Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Hosiery For Men Best Of 2014 Awards: Part 1

As 2014 ends and the new year begins, we once again take the opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months from a hosiery perspective.

For the second year, we have created a 'Best of 2014' award to provide recognition to brands, retailers and others who have by their hard work, dedication and creativity made a great impression at the blog.



The award categories for 2014 are:


Hosiery retailer of the year
Brand of the year - men's tights
Brand of the year - women's and unisex tights
Best new opaque tights
Best new product - men's tights
Best new product - women's and unisex tights
Best men's hosiery product (non-tights)
Special award for championing men's hosiery


Here are the Hosiery For Men awards for the first four categories. Part 2 will follow shortly.

Category: Hosiery retailer of the year

Winner: UK Tights




We love UK Tights for everything they do. From the fantastic range of products to their lively and engaging social media presence. Not only that, they have maintained their commitment to providing a good range of men's tights, as well providing a great level of service to both genders.

UK Tights have always stated that when buying tights, gender is not an issue for them.

UK Tights have been consistent and generous supporters of Hosiery For Men and we once again thank them for all their encouragement and support.

Category: Brand of the year - men's tights

Winner: Comfort4Men




Comfort4Men won this award in 2013 and take the honours again for 2014.

Comfort4Men come out on top again for their total commitment to quality and constant innovation.

New styles keep on appearing, and the range of men's sheer tights, opaque tights, support tights and more that is now available is very impressive.

Comfort4Men also launched an innovative range of 'Silver Textile' products using a unique antimicrobial, heat balancing fabric designed to keep men cool and comfortable.

Brand of the year - women's and unisex tights

Winner: Wolford




This was a very close call between the 2013 winners FALKE and Wolford. Both make products of the highest quality.

However, Wolford really took hosiery to a new level in the year with the launch of their PURE 50 TIGHTS that combined advanced technology and premium materials.

This year we reviewed the Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights, the Velvet De Luxe 66 Tights and Long Distance Knee-Highs for men. All are excellent products and they provided us with great pleasure when wearing them.

Wolford also provided some great support to Hosiery For Men by providing samples that we have reviewed.

Category: Best new opaque tights

Winner: FALKE Pure Shine 80 Tights


We reviewed the new FALKE Pure Shine 80 Denier Opaque Tights this year and were very impressed. It seems that FALKE might be planning to phase out their superb Seidenglatt 70 Tights. If this is true then the Pure Shine 80 Tights are worthy replacement.

The Pure Shine 80 Tights are class. Wonderful soft yarn, great design and accurate sizing. The glossy sheen makes these perfect opaques to wear under trousers for all day comfort and a top wearing experience.

Reviewed: Hanes Alive Support Pantyhose

Hosiery For Men has previously featured the USA-based men's hosiery advocate Rob SpeedKing.

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with Rob.

This blog welcomes Rob for the second time to Hosiery For Men as a guest reviewer. Rob provides our readers with reviews of some of the most common brands of pantyhose and tights in the USA that are not available in Europe.

You can still read Rob's review of L'eggs Sheer Energy Active Support Pantyhose.

Rob has now provided a review of the Hanes Alive Support Pantyhose.



Hanes Alive pantyhose (tights in the UK) are a major hosiery brand in the American hosiery market and has been for a long time. Generally found in most major department store retailers such as the world famous Macy's Department Store, Sears, J.C. Penny's and Kohl's to name a few. Considered "mid-priced" hosiery, they are typically popular with older women, but in recent years, have been very popular with men who need full support hosiery that is tougher and tighter.

I personally buy the Hanes Alive hosiery that was recommended to me by my physycian when I was diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).

Materials and features
Panty/Brief: 84% Nylon, 16% Spandex

Leg: 71% Nylon, 29% Spandex

These are thick pantyhose/tights (roughly 40 denier, but this is not stated on the package. This is an educated guess) and provide excellent compression for full support. Very smooth to the touch, they come with a control top with a reinforced toe and have a very noticable shine.

Hanes Alive are available in a sheer to waist and sheer toe style.

The seams are not flat, but are not uncomfortable and they come with a cotton gusset for extra strength. The waistband is about roughly an inch wide and holds up rather well.

They are boarded for a fitted, snug fit and and come wrapped around a white card inside of cellophane inside of a cardstock package

They are very durable and can last a long time with multiple wearings and washing without any damage. With proper care, they can last up to 10-15 wearings/washings or more.

Fit and sizing
I'm 5' 10' and roughly 220lbs with a size 38 waist, so I need to wear a size "D" for a perfect fit. Some have told me that size "F" works, but I have yet to try this.



Color range
Hanes Alive come in a decent range of colors from White all the way to Jet Black. My particular favourites are Jet Black, Barely Black, Town Taupe and South Pacific (Dark Tan)



Rob wearing the Hanes Alive in Jet Black.

Price and availability
As stated above, Hanes Alive can be widely found all across the United States at most department stores. They are generally priced around $12.00 USD.

Conclusion
I love Hanes Alive as they make my legs look great. They provide great full support compression which will keep your legs envigorated all day while making them look fantastic!

Highly recommended.

A visit to the FALKE flagship store in Berlin

Hosiery For Men visited Berlin over the holiday period. We were really pleased to be able to visit the FALKE flagship store on Berlin's Kurfürstendamm. FALKE are one of our favourite brands and going to a FALKE store was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.





The shop is very impressive with a beautifully designed space that highlights the FALKE range for women and men.







Service was very helpful. I needed to buy something warm as the temperature was about to plummet in Berlin. I asked a very nice sales assistant what tights she recommended for me and she took me through the current range of opaques, including the Pure Shine 80, the Pure Matt 50 and a new model, the Warm Deluxe tights. However, I decided to invest in another pair of the superb Pure Matt 100 tights, size V (XL), in the Marine shade. A great addition to my FALKE collection.

The cost was €26.00 and the tights were packed in a very classy FALKE bag.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Just arrived: Cette Quebec 40 denier tights

Cette is the leading Belgian hosiery and shapewear manufacturer.



They have kindly sent is a pair of the Cette Quebec 40 Denier Tights to trial and review.

Cecilia de Rafael Digital Ambassador Junius Paul, Part 1

Cecilia De Rafael is one of Europe's leading hosiery brands. Since it was founded in 1976, the company has become known for high quality products, as well as its innovative designs.



We have previously reviewed several 
Cecilia De Rafael tights at Hosiery for Men:

Coral 60 Tights

Zafiro 60 Tights

Ave 70 Tights

It was announced recently that 
Cecilia De Rafael had appointed a male Digital Ambassador to showcase and champion their tights and hosiery. This is surely a first for the hosiery industry and hugely significant.

The Cecilia de Rafael Digital Ambassador is the musician Junius Paul. We are really excited to publish the first part of our exclusive interview with Junius.


Hi Junius, can you tell Hosiery For Men readers a bit about yourself?


Certainly. I’m from Chicago, Illinois (USA) and have been a professional bassist and composer for twelve years, recording and travelling internationally performing various styles of music with artists from around the world. I recently returned to Chicago from jazz festivals in Graz, Austria and Lausanne, Switzerland, and am working on a new recording project scheduled for release in 2015.




Have you always been interested in tights and legwear for men?


I’ve been wearing tights pretty regularly since my early teenage years; I’ve been fascinated by tights since childhood. I remember, prior to my own wearing of tights, noticing how the smoothness and designs of tights complimented the leg upon looking.

My first tights purchase was a pair of women’s opaque tights (there was not much, if any, of a selection of men’s tights to purchase from, nor was there a public community of men’s legwear enthusiasts at the time), and there was a natural level of comfort while wearing them.

The first pair of men’s tights that I purchased was from G. Lieberman & Sons’ Comfilon (the name was later changed to Activskin) in 2004. I love tights, and I’ll wear any style if the look and feel of it is to my liking.

