Off the peg: After the sarong and male nail varnish, are we ready for men in tights?
Saturday 15 August 1998
Example one: I overhear a besuited business man on the tube earnestly telling his friend: "I'm just packing a few sarongs, and T-shirts." Example two: the Austrian hosiery and bodywear firm Wolford feels the time is right to launch male tights onto the market. This begs the question - has the fem/men thing gone too far? A statement from the spokeswoman for the tights' designer, Andreas Aschever-Martinelli, suggests it has: "We produced this hosiery because men all over the world want it. They said, `You are ignoring us, and we are half the population.'" She then added, "These are not girly, I think they are very manly, actually."
When Hard Candy created Candy Man nail varnishes for men in 1997, they used names such as Gigolo, Libido and Cowboy to sell the product, and it worked (well ... for Robbie Williams and Quentin Tarantino). Wolford has called its tights "Waist-socks", something of a misleading name for a pair of black opaque tights with Y-fronts sewn into the top of them. "Footed Long-Johns", would make them sound more macho, or even "ever wanted to dress like a chic version of Superman? Well, now you can." That might work. But it is unlikely, given that, at pounds 39 a pair, they are at least four times the price of the women's equivalent. It's also worth remembering that the vast majority of men hate tights on women, preferring the look, feel and (to be frank) easy access of stockings and suspenders, so why would they wear them themselves?
A reluctant, but open-minded, bloke-about-town was given a pair to try out for a couple of days, but the tights didn't last 10 minutes, despite his best intentions. "As soon as I put my jeans on over them it felt like a couple of plastic bags had been strapped to my legs," he said. After a bit of probing, though, he revealed the Y-front bit offered "lift" at the rear, and that the black "actively-breathing" cotton/Lycra fabric made his legs look like very feminine, which was a novelty for about five minutes.
His verdict: "I wouldn't wear them. I'll stick to thermals if I get cold." Tights for men may sound modern, futuristic even, but the look had its moment in the 15th century, when the Duke of Burgundy cut a dash in a black pair, worn with a doublet. And what self-respecting Nineties man wants to look like Blackadder?
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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