Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Spotlight on Shapings: Part 1

Shapings is an online hosiery business based in Ontario, Canada. They are one of the very few mainstream hosiery retailers that stock an extensive range of tights and pantyhose for men. A look at their website will confirm that they put a great deal of care and attention to this side of the business, including organising their own photo shoots that showcase men's hosiery brands.

I was very pleased to be able to interview Robert Safko, the director of Shapings. The interview will be published in two parts on Hosiery For Men. In Part 1, Robert discusses the background to Shapings  the decision to offer men's hosiery products and some of the advantages of tights for men.

Can you tell Hosiery For Men readers something about Shapings?

Shapings was born from an idea back in 1995 when Nicole Safko could not find a proper bustier to go under her wedding gown. The first store opened in August 1995 and in 2000 the internet store made its first appearance selling many different items from the shop.

Unlike most mainstream hosiery retailers, Shapings stocks a very wide range of men's pantyhose and tights. Why did you decide to develop this part of the business?
The idea to sell many different items on the site branches from the store’s selection. However, our bra business is strictly for the stores as it is very hard to maintain our policy of perfectly fitting women into this very important garment. We found that the hosiery was the main focus with our customers and building on this market was the logical direction.

As manufacturers were starting to roll out men’s products we felt that it was important to offer both genders a choice for a product that in our eyes should be a unisex garment.

Lida Men's 100 Denier Tights

Can you say something further about why you consider tights to be a unisex garment?

Seeing that men and women both have legs and feet, this garment is useful to women other than just making their legs look good. Ask any woman if they have ever worn tights under pants and most would say yes. This is my go to question when women ask me why a man would wear pantyhose or tights. She wears the tights for warmth and bulk free comfort with a pair of microfibre tights so why not a man? Men are forced to wear layers, a brief, long johns and a pair of socks. Stand back and he looks like he is wearing tights so why not just put on a single pieced garment. Functionality is the main reason for tights being unisex. 

Support pantyhose is a prime example: as venous problems do not discriminate between men and women why is it that women have all the options to help with aching legs while men are limited to a garment that does not go above the knees? As soon as a support garment rises over the knee it becomes a feminine product. Why is the knee the border between sexes? It's like crossing into Russia and getting asked for your papers.

What do you feel are some of the advantages of tights designed and made specifically for men?

The main advantage is the panty design. You can’t have a true male pantyhose without a modified panty. Men and women are anatomically different in this area and having a pantyhose just longer and larger doesn’t cut it. There are large women out there that would benefit from a large pair of hose but having a pouch or open fly design makes the hose strictly a man’s.

You stock Comfort4Men men's tights at Shapings. I have reviewed and featured several of their styles at Hosiery For Men and they are a product that are specifically made to address the needs of men. What are the features of this brand that made you decide to stock them at Shapings?

Being a sufferer of varicose veins I have worn compression waist high hosiery for over two decades. Until Comfort4Men came along you could not find a medical grade compression tight that was anatomically correct for men. The design is quite ingenious and the cost is justified. Compression hosiery is not inexpensive and to have it modified perfectly for men to wear comfortably is quite special. You can easily get two months of wear from a single pair so the cost per wear ratio makes for a comfortable therapy at minimal cost per wear. Any man suffering from aching legs will certainly find relief and for the $55 spent for this relief is money well spent. You can spend $100 on a bottle of Scotch, you drink it, it's gone, a pair of Comfort4Men can help you perform better throughout the day without having to sit down.

Of the brands that you stock, which ones have been particularly popular with your male customers? 

It is across the board, just like our women’s brands.

Hosiery is such a personal item and offering many types makes for a wide range of personal tastes to suit. The benefits of pantyhose for men is support, warmth, sheer pant liners and comfort and with all these different needs it makes for a wide spread of personal requirements in a pantyhose.

Shapings based in Canada. Do you get enquiries about tights for men from other parts of the world? 

We receive orders from around the globe. There are men in every country that like to wear tights.

Although you stock tights for men, have you found that men are also buying women's tights? Which styles and brands are popular? 

Of course, the selection of women’s hose on our site is extensive and the choice of yarns is the key. There is not enough men’s products out there that offer the many yarn options that women have. Again, the brands that sell the most is hard to say as we can’t interview each male client as to whom the hose will be worn by. Many men buy for their wives. There are many men that love pantyhose on women and have the need to buy and be knowledgeable about about hose.

Regarding the tights for women that you sell, are there any brands and styles that might work well for men in terms of the yarn, size choices and depth of panty/brief? The Cecilia de Rafael Coral tights, for example, work well for me and are superb quality.
Honestly, there is no rhyme or reason for what works well for men. Men come in all different sizes and shapes and tastes for yarns. Some like 40 denier, some like 8 denier, some like high waist, some low. Men have different reasons for wearing them as do women. 

The Coral tight by CDR is a fine tight but if you were to review any of our selection of tights you will be impressed with the quality for the money. A higher priced tight, better the yarn and finish. Our prices reflect this and if it does not pass our test for quality it doesn't get posted and we don't buy them. 

This is why our men's selections are limited to what is presently showcased as some products made for men just don't cut it. Sticking a man on the package doesn't do it either. We are plagued with $5 products in a $50 package. If a man finds a tight that works well for them, then I say keep buying it. 

What I do know is that men are more inclined to buy up many different styles as possible, yet they have multiples of the same pair of underwear in their drawer. It becomes almost like a curiosity of what else is out there instead of just stocking up with what works.

Part 2 of this interview will appear shortly. Stay tuned.


  1. I'd say that I like the look of women's tights on men for some reason because that "package" in the front is over-emphasized in some styles and it makes it look immodest in my opinion.


  2. I put a link to this story on my blog, I hope some of my visitors will come to your site to learn more. Good post!