Are American men ready to embrace the sensuous thrill of lace underwear and other sensuous goodies typically found in a woman’s lingerie drawer?
That’s the provocative concept behind new L.A. brand Menagerié, which aims to be the first mainstream fashion label specializing in luxe lingerie for men.
“Menagerié is for men who are attracted to people and possessions that are beautiful and dear to them. It is for anyone who will appreciate it,” founder Roman Sipé said in an interview with Lingerie Talk.
Menagerié‘s debut collection, called The Magic Hour, features a variety of lace and silk bottoms (including the signature lace cycle shorts pictured above), along with sleepwear and lounge styles that blend masculine styling with fabrics commonly found in women’s boudoir fashions. (Designer Sipé added the accent on the final ‘e’ in the brand name, which is pronounceed men-ahg-eray, so it would rhyme with lingerie.)
Menagerié was originally aiming for a spring launch, but some pieces in the collection are being rushed to market with an online pre-sale this week after the label was received enthusiastically at private viewings during New York Fashion Week.
Beginning Friday, shoppers can order brief and boxer styles from the company webshop and receive their orders before Christmas. A full brand launch will follow in the spring, offering robes, jogger pants, tops and other loungewear styles shown in the photo gallery at the bottom of this page.
The notion of ‘lingerie for men’ has been around since the 1980s, but it’s mostly an underground niche market serving the gay community, cross-dressers and straight men with a specific fetish for wearing women’s undergarments. A few brands — XDress and Male Power in the U.S. and Homme Mystere in Australia — have emerged to serve an exceptionally private customer base that shops almost exclusively online.
Men’s lingerie made a tentative move toward the style mainstream about two years ago when Italian fashion house Versace sent male models down the runway in slinky lace and mesh underwear during Milan Fashion Week. And this year, the venerable Italian lingerie brand La Perla wowed the Pitti Uomo men’s fashion week show in Milan by introducing a men’s range that included the kind of sheer looks and luxury fabrics associated with its high-end women’s collections.
However, many of the pieces seen on Versace‘s catwalk never made it into stores, and La Perla‘s metrosexual eurostyling focuses more on billowy robes and pants rather than sexy undies.
With Menagerié, Sipé aims to bring men’s lingerie out of the closet with a flourish.
According to the company website, Menagerié‘s lacy styles “co-ordinate well with high-end ladies’ lingerie” and are meant to be “shared and enjoyed” by romantic couples of any orientation.
“Of course the gay community will be drawn to it, but this is not an exotic novelty,” Sipé told us. “I want to break down the barriers that have made it a niche market. This is for everyone.”
Sipé, 25, is an L.A. stylist and “all-round fashion boy” who launched the trendy curated shopping site Roman’s Closet in 2011 (“because people said I have one of the most glorious closets”). He began developing Menagerié earlier this year after winning a style competition that included a cash prize.
“My financial advisor said ‘You’re going to have pay taxes at the end of the year, so are there any projects you want to do?’
“You know that expression, ‘create the thing you wish existed’? I really wanted to create a men’s intimate wear brand because I always wanted better underwear and I always loved lace.”
Sipé spent four months developing samples to ensure his underwear styles met the two requirements that all men look for — fit and comfort. Menagerié‘s lacy bottoms use a form-fitting stretch lace and a custom compression piece in front that eliminates the manly bulge.
“The fit is going to wow people,” he said. “It’s sort of like wearing nothing at all.”
Sipé (right) relied on social media for market testing and then took his design samples to New York Fashion Week to get feedback from industry friends. The response was overwhelming, he said, and confirmed his belief that the American fashion industry was ready for Menagerié.
“The amount of feedback I got without doing any marketing was amazing, definitely enough for me to take the chance,” he said.
“Most of my friends are women, and I asked them ‘Would you like to see your guy in this?’ And every single one of them said ‘Yes, this is hot!'”
Sipé said his debut collection was “definitely” inspired by Versace‘s 2013 men’s show and felt a kind of validation when he saw images of La Perla‘s Pitti Uomo show in June. The time is right, he said, for men to start expanding their understanding of fashion undergarments.
“The idea of what a man is has completely evolved,” she said. “Before, a lot of guys weren’t talking about who or what they were wearing. Now we have guys like Jared Leto who are openly embracing their feminine side and who want beautiful things.
“We’re finally realizing that men are looking for adornment in fashion, too. Guys actually yearn for luxury.”
Sipé has ambitious plans to push the needle in men’s underwear. “I want to be in Barney’s by the end of next year,” he proclaims. “And if not there, then maybe Patricia Field or Opening Ceremony.”
He’s also determined to attract attention from major fashion magazines and, hopefully, pansexual celebrity tastemakers like Prince or Miguel.
The primary goal of Menagerié, though, isn’t much different than that of other lingerie brands: to become the romantic gift of choice for lovers on special occasions.
“Someone asked me, ‘Is this like a gag gift?'” Sipé said. “But it’s not. It’s meant to be something special. It’s a Valentine’s Day gift from someone who says ‘I want to see you in this.’
“It’s something romantic, something sensual, something new.”