It’s the trend that keeps on giving, even though industry insiders predicted it would be long gone by now. The legging is gaining importance at retail and transitioning from a basic black accessory popularized in the Eighties to a fashionable part of a contemporary wardrobe.
Sensing a desire from consumers for versatility and comfort, contemporary and high-end designers are branching out with novelty styles and luxurious materials, such as cashmere and Italian leather. The new legging is a far cry from the cotton or spandex staple of yesteryear, and consumers are willing to pay the price.
“Women today are investing in pieces that take them through seasons, and our leggings definitely do that,” said Lori Kaufthal, vice president of sales at Helmut Lang, whose leather and suede pairs retail for up to $875. “Women can wear them under a dress or a great shirt or a boyfriend blazer, and it makes sense. Women want clothes that make sense in their wardrobe.”
Kate Ciepluch, fashion director at Shopbop.com, cited Helmut Lang leggings as top sellers, as well as ripped pairs by fledgling brand Leyendecker, which at a $125 price tag has seen almost 100 percent sell-through. Additional trends within the category include sequins, floral patterns and denim.
“This season, leggings have definitely gone more fashion-forward and our business is really strong,” said Ciepluch. “More people who thought they could never wear them are turning to them. They’re more comfortable than pants, and some jeans can’t give you that skinny, narrow leg.”
Ciepluch also noted leggings with special details, such as studding or equestrian stirrup bottoms, have seen little to no price resistance among consumers.
Jessica Moss, president and co-designer of Leyendecker, said her leggings have become a “cult hit” among trend-driven shoppers.
“We like to keep it special,” Moss said. “If you want basic leggings, you can get them from people who do basic leggings. We offer something fun and special. They are more expensive, but, to be fair, they are made in the U.S. and hand-ripped.”
Luxury firms such as Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen and Ports 1961 have also added leggings to their retail offerings. McCartney’s top out at $1,495 for a sequined pair, while Ports offers a cashmere style at $525.
“Our leggings are a piece of affordable luxury and a great way to layer,” said Elizabeth Colletta, vice president of sales at Ports 1961. “They are faring strongly at retail, and we’d certainly like to keep it going for as long as customers are reacting to it. Between the response at wholesale and retail, it’s definitely something we plan to continue.”
Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet added more details to her classic legging, such as leather panels and suede. In a troubled economy, women are buying sexier items and those with added value, she said.
Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director at Henri Bendel, picked up the brand’s $728 leather leggings for fall, as well as leather styles by Elise Øverland and knit pieces by Diane von Furstenberg and Missoni.
“There are very few items that can hit this sweet spot of fashion meets function and are accessible to most body shapes,” Watson said. “Those are the items that become ‘must have,’ and they are key items you can run with.”
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)