written by Inna, Ukraine
When Hosiery Drastically Changed a Man’s life
There is no mystery in the fact that the most renowned fashion designers, stylists and hear-dressers are men. So, probably we wouldn’t raise our eyebrows at all to being told a happy ending story about a businessman who found his devotion to hosiery manufacturing, as the story of this lucky man falls seamlessly under man-in-fashion-and-beauty lore definition. Except for one thing: namely, that our Ukrainian culture has never bargained for it.
Maxim Kuzmenko, the owner and ardent ruler of OMAX International company, based in the Ukraine, was pondering over his own business since getting the last classes of his school education. His commercial streak was being honed during the early 90’s. At that time, the future leg-wear factory mogul occupied himself with marketing consumer and industrial goods of different kinds into the country, largely importing (what at that time verged on smuggling) them from abroad.
The first ever glint of thought about entering the hosiery business crossed Maxim’s mind when he was told about a Russian who owned and kept a luxury yacht at the pier of Monte-Carlo, who had made his fortune on selling women’s tights and hosiery. A trip to Italian hosiery manufacture solidified even more his decision to take a shot at this industry. Moreover, at that time his country had only one would-be competitor, and an immense gap in market demand versus supply.
I’m not going to relate the whole chronicle of the OMAX boss’s genesis, but it’s worth noting that his path into hose-knitting Heaven wasn’t so easy, due to the nature of the product he was dealing with. He faced ups and downs in his industrious efforts to cobble together the best experts, up-to-date equipment, novel technologies and reliable partners. A lot of changes had happened since the moment Maxim Kuzmenko tweaked and dyed first number of so-called “tubes” and wholesaled them to the local market retailers, but probably the most important change that occurred was in his attitude to this women-aimed fancy item itself – pantyhose.
Had you have lived in the Ukraine of the 90’s you would well know the quirky way this society functioned. In short, with the common denominator asserting that man’s role is restricted to men’s duty (We’re proud Cossacks, aren’t we?), there was no leeway for deviating from the brave horsemen’s descender-type routine. Picking hosiery production as his staple business direction, Maxim Kuzmenko risked not only his money on that project, but the status of himself as a seriously established man in general. In a country that had no respect for private business at the moment, it was the common rule to severely judge and leer (I assume, enviously) at others who tried to build up revenue-generating ventures of their own. And who in a sober mind would consider a man investing in a tights and stockings factory quite weighty amounts of money to be sane?
I don’t actually know all the vivid labels Maxim might have been tagged with (‘underskirt voyeur’ is the most diplomatic one that occurs to me), but what I know for sure is such an overwhelming skew in public opinion didn’t thwart his resolution to go further and on with OMAX International. With passage of time he was slowly coming to terms with his own undertaking. Studying newly appearing fibres, painstaking schemes of weaving, installing new machines, meeting prominent Italian Collant (Tights- Eng.) Valley’s plant owners, monitoring women’s opinion of his product gradually led him to a sincere appreciation of his work, and seeing grateful responses from the customers finally proved that he had made the right choice. Maxim’s spouse and mother-in-law, as well as the rest of the female co-workers’ at the factory, provided a firm basis for striving against the mainstream. And now, Intuition and Magic Lady pantyhose trade marks, launched by a self-made businessman who bravely opted for this “out of the mainstream” industry, are seen almost everywhere in Ukrainian retail and are marketed in neighbouring states, as well.
And now, years after hearing of a Russian luxury yacht owner who had made his fortune selling women’s hosiery, Maxim Kuzmenko, Head of Omax International has his own luxury yacht, except instead of being moored at Monte Carlo, it is moored at Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.