this thing's incredible

These (Actually Wearable) Men’s Leggings Are Inspired by Bullfighters’ Pants

The author in his “meggings.” Photo: Jena Cumbo

This year, I decided I was going to be the guy who wears leggings all the time. It wasn’t our end-of-days, strictly indoors existence that led me to lean into leggings, but rather a bout of debilitating sciatica I developed after a disc in my lower spine herniated in 2019. The recovery process included 12 months of physical therapy and yoga, leaving me with a more toned body — specifically, butt, thighs, and calves — than ever before. Leggings, I realized, would best show off my new thicc self; they would be a shape-defining silver lining to my medical crisis.

Or so I thought. Turns out the men’s leggings you can find at stores like Target and Macy’s are not really made with men in mind. They’re often too small or made with thin, overly stretchy materials. Plenty of sportswear brands like Nike and Adidas have stronger, tougher leggings marketed toward men. But those styles are really geared toward athletes; they’re often made with extremely high-compression materials that aren’t suitable for all-day wear. But my biggest complaint with lots of the men’s leggings I’ve tried? How they make it very easy for strangers on the street to, let’s say, tell if your banana is peeled or unpeeled. So-called yoga leggings for men, like Lululemon’s men’s tights, are prime suspects when it comes to this unwanted exposure. You might say, “Just wear shorts over them!” But that entirely defeats the purpose of a streamlined leggings-only look.

After many months of researching and trying leggings with unsatisfactory results, a friend of mine — an experienced fashion publicist — suggested (the … creatively named) Matador Meggings to me and insisted I try a few samples. The company’s founder, Valentine Aseyo, actually conceived of it while training to be a yogi. As Aseyo tells it, he could never find leggings he was comfortable enough to wear in front of his otherwise all-female classmates, so he decided to make his own inspired by the traje de luces — or suits of light — worn by bullfighters of his native Spain. Those suits include skintight trousers that minimize the chance of anything snagging on a bull’s horn. “I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Aseyo told me about his product. “I’m just building a better one, with a better crotch situation.”

Matador’s leggings’ crotch situation takes the form of a contoured, removable (for easy cleaning) pouch that sits snugly in a small sleeve at the front of the pants. The triangle of fabric recalls the ancient codpieces worn centuries ago, but is shaped to present one’s package in a most flattering (and discreet) way. Crotch aside, there’s a lot more to like about the leggings. Their moisture-wicking lycra fabric keeps me reasonably dry even through the hardest workouts. They come in sizes from S–2XL, and in a variety of bright colors and funky patterns in addition to more modest blacks and grays. There is a seamless pocket on each leg (one has a zipper for protecting valuables), a wide, sturdy loop on the back for towels and discarded T-shirts, and a nonslip waistband with a concealed inner drawstring for extra security.

I’ve not only worn mine for (socially distanced) workouts at the gym and at-home yoga classes, but also to (outdoor) brunches in Brooklyn, on hikes upstate, while shopping in Soho, to a rooftop dance party (just one!), and, of course, for plenty of lounging around my apartment. A few folks have stopped me on the street to marvel at them and, every once in a while, I will turn my head and catch a masked passerby’s eyes glancing up and down my backside.

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These (Wearable) Men’s Leggings Nod to Bullfighters’ Pants