The sheer hosiery market has developed some holes.
A shift in generational tastes and cultural changes have fed a decline that began in the mid-Nineties. U.S. sheer sales decreased 16.3 percent last year, from $1.2 billion to $993 million, according to market research firm NPD Group.
When Hanesbrands Inc., the largest U.S. marketer of sheer hosiery, posted a fourth-quarter loss and reduced full-year profits in January, year-end sales in the sheer sector slid 14.6 percent to $185.7 million from $217.4 million the previous year.
Legwear executives said the decline began around 1995, when trends in apparel and footwear and more leniency in workplace dress codes encouraged women to abandon sheer hosiery or “nylons” and embrace a bare-legged look or one featuring opaque tights and pants. The result: Female consumers have relied less and less on hosiery as a necessity.
“There are very few consumers wearing hosiery as a staple, perhaps the older generation, but our culture has changed,” said Barry Tartarkin, sales director at Anew legwear. “It’s like the suit for men. Legwear is truly an accessory now, not a necessity. It’s like putting on jewelry or shoes. Women wake up and think, ‘How can I accessorize my look with legwear today?’”
Hanesbrands is relying on other categories to generate growth.
“Every year there’s been a decline for well over 10 years in the [sheer] category,” said Angela Hawkins, director and general merchandise manager for hosiery at Hanesbrands. “However, we’ve seen increases in tights, shapewear and in knee-highs, and those are helping to [offset] the decline.”
Hawkins pointed to initiatives the firm is launching this year to help curb the decreases, noting that 2009’s hosiery losses at Hanebrands were less than in 2008.
The company is embarking on a major marketing campaign that includes outreach to fashion books, as well as a potential TV spot touting its mass hosiery brand, L’eggs. Hawkins said the goal is to educate consumers about hosiery in conjunction with key retail partnerships to maintain “productive retail space.”
Although Hawkins said the sheer hosiery decline would eventually bottom out, Andrew Jassin, managing director at market research firm, Jassin Consulting Group, predicted the slide won’t soon subside.
“The casual workplace and fashion offering more opaques and patterned looks has really made the sheer business somewhat of a dinosaur in today’s market,” he said. “It may not be forever, but for this moment in time it certainly has been compromised. And I don’t see anything happening to turn that around. Where it bottoms out is almost anyone’s guess.”
Executives at legwear firms across the country are decreasing their hosiery offerings and bulking up on production of opaque tights and trend items, such as layering pieces and patterns.
John Flynn, vice president of sales at New York-based legwear manufacturer Levante USA, said the line’s sheer business has dropped 5 to 6 percent a year for the last 10 years and now constitutes 15 percent of the brand’s total business.
“We used to say we were in the hosiery business, not anymore,” Flynn said. “Now we’re in the legwear business. In the Fifties, even into the Seventies and Eighties, women would not leave the house without nylons. In 80-degree weather, they didn’t leave without hose on. Now women are bare legged or they’re in pants or tights.”
Hanesbrands sees a positive in sheer hosiery’s future as baby boomers age and require more coverage for a smooth leg effect. The brand is also relying on holidays and celebratory occasions to help boost sales in the sector.
“We don’t think the category is going away,” Hawkins said. “From a seasonality standpoint, from September through May, with peak seasons being back-to-school, Christmas and Easter, women will continue to wear sheer hosiery for special occasions. Through consumer engagement and investment, and through speaking to consumers, we can reignite our sales.”
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)