Currently I wear tights for style and also health purposes. Being a professional bassist, whether playing double bass or electric bass, I am standing up for hours at a time while on stage, and the compression in my tights prevents my legs from fatigue.



Junius modelling the Cecilia de Rafael SENSACIÓN tights

We recently heard the wonderful news that you have been appointed as the new Digital Ambassador for the prestigious Spanish hosiery brand Cecilia de Rafael. Can you tell us more about how this came about and what you will be doing as part of the Cecilia de Rafael Ambassador role?


Thank you! I am thrilled to be the male Digital Ambassador for such a distinguished and innovative hosiery brand as Cecilia De Rafael. I have known of CdR for some years, and it is an honor to now model and promote their hosiery.



Junius modelling the Cecila de Rafael JUMBO tights.

The relationship between Cecilia De Rafael and myself began via Instagram, with me tagging and mentioning them in a post of mine, in which I am wearing only tights, which they graciously re-posted on their Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Upon staying in communication, CdR offered me the position of male Digital Ambassador, which I happily accepted. My role is to promote and model Cecilia De Rafael hosiery, showing world that men can wear tights stylishly and with masculinity. As a musician, I am regularly given the platform to fuse my tights style with my music, making for a wonderfully artistic combination of sonic and visual creativity.

This must be the first time a major hosiery brand has appointed a male Ambassador. What do you think this means for men who wear tights?


I think that it’s a huge step for men’s hosiery. Cecilia De Rafael is making history by appointing a male Ambassador, and it is exciting for me to be a part of breaking new ground. The goal is to further show the world that tights are unisex, and can be worn stylishly by both women and men. Tights are also some of the most practical items of clothing that a person can wear; the compression and warmth benefits are outstanding.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Junius.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Kunert Velvet Tights now available at UK Tights

Some more exciting product news today. Following the announcement of the availability of the Oroblu Different range, UK Tights have announced the arrival of a new range from Kunert: the Kunert Velvet range.



Announcing the arrival of Kunert Velvet, UK Tights say:


'Kunert has been one of our most popular brands for the past decade and yet they never seem to run out of new ideas and ways to make their selection of tights better. Kunert Velvet is a brand new range of opaque tights that pushes the world of legwear forward once again. Velvet 40 and Velvet 80 are some of the comfiest and softest items they have ever released. They have flat seams around the panty and the toes and are made of the finest material to come from Kunert's development team yet. Kunert have made the best opaque tights in their history and they're available right now.' 




The Kunert Velvet range includes:

Kunert Velvet 40 Opaque Tights



Kunert Velvet 80 Opaque Tights

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Oroblu Different Tights now available at UK Tights

Some great news to share today: UK Tights have the Oroblu Different tights collection in stock.





Launching the range today, UK Tights say:

'Oroblu have launched a collection of items that have been in development for a few years now, longer than most collections would ever be. But this small ensemble of tights, just three in total, are absolutely magnificent. Oroblu Different are a range of tights where the fit is what is important. They have redesigned, from scratch, the way tights are made and have created a new gold standard of leg wear. They fit you better and are more comfortable, than any other tights they have ever released, no matter your body's shape.' 


The range consists of:

Oroblu Different 15 Tights



Oroblu Different 40 Tights



Oroblu Different 80 Tights



We have already reviewed the Different 80 tights at Hosiery For Men and found them to be a very high quality opaque tights, with a great fit. The waistband is innovative and one of the best we have ever seen.

Guest blogger for UK Tights, Part 2

We were excited when leading UK hosiery retailer UK Tights asked Hosiery For Men to be their guest blogger!



Our first guest blog was Part 1 of our recommended tights for men for autumn and winter.

UK Tights have now published Part 2 of our recommendations.



Do check out both parts of the guest blog and see what great tights we have selected that will keep you warm and comfortable this winter.

Just arrived: Kunert Warm Up 60 Tights

US-based hosiery retailer The Stylish Fox has kindly sent us a sample of the Kunert Warm Up 60 Tights to trial and review.





