Mantyhose are sweeping through Europe and may be heading to the United States, but are they a lasting fashion statement or just another fad?
Mantyhose, the male version of women's pantyhose, are rather popular in Europe.
"Mantyhose are actually unisex," according to Italian designer Francesco Cavallini. "But they come in a range of more masculine patterns like skulls, checks, stars and horizontal stripes. 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," Cavallini told European website The Week.
While the trend is popular in Europe, many designers are skeptical if the trend will catch on in the U.S.
"If it's fine for Italian guys, it's fine for the world," said Cavallini. Chan Kraemer, writer for the site e-MANcipate.com, notes that "pantyhose for men can be an everyday clothing item, and that can be fashionable as well."
Men wearing tights is nothing new; the tradition dates back to the Middle Ages. Shakespearean plays often required male actors to don tights as part of their period costumes. Yet in modern times, the trend has tapered off, though pantyhose remain a staple of women's fashion.
Joe Namath famously appeared in tights for a television commercial in the 1970's. The ad for Beautymist Pantyhose featured a woman's voice saying, "This commercial will prove to the women of America that Beautymist pantyhose can make any legs look like a million dollars." As the camera panned on a pair of hose-covered legs, it is revealed that those legs belonged to Namath.
Consumers were not convinced and Namath found himself the butt of many jokes. But could he have had the first laugh, somehow seeing that men's pantyhose would come back in style?
"When we started our online shop," explained Cavallini, "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 manythose."
One may wonder, though, if the majority of those customers were European.
Here in the U.S., mantyhose are the subject of disdain, with various Twitter users commenting they wouldn't be caught dead in them.
"Breaking: I am not wearing mantyhose," exclaimed Stephen Green.
"First it was men's bags. We kept quiet. Then skinny jeans, Minis, convertible Minis, still we remained silent. Mantyhose? No!" added Khaya Dlanga.
Even women are encouraging men not to wear them.
"Introducing mantyhose. Yes, mantyhose. Nooo!! Women don't even like 'em. Take our lip gloss instead," wrote Heather Dugan.