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.
“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)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews