Lance Liggett was not even born yet when basketball legend Larry Bird and actress Farrah Fawcett rocked athletic shorts. A long cry from today’s basketball shorts which come down to the knee or even below, the shorts of the 1970s and early ‘80s were, in a word, short.
It’s a style that Liggett, 30, came to appreciate as a member of the Air National Guard. He wore athletic-cut shorts for workouts and more while serving.
“In the military, we always wore workout shorts called silkies,” the Murphysboro firefighter recalls. “you could run in them, you could swim in them and they were really unrestrictive and very comfortable.”
The thought of those shorts came back to Liggett as he would work out.
“I would see women exercising in colorful shorts and I’d see guys in really long, baggy basketball shorts. I began looking for the style of shorts that I wore in the military. I just couldn’t find anything like that,” he says.
Liggett, who calls himself a serial entrepreneur, reached out to a couple of friends including one who has her own line of clothing. Together, they began developing a line of military-style shorts as well as shirts and hats. They named the new brand Thigh Huggers, dubbing their clients as members of the Thigh High Club. The unisex shorts are available only online so far.
In just the first month, the company has sold hundreds of Liggett-designed items.
“With every new design we release, we usually get a batch of 40 from our manufacturer and those tend to last only about five or six days so the biggest thing right now is maintaining inventory,” he says.
Liggett, who handles all of the design and order fulfillment himself from the comfort of his own home, also has become the face of the company, complete with his own look — a throwback to the ‘70s.
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“I currently have a mustache and a mullet. It works very well for marketing,” he says, adding that the look is part of the branding.
“I want to have fun and build a fun brand. I want people to look at our YouTube videos and get a laugh, but I also want them to have a quality short that’s good for working out or just wearing around the house; one that they can wear out and make a statement,” he says. “One of my goals is to bring back the style of the early ‘80s because it’s cool.”
Thigh Huggers’ website says the company “appreciates the finer thighs in life,” a reference to those who choose to exercise in the shorts. “We believe that hard work and dedication should be shown off. Don’t skip leg day.”
The business offers a variety of prints and designs and offers clients the opportunity to design their own shorts. Liggett explains that custom shorts have been popular for sports teams and groups. Additionally, the company gives first responders and military personnel a discount.
“Our minimum order is just three, so we can do as many as someone needs,” he says, explaining that the company recently completed an order for a high school volleyball team.
He says he also is working with existing brands to create shorts for them, making Thigh Huggers both a retailer and wholesaler.
Liggett says he is embracing life as an entrepreneur.
“Honestly, I didn’t know much about clothing, but I always like to tell people that the resources are out there to learn,” he explains. “This has taken off a lot faster than I was expecting.”
He continues, “I’m very excited about this and I I just want to keep on going with it and have fun. I want to grow this as much as possible and keep learning. My overall goal is to help other people be able to start their own businesses, too. I’m going to learn as much as I can and then give that knowledge out. It’s good to get out there and try to accomplish goals.”