Spare tire? Love handles? Moobs? What man needs liposuction or abdominal sculpting when positive body images are just a compressing body-shaping garment away?
Spanx aren’t just for women any more, the New York Times‘ Styles section wants us to believe. Not only is there Spanx For Men, but brands including Equmen and Sculptees actually exist. And they’re selling like hot cakes — at least how hot cakes sell to men who need squeeze-y tees that squish in their guts.
Men’s “shapewear” is “the next big thing,” declared Michael Kleinmann, the president of Freshpair, which sells underwear to both sexes. Already, compression garments from brands like Equmen and Sculptees, to name two, have been selling briskly. Eighteen months ago, when Freshpair got Equmen’s compression T-shirts, “we sold out,” Mr. Kleinmann said. Men’s torso-enhancing T-shirts are part of a revolution in men’s underwear that has been taking place over the last decade, he said. Another popular but hush-hush product is profile-enhancing underwear, which he called “the equivalent of a push-up bra” for men.
The success of Equmen, an Australian label, is one reason department stores and online retailers have been eagerly awaiting Spanx for Men. At Saks Fifth Avenue, Equmen has been sold for less than a year and has already become one of the store’s best-selling underwear, said Eric Jennings, vice president for men’s fashion at Saks.
These things, which cost $89 and up, move off store shelves and online shopping carts because they’re branded as “problem solving.” That’s very different from letting male consumers think they’re cringe inducing, embarrassing, or — worst of all — feminine.
Stephen Viscusi, a career coach, recommends men wear Spanx to job interviews, so they can put their best foot, and not stomach, forward. (That double chin is your own problem.)
But the success of body-contouring garments among men says less about some consumer need and more about how marketers are succeeding in shaming dudes just enough to convince them there’s a problem, and this handy (and insanely tight) tee can fix it. Then again, your gay “best friends” have been doing this to you for years. Isn’t it about time straight guys felt the pressure?