Yet another hosiery company has discovered one of the great secrets of our society: there are a lot of men out there who love to wear ladies things. 

In this instance, it’s hosiery startup Threads. 

Being connected to many in the hosiery business (manufacturers, retailers), they have all confirmed to me what this article said – half of their customers are men. Every hosiery maker knows this. It presents a fascinating business conundrum: how to grow that segment? 

I’ve seen several hosiery companies make attempts to create a men’s hosiery line, including some really high end European companies like Wolford and Gerbe. None of these offerings worked out. 

French hosiery maker Gerbe hit the psychological nail on the head with this campaign - and yet - the line was discontinued.

I see a few takeaways from this:

  • There are men out there who are secure enough to wear what they want, no matter what isle of the store it comes from. Taking an existing product and relabeling it “for men” doesn’t speak to these guys. 
  • There are men out there who are looking for permission to wear what they want. They horribly afraid to admit they are wearing a “woman’s” item, and, this is one of the things they like about it – it’s a “woman’s” item. Rebranding a pair of pantyhose as “for men” takes away some of the product’s initial appeal. 
  • The biggest problem is figuring out how to cost effectively grow a segment who keeps their usage of the product a total secret. Even the darkest of drug addicts are really good at sharing and promoting the product to their friends. This is essential to growing sales. Men who wear nylons are never going to do this, so even if they figured out the right marketing / packaging angle, a business will still be hampered by this limitation, amplifying the cost of marketing. 

One other approach is to simply strip away ALL gender designations from the product. There are a few companies trying this right now “hosiery is a genderless product that anyone can enjoy”. The upside here is that as long as the packaging is super generic, you don’t have to re-tool much. While some cheer this as a modern, woke approach to gender and fashion, there is a bit of misogyny baked into it: 

“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short

Wear shirts and boots ’cause it’s okay to be a boy

But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading

‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading

But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like wouldn’t you

What it feels like for a girl”

Cement Garden, 1993

Image courtesy of Threads for Men. Also - fellas, if you are going to wear sheer hosiery, shave your legs (for a dozen good reasons, but that's another article for another day).

What we see in the “genderless” movement is a group of men who  could just be secure enough to wear a woman’s thing, but they aren’t; they could just ask permission to wear a woman’s thing, but they don’t; instead, they are asking for all references to female to be removed, so that they can be their ‘masculinity’ will be less threatened while they they dress like one.

Imagine if you and I were discussing going for lunch. You suggested Mexican. I respond with, “Can we just refer to it as tortilla based food? I’m really uncomfortable with the word “Mexican”. Food has no nationality.”  One might well conclude that I’m just a bit racist.  And so it is with pantyhose.

It’s a quiet  and sneaky subversion that is fueled by modern wokeness. Instead, these men should grow a pair and understand that incorporating a “female” element doesn’t make them less of a man – but subverting the feminine, does. Forgive them, my friends – they don’t realize what they are doing.