The Stylish Fox has recently started to stock the excellent Kunert brand. Do check out their website and also their great selection of tights for men.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Reviewed: SmooFit 80 denier men's tights (02224-532, 2013 model)

We recently provided Hosiery For Men readers with news of a brand of men's tights from Japan, SmooFit Tights

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Tom Tamai of NAIGAI, the company that makes SmooFit tights.

We have also previously reviewed the SmooFit 80 denier men's tights, although that review was of the 02224-502 (2012) model.

NAIGAI sent us a sample of the newer, improved 02224-532 (2013) model of the 80 denier tights and this review will focus on that.





Materials and features
As mentioned in a previous review, NAIGAI have created superb packaging for the SmooFit tights. The tights are folded around a long, white rectangular piece of card. They are then housed in a card enclosure, that folds to form a kind of rectangular box. Everything is then wrapped in a clear cellophane envelope.

The packaging provides a great deal of product information in Japanese, including a handy diagram and instructions on how to put the tights on!

Although the product is clearly presented as 'SmooFit tights', the word's 'Men's Panty Stocking' appears was well. This might be slightly confusing for English-speaking buyers.





The tights feel like a durable product when you take them out of the packaging.

The fabric is 92% Nylon and 8% Polyurethane, which I assume might be Elastane/Lycra but I am unable to read the packaging information which is is Japanese.

The fabric feels really soft and stretchy.

Legs are straight, and sheer to waist apart from a slightly denser banding near the top of each thigh. Toes are rounded, with excellent reinforcement and good quality stitching.



The waistband is 3cm wide and made from a different, thicker fabric that has been stitched on to the tights. The waistband is soft and comfortable. You can also see that the SmooFit logo has been picked out. There is also a tag stitched into the rear inside seam with the word 'Men's'. These are very cool additional features.

These are tights specifically designed and made for men and this is evident in the superbly designed front and rear sections of the brief.

At the front, the panel has been constructed from double fabric for additional strength. As the front and rear panels meet in a seam under the crotch, the fabric is denser and stronger.

The front panel also has, as shown, a male anatomical fly opening. This has also been constructed really well, and it seems that the hems have improved stitching from the earlier version. In a further nice tough, the stitching on the fly opening has been picked out in light green. This colour scheme changes depending on the denier. For example the 50 denier SmooFit tights have this feature picked out in blue.








Fit and sizing

The SmooFit 80 denier men's tights are available in two sizes: M-L, and L-LL.

I tested a pair in the M-L size. I previously reviewed them in the L-LL size.

The chart that can be seen below on the packaging provides sizing information on height and weight.



M-L size: Fits waist up to 94cm (37"); height up to 185cm (6'1").

L-LL size: Fits waist up to 104cm (41"); height up to 185cm (6'1").

The M-L was definitely a much snugger fit than the L-LL size. Leg length was also good, but with perhaps less stretch than the L-LL. The fit for me was perfectly comfortable, but I would recommend that men taller than me (5'10") go for the larger size.

The brief was comfortable but not quite as roomy or high-rise as the L-LL size.

The fabric fits beautifully snug on the legs with no wrinkling or bunching.


The waistband is well-designed and works well to keep the tights in position. However, I did note that it has much less elasticity compared to the previous style. When worn, the waistband was at the limit of its stretch and if I was any bigger in the abdominal area this might have made it uncomfortable. I think NAIGAI need to revisit this aspect.

Colour range
The SmooFit 80 denier men's tights are available in four shades:

  • Brown 
  • Navy 
  • Grey 
  • Black 
I tested the M-L size in Black. (The L-LL size I tested previously was Navy.)

However, in the newer 2013 version it appears that in the L-LL size only Black is available.






Price and availability
The SmooFit 80 denier men's tights are available online from Rakuten Global Market.

They are priced at ¥1,620 (Japanese yen).

This is equivalent to $13.64, £8.69 and €10.95.

These prices seem extremely reasonable to me given the quality of the product.

(These prices are based on the exchange rate on 14 December 2014.

