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Mantyhose: Are men really ready to wear tights?

Italian fashion house Emilio Cavallini has found that European men are ready and eager to don pantyhose. Will American dudes follow suit?

"If you thought men in tights was a sartorial statement best left to medieval jesters, think again," says Daisy Dumas in Britain's Daily Mail. Upscale Florentine hosiery purveyor Emilio Cavallini is at the forefront of what it sees as fashion's next big thing: Male pantyhose, or "mantyhose." The "hose for bros" fad has caught on in Europe, the fashion house tells Women's Wear Daily (WWD), and is primed to make a big leap across the pond. Here's a look at the (possibly) imminent mantyhose craze:

Are "mantyhose" a real thing?Yes, really, says Francesco Cavallini, the company's vice president. Call them what you will — Racked suggests "guylons," or "broisery," or "he-tards" — but male tights now account for 2 to 3 percent of the million-plus pairs of hose Cavallini sells annually. "When we started our online shop we noticed that a lot of tights sized medium-large were being purchased by men," Cavallini tells WWD. He did a web search and discovered a cult following for mantyhose. In 2009, the fashion house introduced the product in select fashionable boutiques. A pair costs $27, and the biggest markets are Germany, France, Scandinavia, Canada, and the U.S.

How are they different than female-oriented tights?Cavallini's mantyhose are actually unisex. But they come in a range of more masculine patterns, like skulls, checks, stars, and horizontal stripes (as well as various plain colors). And the fabric is different, too, with "greater elasticity and stretch as well as breathability, which is important since men perspire much more than women do," says Cavallini. They fit both sexes equally well in the crotch, he adds. "If it's fine for Italian guys, it's fine for the world."

And men really wear these, in public?Cavallini's biggest-seller is basic black, and most men apparently wear their mantyhose like long underwear — "in other words, safely out of sight beneath their pants as an extra layer during the winter," says Charlotte Cowles in New York. But Cavallini has seen "men on streets across Europe wearing them with shorts," too. And why not, asks Chan Kraemer at online male hosiery magazine "Pantyhose for men can be an everyday clothing item, and that it can be fashionable as well."

Is there any way this will catch on in the U.S.?Why not? says Ashley Cardiff in The Gloss. If tights-clad men "can pull it off and feel good about themselves, then no one else should care." I actually think male tights are kind of sexy, says Emily Abbate in The Stir. But mostly, I want my man to wear guylons just to "watch him squirm. Can he get them on without ripping? Will he understand how not easy that is?" I'm skeptical, says Kenzie Bryant in Racked. This whole male hosiery trend feels like "revenge on women by dudes who have had their wardrobes pilfered for decades." Either that, or long-delayed nostalgia for a "return — nay, reclamation — of Shakespearean man-tights."

Sources: BrandChannel, Daily Mail, The Gloss, New York, New York Daily News, Racked, The Stir, StyleCaster


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