After years of showing bare legs on the runway, designers have embraced hosiery once again, and legwear makers are loving it.
Last year was a strong one for the hosiery industry, and brands benefited from designers’ interest in covering the legs. Now, as the momentum continues, they are experimenting with color and texture, and brands like Proenza Schouler, Betsey Johnson and Anna Sui presented fall collections where the hosiery was not just an accessory, it was a central part of each look.
With its consistent presence on February’s runways — in such styles as sheer, sparkled Lurex and strong blocks of color — the category shows no signs of slowing and has led to healthy sales at department and specialty stores.
U.S. legwear sales grew 6.2 percent to $3.04 billion last year from $2.9 billion in 2005, according to market research fi rm The NPD Group. Tights led the gains, surging 52.8 percent to $172.2 million.
Vendors are optimistic that the pace will continue for fall, especially with regard to novelty trends. But even the sheer category, which was deemed out of fashion in recent years, could be rediscovered because of its exposure at fall shows including Chanel, Hervé Léger and Phillip Lim.
Socks again proved to be one of spring’s strongest performers and this is expected to extend into fall and holiday. Designers are trying varied novelty trends in the category, showing feminine ankle socks in cotton and nylon that retailers are pairing with high heels or ballerina flats.
In keeping with today’s eco-friendly movement, a common thread among the brands on the top 10 list is the push toward natural fibers and nontoxic technologies. Bamboo is now a common fiber, and natural cottons and harm-free dyes are also popular. Additionally, legwear brands are adding shape and bodywear to their selections, offering women comfortable and affordable ways of looking great under their garments.
Sister brands Hanes and L’eggs once again top this year’s legwear list, ranking one and two, respectively.
This spring, Hanes introduced Silk Refl ections Transparent Sheer Toeless, which is designed to match any skin tone. The toeless styling was created to complement sandals. Key features include a breathable control-top panty and a sheer nylon and spandex combination to provide a great fit. In terms of bodywear, the Hanes Smooth Illusions Go Figure collection expanded its offerings with the Go Figure Seamless Waist Smoother. The seamless styling does not cling to clothes and provides a sleek look. The fi rmer compression allows for more smoothing and slimming. Additionally, Hanes is introducing two tights styles under the Silk Reflections brand, in opaque and ribbed varieties.
L’eggs continues to be the leading hosiery brand for the budget-conscious, but style-driven consumer. Its legwear emphasizes comfort, fit and feel. Recently, the brand introduced the Silken Mist Waist Cinching Shaper, offering high-waisted styling that smooths and shapes natural curves. Additional bodyshaping collections include Profi les, Smoother and Toner, which will hit selling floors in time for the holidays. According to the brand, nearly two-thirds of women look for more comfortable styles when purchasing hosiery. In response, L’eggs created Waistband Free technology for its Silken Mist and Sheer Energy collections that gives a more comfortable fit.
Placing third is Greensboro, N.C.-based No Nonsense, which marked 35 years in business this year. It has stretched beyond its familiar little orange packets of sheer hose by launching product in updated packaging and casting its first ad campaign in 10 years. Where hosiery once accounted for 90 percent of the brand’s portfolio, according to Julia Townsend, executive vice president and general manager of Kayser-Roth Corp., No Nonsense now has 50 percent of its offerings in hosiery, 45 percent in casual legwear and 5 percent in intimates. The company also struck a deal with Fashion Bug to produce and distribute an exclusive line of sleepwear. In November, No Nonsense inaugurated an ad campaign “that celebrates the No Nonsense woman,” running in magazines including O, the Oprah Magazine, In Style and Glamour.
Ranking fourth this year is Calvin Klein hosiery, licensed to American Essentials. Known for its neutral hues and ribbed styles, Calvin Klein has helped establish legwear as a prominent trend. According to Michele Slade, vice president of sales and marketing for American Essentials, the designer brand is incorporating mohair and merino wool into its cabled ribbed styles. It’s moving forward with the layered look from the runway, in which women can pair opaque tights with over-the-knee socks and legwarmers, which are all under the Calvin Klein legwear umbrella.
Nine West comes in at number five, up two spots from last year. With creative director Fred Allard at the helm, Nine West is becoming a more full-fashioned brand, taking inspirations from runways and making them more budget-friendly. It also continues to focus on basic opaques in a range of colors.
In sixth place is classic dance brand Danskin, which is still prioritizing feminine, fashion-forward styles that are eco-friendly and budget-conscious. The exercise market has also become a point of focus. Danskin is offering legwear in a variety of fi ts geared toward running, lifting or yoga. Within the collection are premium technical fabrics that offer comfort and moisture management. Styles include such attributes as UV protection in the fabric as well as antimicrobial properties to inhibit bacterial growth and odor.
Gold Toe, at seven, is having a strong year. With a line of athletic styles launched under the Sport Tec banner and the Gold Toe Women’s All Day Comfort collection, the brand is clearly targeting the athletic market. It is also making a big environmental push, using more bamboo, soy fiber and organic cotton and hemp to make up the Eco FX collection. During the second half of 2008, Gold Toe will launch an e-commerce Web site with information about legwear trends, socks and leg health.
Burlington continues to focus on the sheer market, where its nylon collection offers a variety of styles, sizes and colors. It landed in the eighth slot on the list.
At number nine, Donna Karan offers basic pantyhose as well as trendy, stylish opaque tights. In keeping with Karan’s modern, urbane aesthetic, her legwear in hues such as cobalt, gray, chocolate and brown have seen solid success at retail.
Finishing up the list is Spanx, which is adding to its product offerings to comprise more than the body-shaping pieces that made it famous. Updated categories include regular hose and fishnets, both with Spanx’s tummytucking capabilities.
@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)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews