Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=228065
Story Retrieval Date: 10/1/2014 7:15:18 AM CST
Cram Fashion in Boystown is currently the only retailer that carries leggings for men.
Men + leggings = meggings; but does this trend have legs?
Douglas Cook rocks his American flag meggings from Meggings Man.
Decades ago female fashionistas adopted male trends: Women started wearing baggy sweaters, flannel shirts and sneakers. Only during the past few years has the reverse been true. Female articles of clothing and accessories such as blouses, jewelry, Capris and skinny jeans have been translated into menswear. So could leggings be next in line?
Chicago-based designers, Adam Freck and Andrew Volk, hope so. The duo launched their latest, online apparel company in December: Meggings Man Clothing. They are convinced that “meggings,” the term they coined for male leggings, are the next big thing.
“Male clothing has gotten slimmer and slimmer in general. The fit of the male suit is a lot more form-fitting than what you would see your dad wearing 15 years ago,” said Freck. “The natural progression of clothing is getting tighter and more fitting for men as well as everyone in general. This is the next step.”
A year ago, Volk and Freck, both 32, began noticing men in big cities wearing leggings. After a year of researching, scoping out fashion runways and developing samples, they finally launched their line. Demand, they said, has been high.
“People are excited,” said Volk. “People are happy that they found us. They’re saying that they’ve been looking for a product like this for men for a while now, so it’s pretty positive.”
Godfrey Deeny, fashion editor-at-large at the Paris’ daily newspaper Le Figaro, said the concept of male leggings originally derived from traditional Indian attire. Churidar pants, worn by both men and women, are drawstring trousers that are loose at the crotch and hips and tight below the thighs. They then gather at the ankles.
Deeny has personally been a fan of the style ever since he visited India 15 years ago.
“Meggings are essentially a skinny version with narrow legs,” he said in an email. “They are by definition more comfortable and add a dash of panache to the look. You can even wear them with shirt tight jackets and it gives a colonial kick.” He said his favorites are by Osklen, the Brazilian urban beach and surf designer.
Yet online luxury retail stores such as Luisaviaroma, based in Florence, and online boutique farfetch.com, have been selling male leggings for years. Although the look has been slow to pick up in the U.S., Justin Bieber and Russell Brand were seen sporting leggings in 2010. More recently, former soccer phenom David Beckham included leggings in his “bodywear” line for Swedish apparel giant H&M.
Smaller American retailers such as RHLS have sold male leggings on etsy.com. During this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Kiedis started a buzz by wearing printed leggings he wore under his shorts.
But do meggings have legs?
A number of men have been wearing leggings under their clothes even though they were not necessarily fitted for the male body, fashion experts say. Legging options for men are available from some luxury brands and can cost from $70 to $900 a pair.
The North Side designers said they wanted to create a high quality product that looked great but remained comfortable and affordable at the same time.
“It usually starts off with kind of those rock stars and celebs until it comes to the version of the product for everyday people, more accessible as opposed to high priced designer wear,” Freck said. “So we’ll keep refining products and coming up with interesting fun designs that people can appreciate and use.”
So far, Meggings Man Clothing has released 15 different designs, ranging from basic black to metallic gold to American flag or army patterns. The meggings start at $29.95 and go up to $39.95 a pair.
“Are more people going to go for the undertones or will the crazy patterns and brightly colored pants be more popular?” Freck said. Nine new models will be released in the next two weeks and eventually the company will introduce other apparel items such as shirts that can be styled or paired with the meggings.
Douglas Cook, a 26-year-old marketing and customer service design professional in Pittsburgh, has already bought two sets of meggings in the last few weeks: one navy blue and one American flag pattern.
“They feel delicious,” Cook said about his new purchases. “I love wearing jeans, but jeans are really only so functional and practical because they’re pretty constricting.”
Cook said he had always been interested in wearing leggings because he loves physical activities such as dancing and cycling.
“The stigma is that you’re either a crazy dresser or that ‘only sissies’ wear them,” Cook added. “But I think this is just another step towards a more androgynous fashion style where the line starts to become a little more blurred and things start to become more about expression, comfort and personality instead of gender and stereotypes.”
Still, lots of men are likely to be turned off by how revealing leggings are-especially on those with less than lean physiques. While they can be worn under shorts or as a base layer, leggings are basically advertised as pants—with a tightness somewhere between ballet tights and skinny jeans. Some fashion experts are doubtful that the trend will ever become mainstream.
Erin Hazelton, a freelance fashion writer based in France, said she doesn’t think leggings will ever become as universal as skinny jeans because they appeal to a rather fashion forward, hyper-trendy niche.
“Personally if my husband came in wearing them, I’d ask him to take them off,” Hazelton said. “Skinny jeans are one thing. Leggings don’t leave much to the imagination.”
It’s safe to say that male leggings are too fashion forward for some retail brands.
“As a company we would never sell meggings here,” said Lakisha Valliant, operations manager at a Men’s Warehouse on Chicago’s State Street. “We tend to keep our inventory safe and sellable. Meggings are too trendy and don’t cater to our demographic.”
So far, Cram Fashion is the only retailer in Boystown selling leggings and the store’s buyer purchases them directly from Meggings Man. Store personnel believe the look will pick up as Chicago’s bitter winter eases into spring and summer.
“Are they going to catch on? Yes,” predicts La Figaro’s Deeny, who wears leggings around the house and for quick runs to the grocery store. “That said, men’s resistance to change even after 15 years of metrosexuality is appalling.”