Sunday, 10 February 2013

Spotlight on Lumen Tights Part 1

Lumen Tights is a relative newcomer to online hosiery retailing in the UK. A positive aspect of the business is their commitment from the outset to sell a range of men's tights as well as provide a first class service to male customers.

Hosiery For Men recently spoke with the founder of Lumen Tights, Jurgita Preiksaite. In Part 1 of the interview Jurgita talks about setting up Lumen Tights, why tights are a unisex garment and the growing visibility and acceptability of tights for men.

Why have you used the word 'Lumen' as the name of the business? Lumen is the Latin word for Light and the basis for √©toile, French for star, estrella in Spanish, stella in Italian, but in any language Lumen carries evocations of romance, glamour and that special mystique we all long for. So naming the business 
Lumen Tights was my romantic side surfacing!

It's great that a mainstream hosiery retailer is committed to providing an extensive selection of tights for men. Are men a segment of potential customers that you aimed to target from the start of the business? It was something I thought about, but in all honesty, targeting men was not initially high on my priority list. For a start-up company (at the end of January 2013, Lumen Tights will celebrate its first birthday) the concentration had to be on breaking into an existing market as opposed to helping to develop a new one.

During the cold winter months I saw a sizeable increase in sales of the warmest tights we carry – the bulk of them in extra-large and with orders coming from Northern and Eastern Europe. As you know, families share credit cards so the number of men ordering the warmest tights would not have caught my attention – except for the spike in sizing.

That was when I started doing some serious homework on men’s hosiery. I knew Lumen Tights would be going ‘against the grain’, but I thought it was important to offer men a way to be warmer, more comfortable and healthier.

Were blogs like Hosiery For Men helpful when you considered selling men's tights? Hosiery For Men, more than any other source, opened my eyes to the possibilities in that you confirmed what I intuitively felt. Men were not averse to wearing tights.

Yes, it is new market as well as a challenge and a bit of a gamble, but one I felt worth exploring. In many ways the door has been opened by the fact that a lot of men do wear tights when running or biking. The core awareness of muscle warmth and cooling was pre-established. Convincing men to wear hosiery as an everyday garment is a work in progress but the fact that very athletic men do wear tights for sports broke the initial barrier.

On the website you state that 'there's nothing gender-specific in men's tights; they are, by definition unisex.' Can you say more about why you think tights are a unisex garment?
If one is to be factually accurate, tights and pantyhose for women first appeared in the 1960’s as an alternative to stockings and suspenders. The general assumption that tights are the domain of women is incorrect – it was just great marketing on the part of women’s hosiery manufacturers.

When one considers the world of dance - ballet in particular - we recognize immediately that tights have been accepted as unisex attire for hundreds of years. Tights were and are worn primarily for health purposes. Keeping muscles warm during physical activity is a primary means of preventing muscular injury; allowing muscles too cool down properly is crucial. Tights succeed in doing both.

In the non-theatrical world tights were originally conceived for and worn by the noblest of men for horseback riding. To quote something we wrote on the Lumen Tights blog:

“Throughout Europe, the upper echelons of the peerage wore tights made of fine silk. Silk is an adaptable fabric for both heat and cold as it breathes. For bitter cold, the finest wool was the material of choice. Fashion being what it is, the trend spread quickly and soon men of all classes were wearing tights; the materials differed but the look and intent were the same. Remember the word “pantaloons” from French or Spanish class? They were tights – men’s tights.”
It should be noted that dance tights have always been 100% unisex in construction. Some styles of men’s tights also do not have a front fly opening. A no-fly design provides added support and comfort; no slippage so to speak.

In fact, it has only been in the last ten years or so that a few manufacturers have been making men’s tights with a fly. I believe the fly option was more an acknowledgment to male habits than to reasons of comfort, health and optimal fit.

There has been a huge amount of media coverage of 'mantyhose' (tights for men) in recent months. What are your thoughts about the greater visibility nowadays of men buying and wearing tights?
My personal opinion is that if a man is healthy and in shape, tights and/or meggings (leggings for men) look great.

As for men wearing tights or mantyhose under business or casual attire, there really is no way to tell that they are wearing them even to my practiced eye. Seriously, other than the man’s clothing fitting better you can’t tell.

When guys are working outdoors in wet and cold weather, I hope they all are wearing the warmest pair of tights they can buy!

Part 2 of the Lumen Tights feature will be published shortly. Stay tuned.

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