It’s 9.30a.m. and 11 degrees at Yuen Long MTR station in Hong Kong. And there are a lot of men in tights. Super hero convention?
Upon closer inspection, these tights are footless. Eighties appreciation society?
No, Yuen Long is the man muster point for Sunday warriors. These guys are cyclists and runners.
I am there waiting for hiking friends, though tightless.
The Sunday warriors are not entirely comfortable in their man tights. There is discreet pulling at gussets under their shorts. Some frustration that protein bar crumbs stick to the tights’ fabric and defy being easily brushed off. Some worry that drips from an isotonic sports drink will mark the fabric and some irony that utilitarian water is required to dab these stains-to-be.
We all go about out sporting activities for the day. Later that night, I wonder if the Sunday warriors are putting their man tights in the wash. Are they in a tangle? A man-tight-tangle?
A few days later, I ask a male friend about this new fashion for man tights. He bristles. ‘They are compression tights,’ he says.
Compression tights? What new ‘hosiery-for-
him’ is this? I Sherlock it (seeing as we are using cool man expressions instead of normal words).
My investigations discover ‘compression tights’ have heroic sporting attributes. They are part-Olympian, part-lycra. In reviews on blogs, men write of their legs going from ‘slack to firm, without any flexing’ then go on to marvel at how ‘sleek and aerodynamic’ they look in their compression tights.
The claims of sports retailers are yet more red-blooded. ‘Compression tights deliver power and stamina.’ They ‘focus your muscles’. I wonder if these tights are legal.
Here comes the rub, guys. Well, the other rub. In tights departments across the world, women – and inevitably the one man who is bizarrely there with his wife or girlfriend – know very well about the existence of shaper tights and slimming leggings. They promise to tame our tummies and tone our pear-shaped bottoms. Sunday warriors – say hello to what your compression tights actually are. They are a ‘nom de guerre’ for slimming tights targeting your man-problem areas. Sure, thigh-slayers. Conquistadors of your glutes and guts. But slimming tights nonetheless.
And be aware, blokes, these are gateway slimming garments. Spanx are knickers that hold your stomach in, and you’re not that far away from a shopping trip for ‘compression sports shorts’, are you? Or a ‘compression sports vest’ which, you will deny with fury, would actually be a garment to pull in your torso, which would make it… a man corset?
Hey, I’d be happy to leave you to romp around in your compression gear, except for one thing: there is a dividend of giving clothes fancy names and claims, and the implications of aggrandizing apparel is evident on the hangers of sport stores. Exercise clothes are now enormously expensive because of the extra skills they have amassed.
A recent search for a basic hoodie led me to several audible expulsions of air – good cardio, shopping, – after seeing the price. HKD669 for a top in Adidas?
How come so expensive, I asked. ‘It’s attire for my pre-game zone,’ I was told, being further directed to the inspirational quotes from athletes in different languages in the lining. I don’t need encouragement by my armpit. Nor do I want to pay for it.
Sunday warriors, it is rare I invite men into the ladies’ underwear department. But most of you are small-boned Asian guys. Just buy actual shaper tights and female Spanx – and save us all from a manflationary effect on the price of exercise gear.