Threads For Men Founder Unspools The Thinking Behind Her Line Of Men’s Hosiery

Threads for Men hosiery tights

When she first realized men were placing online orders for some of her brand’s signature hosiery, Threads founder Xenia Chen assumed they might be purchasing them for their wives. Or their mothers. Or . . . some other women in their lives.

Then she followed up via e-mail, and realized that, even in the midst of a pandemic, there was a void in the menswear market Threads may be uniquely designed to fill.

“Our customers get an e-mail from me after every purchase where I ask them for feedback,” Chen recently told Menwhere by phone. “I learned that a lot of the men were actually buying the products for themselves. There are men who do drag or are cross-dressers, but there is also a huge segment of Cis-hetero men who are looking at hosiery for comfort or for warmth, for style.”

This became the impetus for the launch this past summer of Threads for Men, a subscription-optional line of high-quality, affordable tights aimed at what Chen estimated accounts for about 50 per cent of her existing clientele.

Threads for Men

Unlike the original Threads which she founded in 2018, however, Threads for men has a singular mission: to end what she described as the stigma surrounding men’s hosiery. 

Chen explained that Threads for Men is not based on a hunch about the market but actual data. The company regularly runs ads through Facebook, whose algorithm helped point towards men as potential customers. 

Even once the pandemic hit last year and Threads slowed down its ad spend, however, Chen said men were still buying tights. 

“Unlike women, who tend to wear tights when they’re going out, (men) will wear tights out but also inside sometimes,” she said. “It may be the compression and the comfort factor.”

It was during this time when the volume of male customers outpaced female customers — where, for a while, 80% were men, Chen said.

“When you look at the numbers, you could see they don’t lie,” she said. “We started talking to them more and started to learn more about mens’ preferences and why they wore (tights), what their wish list might include and their ideal hosiery experience.”

Rather than simply slapping a “for men” on her existing brand, however, Chen said she wanted to ensure her expansion would demonstrate intentionality in terms of design. Threads for Men products are designed in Italy with 81% Polyamide and 19% Elastane. The result is intended to be both elastic and breathable, and microfiber double-covered yarn is meant to be less likely to stick to the inside of a pantleg. 

Other details include a contoured waistband, an enhanced leg length that’s more realistic for male customers and a reinforced toe.

Perhaps most significantly, the hand-sewn Threads for Men product line includes a brief with a supportive pouch and fly, which has obvious benefits for its target demographic.

Hosiery brands, of course, have tended to be highly traditional, even if they’ve been around for decades. This meant most have been resistant to change and not necessarily inclusive of non-binary or genderless fashion, let alone men.

A quick look through the history books, however, will remind anyone that tights were a men’s staple in the days of Shakespeare, Louis IV and up until the late 1800s. That doesn’t mean it’s easy for men to be public about their interest in hosiery, however. 

“Men will e-mail us and ask ‘What’s the packaging like?’” Chen said. “They might have nosy neighbours and not want them to know they’re ordering hosiery. We have a lot of customers from the midwest U.S. — very Republican states and very conservative.”

Online it’s a different story, where a community on Reddit called “Tights for All” opened up to both men and women last year. A blog called simply “Hosiery for Men” has been running for more than a decade.

Chen also pointed to the growing number of celebrities — from Harry Styles and A$AP Rocky to Kid Cudi — who are experimenting with traditionally female fashion elements such as skirts and nail polish. It’s just another proof point that gives her confidence that Threads for Men will find a receptive audience. 

“It’s important for these men to see representation — to see a brand really trying,” she said. “It’s a really interesting time for this type of fashion. And it’s not a fad, but it’s here to stay.”