I have purchased from Rakuten and can confirm that their service is efficient and reliable

Conclusion
As in the earlier review, I would conclude that the SmooFit 80 denier men's tights are an excellent product and a fine addition to the growing selection of men's tights that are now being produced across the world. In Japan, they have clearly caught on, supported by a great deal of positive TV and other media coverage.

I haven't reviewed the new Tabio men's tights yet, but I would say the SmooFit 80 denier style are as good, if not better, that most of the men's tights being produced in Europe, with the exception of Comfort4Men.

I think the lesson from Japan could be: design and produce a quality product, create good packaging, market it effectively and men's tights will sell well and broaden the hosiery market.

Further reviews of the SmooFit range will be published soon.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Reviewed: Wolford Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights

We are still elated that the famous European hosiery brand Wolford sent us a consignment of tights and socks to trial and review. 



We recently reviewed the Wolford Long Distance Knee-Highs For Men.

We also previously reviewed the Wolford Velvet De Luxe 66 Tights.

We now focus on the Wolford Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights.



Material and features


Wolford describe these tights as:

'Opaque and as soft as velvet: comfortable velvet tights that seduce the eye with their extradorinarily even mat look and can be seen on any occasion.'


Packaging is similar to most Wolford styles. The tights are folded and enclosed in a card sleeve that is then housed in a cellophane envelope. The rear of the packaging provides product and sizing information.

The Wolford Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights are made from 89% Nylon and 11% Elastane.

An immediate first impression was how amazingly soft the fabric is. Although they are opaque tights, they feel really quite light.

Opaque coverage is not total, but very dense for 50 denier tights.

The tights are sheer to waist with no demarcation between the leg and the brief. Toes are reinforced. Seams are flat and expertly done.


One interesting feature of Wolford tights in the XL size is that there is no rear comfort panel. There is a gusset that looks as if it has been specially made from a breathable fabric.

The waistband is 2.5cm wide. As with all Wolford tights, there is a label attached to the inside of the waistband.





The brief is really deep with a huge amount of room if needed, much more than the Wolford Velvet De Luxe 66 Tights.

Fit and sizing


The Wolford Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights are available in five sizes: XS, S, M, L and XL.

I tested a pair in the XL size.



The XL size in this style is really generously sized. As the sizing information indicates, these tights will fit up to a height of 6'1" and that is absolutely accurate.

They fitted me really well, but could easily accommodate a larger or taller person.

The feeling that these tights provide when worn is one of absolute luxury and quality, being so velvety soft and smooth. Your legs will thank you for choosing Wolford!

The tights have excellent stretch, and as mentioned above the brief is very generous indeed. It can stretch some way above the waist if required.

Wolford state that the excellent stretch is obtained by 'the use of double-wrapped elastane in each row.'

Colour range


The Wolford Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights are available in a wide range of colours:

  • Carnelian 
  • Holly Berry 
  • Coca 
  • Mocca 
  • Caper 
  • Admiral 
  • Ultramarine 
  • Tarragon 
  • Black 
  • Nearly Black 
  • Anthracite 


I tested a pair in Black.

Price and availability

The Wolford Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights are priced at £23.00 in the UK.

They are available from the Wolford UK shop, as well as a wide range of retailers such as:

Luxury Legs

My Tights

Tights Please

Tights Tights Tights

The Tight Spot

Conclusion

The Wolford Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights are simply luxurious and top quality in every respect. They are just such a comfortable wearing experience.

Like the Velvet De Luxe 66 Tights, they can be recommended for men as well as women as the material is very stretchy and the larger sizes will fit taller people with ease.

Pricewise, they might cost more than other brands but to me Wolford tights are consistently good value as they last for ages if looked after. As I have said before, cheap tights are a false economy.

I am still wondering, and even hoping, that Wolford will once again launch a style of tights for men. But even if that doesn't happen soon, the Velvet De Luxe 50s will do just fine!

Thanks again to Wolford for the sample and also their interest in the male segment of their market that buys and wears their tights and legwear.