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Men in tights: superheros spark fashion trend

Stockists of skin-tight legwear for men are struggling to keep up with demand as sales go through the roof

They regularly send box-office sales through the roof, but superhero blockbusters may also have sparked a surprising fashion trend – by putting men in tights.

UK stockists are reporting record sales of sheer, patterned and support tights for men. Retailers say men's tights are not being sold as fetish garments, but as practical, comfortable and – most worryingly – stylish everyday wear.

"I don't know what is going on – sales have gone mad," said Kieran Hughes, director of the tights stockists Precious Collections.

"In the past two months we have gone from selling 300 pairs of tights a month to men in the UK, to selling more than 1,000."

Men give three reasons for donning skin-tight legwear. Some simply like the added insulation they bring underneath trousers. Others put them on under shorts and claim they bring such health benefits as back support. And a few even claim that tights are the latest symbol of metrosexuality.

Mr Hughes said: "German men have been wearing them for years. More than 50 per cent of German men wear tights, including famous German football players. I can't imagine many footballers here doing that."

Online site Legwear4men reports that it is struggling to cope with demand, while Mytights reports that its new men's line sold out almost immediately.

Tights aimed at men are designed slightly differently from those worn by women – and not just because they come in sizes large enough to accommodate burly rugby players. They usually feature support panels, sometimes include front openings that resemble flies on jeans, and also have reinforced feet.