It is really happening, the world is finally returning back to normal. People are beginning to shelve their sweats and rediscover the joys of dressing up.
And tights are no exception.
In fact, high quality tights are the building blocks of stylish workwear lending sleek and polish to any look. And let’s face it: after so many months of loungewear, ‘sleek’ and ‘polish’ are words we can all get behind.
As the owner of Threads, the direct-to-consumer retailer of high-quality and affordable tights, Xenia Chen is uniquely positioned at the forefront of this post-pandemic hosiery boom.
Threads is designed for real women, by real women. Investment banker turned designer, Xenia Chen, interviewed 200 women when creating the brand to ensure no detail or practical feature was overlooked. The result is a durable tight that has a longer leg, double-reinforced toe and shaping qualities that smooth and streamline without flattening the bum.
Notably, Threads launched ‘Threads for Men” over the summer offering long overdue representation in a category that mostly targeted women.
I had the opportunity to talk with Xenia Chen. I hope you enjoy the interview.
Veronica Charnell: Why did you decide to walk away from Investment Banking to become a Designer?
Xenia Chen: I started Threads because I wanted to solve a problem that I was facing almost everyday when I was working in investment banking. I wore tights and hosiery almost every day as part of my work wardrobe, but really struggled to find a brand that was both high-quality, well-made AND affordable. I found that I was either spending $10 at the drugstore for a pair that’s terrible quality or spending $60 on a pair that’s comfortable and luxurious, but still has some sort of shelf life before it rips or wears out. I began to notice my female coworkers were also experiencing the same frustrations when it came to their tights, whether it was about comfort or how much money they were spending. This motivated me to start doing my own research into the hosiery industry, where I learned there were virtually no companies out there that were making tights with women in mind.
Veronica Charnell: Why did you decide to focus on Tights instead of other Clothing Items?
Xenia Chen: Tights are such a core wardrobe staple and so many people wear them, whether for work or play. It was crazy to me that there wasn’t a better solution out there. It was always the subject of workplace chatter among my female colleagues so I knew there was a problem here that needed to be solved.
Veronica Charnell: Why did you name your company Threads?
Xenia Chen: I named it Threads because I think it embodies the spirit of hosiery and eventually, the other wardrobe staples that we want to expand into (things like baselayers, undershirts, etc.): pieces that are key, essential, and provide the foundation to our wardrobes but things that are often afterthoughts.
Veronica Charnell: What sets your products apart from your competitors?
Xenia Chen: Beyond being a high-quality product at a fair price, accomplished by working directly with our factory and removing the middlemen, we designed Threads by sourcing feedback from real people and trying to solve for their comfort first. We built our prototype using the feedback of 200 women. We surveyed them and asked them about what they loved or didn’t love about tights - everything from the product, shopping experience, purchase patterns, etc. And from that information, I tried to “solve” for the perfect solution. It’s not just the ripping that irritates women (although that is the number one frustration!), it’s a myriad of other factors such as finding the leg length not corresponding to the size, needing more reinforced toes, wanting a control top that’s just tight enough to hug your curves but not so tight that you can’t breathe. We’ve designed Threads (as a product and as a company) to solve all these little frustrations that people have.
Veronica Charnell: Your Men Tights is a very unique product. How did you come up with the design?
Xenia Chen: When we first launched Threads, we thought our target market would be women ages 25-65. We soon discovered that not only were women buying and loving our tights, but many guys were as well. At first, we thought these men were buying for their moms or wives but after doing more research and conducting user interviews, we realized that they were buying for themselves and our total addressable market was so much larger than we initially thought. Of course, the men who were buying to do drag or crossdress were to be expected but what we didn’t expect was the volume of cis-hetero men who were buying for warmth, comfort, or compression. Men have been wearing hosiery for decades but the reason you don’t hear about it as much is the fact that many of the incumbent hosiery brands are old-fashioned and traditional - there isn’t much representation in their marketing and thus, in the media.
Since late last year, we’ve been marketing to both women AND men and have even designed a product that is marketed solely towards men. Similar to what we did with our original tights, we worked with 150 of our existing male customers to design the product.
Veronica Charnell: Most consumers are concerned about Tights Tearing right after they purchase it. Can you talk about your Tights Durability?
Xenia Chen: Absolutely! Our tights are double-covered with 3D construction, which means that hosiery is constructed in a “criss-cross” fashion, meaning it’s much stronger withstanding rips and tears. Most tights you buy at the drugstore are single-covered and take about a third of the time to make, compared to Threads tights.
Veronica Charnell: Can you tell us more about your Subscription Box?
Xenia Chen: We had the idea about the subscription plans because one of the biggest pieces of feedback we received from customers during the research phase was that tights were often something that people forget to buy or have to actively remember to stock up on. Often, you don’t remember to stock up until you reach into a tights drawer that is either empty or full of tights that have holes in them. Our monthly subscription plan was our way to solve that. Customers can build a plan and have it come monthly or at whatever cadence they’d like. There’s no commitment - they can cancel, skip a month, or change styles at any point.