Men in tights? Yes, really
Durban - Who knew that one day Robin Hood, Superman and male ballet dancers would be fashion icons?
Well, that day has arrived and modern male fashion enthusiasts all over Paris, New York and Tokyo are stepping out of their comfort zones and trying one of the riskiest trends in town – man leggings, also known as meggings.
Men in tights are not exactly something new. Leggings in various forms and under various names have been worn for warmth and protection throughout the centuries.
Cowboys, soldiers, knights, and kings were known to wear leggings proudly, but the South African man is yet to fully accept the trend.
“I wouldn’t wear them,” said one of the men that Sunday Tribune spoke to. “They look restrictive, hot and sticky. It is really inappropriate to walk around showing your crotch, unless of course it is… huge and you are in the Olympics,” he said.
Local performer Mzamo Gcabashe said: “I might wear them depending on the print… They would have to be on a street style vibe – extremely hectic prints.”
The reluctance to wear meggings is understandable. Wearing leggings as pants is not an easy task. Spandex, with it’s tendency to cling to any lump, bump or bulge, is a notoriously unforgiving material. Also, over the last few years, leggings have been a wardrobe essential for women, not men.
Man leggings first hit the fashion circuit at Paris Fashion week in 2007 and recently showed at Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, and Givenchy. Local designer David Tlale has also sent meggings down the runway.
They are usually shown in cautious black, brown and grey shades, but more adventurous designers have been known to go wild with colourful prints and patterns.
Male leggings are made differently to women’s styles. “They are thicker and longer and remarkably stretchy,” said an American fashion blogger. “But wearing underwear with them is a bad idea.”
The fashion daredevils who will add meggings to their wardrobe will most likely be those already wearing skinny jeans. International celebrities such as Russell Brand (known for wearing blood constricting clothing) have been seen out and about in them.
Edgy designer Marc Jacobs (known to wear dresses and skirts) has also worn them.
But this trend is not just for the metrosexuals. Rapper Lil’ Wayne once adorned an animal print pair of meggings at an awards show.
Local fashion commentators don’t believe meggings will catch on in SA. “Purely because of the conservative nature of our society, I don’t think meggings will become a macro trend,” said blogger and fashion writer for Heat magazine, Sandiso Ngubane.
Sandiso says he has “always been an advocate for experimentation when it comes to fashion, but what works for one person may not work for the next.”
Maque de Gorgeous, top fashion commentator, blogger and fashion correspondent for SABC 3’s Flash, also thinks the conservative nature of SA men will stop meggings from making it big on our city streets, but he does believe that there is a current “resurgence of the daring gentleman.
“The uptake of trends from these aforementioned gents is amazing. They give a sense of hope that high street looks and markets exist in South Africa versus the daunting, yawn-inducing mainstream shopping outlets.
“Meggings are unlikely to make it to mainstream outlets, but the interest and growth in the high street fashion-seekers might see meggings being a staple add-on. Furthermore, meggings are not meant to be a trend, they’ve been around for many years and are as good as a LBD if you ask me; not trendy, but certainly not to be ignored,” said Maque.
Fashion journalist Mahlatse James of popular style blog, MJ and stuff, is one of the men who have gone out in public with meggings and he calls them a “fashion do”.
“I understand that the trend is a tad new and bound to raise a few brows with a few locals, but I forecast that it will grow, either among the fashion elite or even newer enthusiasts,” he said.
Designer, stylist and blogger Jerry Purfz said that he “would not be caught wearing meggings” but he did give some styling advice to anybody wanting to try the trend.
“Meggings can be worn with form-fitted short trousers, or shorts that come from above the knee to the mid-thigh. No short shorts are allowed. You cannot wear capris, culottes, or long pants with leggings. Keep the colours simple, wear basic colours, and keep patterns simple and clean,” he recommends.
Mahlatse and Sandiso believe that meggings are best worn with an oversized shirt, blazer or cardigan, in what they call the “classic fit vs volume approach”.
Maque de Gorgeous suggests that meggings should be worn as a casual item. “They are best worn under shorts, worn with coats for cold days, worn with long T-shirts, but never worn as pants,” he said.
Even though SA’s fashion insiders approve of meggings, most women that spoke to SM said they think a man in leggings is unacceptable.
Meggings may be fashionable, but they are definitely not for everyone.
Skinny male models, rock stars (Steven Tyler has been in spandex for decades), hipsters and fearless fashionistas will probably do this trend the most justice.
Men who don’t have great legs should stay away and leggings on muscular men are best left to the WWE ring. Even the king of daring men’s fashion, Kanye West, has decided to pass this trend up. He was sent a Louis Vuitton graffiti print pair, but he thought it best to wear them as a scarf. - Sunday Tribune