Sleeper Hit of the Year: Spanx for Men

When Spanx, the company known for its concealing, shape-enhancing women’s undergarments, introduced its first pieces of shapewear for men in February, the general reaction was, well, laughter.

But the real joke, as The New York Times reports, is that men’s shapewear has been a smash hit at the point of sale. Guys across the country are embracing what it means to lift and separate, to flatten and smooth and to finally be able to hide whatever they might be afraid of showing through their shirts.

And though the in-store sales of products like Spanx t-shirts, Equmen tank tops and Ript Fusion undershirts have been high, online sales have been even better. For obvious reasons.

“We’ve noticed, as good as in-store sales are — and they are good — the online sales are better,” said David Witman, the men’s general merchandise manager for Nordstrom. Men “might be embarrassed to ask for it, but they want it,” he said.

Sellers and manufacturers say the products have non-aesthetic benefits, too, such as improving the wearer’s posture and self confidence. And it’s these reasons, not the garments’ slimming effect, that men tend to emphasize.

While women tend to gush about what has been called the “flesh-compressing miracle of Spanx,” men are more likely to point to how super-tight tees relieve their back pain. Robert Hytner, a 51-year-old former defense contracting executive in New York, turned to Equmen shirts after a back injury, and then got hooked because they improved his silhouette. “Whatever garment I put on top, I had a tight look,” he said of his 10 Equmen undershirts. He says his back pain is gone, too.

Call us old-fashioned, but we’re just going to keep sitting up straight and going to the gym. Because no matter how much better we might look in our slim-fit shirts from Topman, we’re still concerned someone would make fun of us for wearing a girdle. And that would do more damage to our self esteem than Lycra t-shirt could ever fix.

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