They're the pants people love to hate — leggings for men, also known as meggings.
Now the owners of a new Chicago company say meggings are about to go mainstream. In December, Adam Freck and Andrew Volk formed Meggings Man, an online store offering 15 styles starting at $29.99.
Their leggings are modified to better suit the "male physique," featuring a faux zipper and a triangular insert along the hip and outer thighs to allow more room in the "front area of the man," Freck said.
Meggings Man customers have bought the product to wear to clubs, to work out and even to dress up with a blazer, Volk said.
Pittsburgh resident Doug North Cook, 26, said he wears his American flag meggings to go running or cycling. He also plans to wear them out dancing this weekend, he said.
How do they feel when they're on? "Delicious," North Cook said.
Fashion experts weigh in
The concept of meggings isn't new. Givenchy first introduced leggings in its spring/summer 2009 collection. The leggings are meant to be worn under shorts or under men's skirts, according to an e-mailed response from the luxury brand. Givenchy declined to comment on whether the trend would spread to the masses.
On the runway, leggings have been used more as a "styling touch, not something to be taken literally," said Wendell Brown, senior fashion editor at Esquire magazine.
Men already wear leggings to work out, but there are glimpses of leggings in street wear.
"They were put out as a scientific fabric that can breathe, which is why I think guys felt comfortable about it," said Scott Schuman, founder of the fashion blog The Sartorialist.
Schuman said he sees men from the "avant-garde scene" wearing leggings under shorts.
These are people "who would be considered super artistic and very far from sports but are going, 'Hey, maybe this is something I could borrow from and wear it in a cool way.'"
Schuman said he thinks leggings for men are "a great layer to have," although he has not seen men wearing leggings without shorts.
To do that, he said, "You better be a ballet guy. You better have a good bootie."
Spotted on the streets of New York City in 2012, GQ weighed in on the "meggings movement" in a single word: No.
Megan Collins, who blogs at Style Girlfriend, agreed and said, "The only place leggings belong in a man's closet is in a drawer he has reserved for his girlfriend."
On the other hand, fashion trends can change very quickly, Brown said. Skinny jeans on men used to be ridiculed.
Now, if you're a trendier man wearing relaxed fit jeans, "you'll be made fun of for wearing dad jeans," Brown said.
TV host and comedian Conan O'Brien might be ahead of the trend. He rocked a pair of men's jeggings — jean leggings — during a show in 2010.
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