Mantyhose are here! Get them for the man in your life!
If you thought men in tights was a sartorial statement best left to medieval jesters, think again.
The underwear staple for women is making its way into wardrobes of the opposite sex – and the look is gaining popularity.
If any were in doubt as to the strength of the trend, it even has its own name: Mantyhose.
Italian design house Emilio Cavallini has designed a range of tights that it says are unisex and the styles are being snapped up by men, who make up two to three per cent, or 20- to 30,000 – of the company’s customers.
Costing $27, the tights, made from a mix of cotton and nylon, were launched in June 2009.
Speaking to the fashion newspaper, the company’s vice president, Francesco Cavallini said: ‘When we started our online shop we noticed that a lot of tights sized medium-large were being purchased by men.…So I did a search on the Internet and discovered there is a cult following for mantyhose.’
Cult or fad, the trend has gained some momentum of late, with Racked even conducting a poll as to the best name for the dubious new dressing habit.
While it was WWD who coined the term ‘mantyhose’, brosiery’ is a clear leader in the survey, ahead of ‘guylons’, ‘he-tards’, and ‘beau-hose’ – a term surely reserved for the most confident men out there.
Mr Cavallini said that his company’s ‘brosiery’ is tested on its male employees and that their research had led to a special, breathable fabric being designed to account for men’s higher perspiration levels.
The designer believes his male clients mostly seek warmth, wearing the pantyhose under trousers – but tells the fashion newspaper he has seen men pairing them with shorts, while his sister Lisa Cavallini, the company’s distributor in the U.S., told the publication she believes the leg wear is a style-driven choice.
‘The unisex tights are mainly black and white, but I believe the men buying these tights want to make a fashion statement,’ she said, though they do not run in sizes any different to those normally targeted at women.
The Florence-based design house specialises in a vast range of colourful hosiery and underwear, from tanks to crocheted dresses and leggings to thigh-high socks.
The designer believes the hosiery appeals to men’s style tastes – they are made in stars, stripes, spots, skull patterns, black, white and chequered styles and are marketed to both men and women.
Function over form may be the truest drive behind the sales and there is some sway in the figures that show sales are strongest in some of the world’s coldest countries: ‘The mantyhose are most popular with customers from Germany, France, Scandinavia, Canada and the U.S.’ says Mr Cavallini.
Where Emilio Cavallini dares to tread, others have gone before and a selection of men’s tights forums – again, from the U.S. and Europe – unlock a hidden world of (non-novelty-patterned) male hosiery.
St Louis, Missouri-based G Lieberman and Sons makes a range of men’s tights in large sizes – and with front zippers included – while high-end makers, Falke, stock sizes that fit men.
Paris-based makers, Gerbe, feature a range of men’s sheer black and nude designs on their site, worn with gusto by suave models in white shirts.
Where long-johns were once the norm to ward off cold winters among northern European men, could skull-emblazoned designs finally be giving mainstream male shoppers an excuse to get back into tights?