By  on April 28, 2008

Hue wants to make big strides on its 30th anniversary.

The Kayser-Roth-owned legwear giant is expanding beyond its core category and setting bold retail initiatives.

In the last five years, the Greensboro, N.C.-based firm has launched sleepwear and panties, and for fall will unveil a bra collection in partnership with Ariela-Alpha International. And by the end of next month, it plans to open two more Hue Studio stores, in Boston and Atlanta, to join its current units in Charlotte, N.C., Cleveland and Venice in Italy.

"Hue has had a lot of great years of growth," said Julia Townsend, executive vice president and general manager for Kayser-Roth Corp., citing the past decade. "We've expanded into categories beyond legwear stemming from 2004, when we said, 'Hey this is a great legwear brand, but the brand is so much more than legwear. What else can the brand be? What else can this brand bring to the consumer?'"

Indeed, Hue has come a long way from Sandy Chilewich's loft in lower Manhattan, where in 1978 she and co-founder Kathy Moskal started designing tights in eye-popping shades. In 1992 the company was purchased by The Leslie Fay Cos. Inc., which sold it to Kayser-Roth in 1999.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary, Hue designed a limited collection of Hue Anniversary tights that feature bold, colorful patterns in special anniversary packaging. The collection consists of five styles, ranging from geometric circles and squares to florals. Each style comes in multiple colors and will hit stores in August, retailing for $24.

The brand will continue the fall advertising campaign that launched in 2007 and asks, "How do you Hue?" The concept is based on how women accessorize their Hue pieces and put them together in their own way.

Industry sources estimated that Hue's retail business is valued at $150 million. The brand was worth just under $45 million in 2001, the sources said.

With its fledgling lifestyle categories and retail expansion, Townsend expects the firm to grow 30 percent in the next five years.

Although the overall legwear category hasn't always been on such a consistent rise, it grew 6.2 percent last year to $3.04 billion, compared with $2.9 billion in 2005, according to market research firm The NPD Group. Tights lead the group, surging 52.8 percent to $172.2 million.Industry insiders attribute the gains to the increasing popularity of dresses on the runway and at retail. Hue has been an integral part of both fronts, touting legwear as a true fashion accessory.

Hue paired its tights on 34 runways during New York's fall 2008 fashion week, including those of Rachel Roy, Monique Lhuillier, Charlotte Ronson and Luca Luca. Last year, Hue launched its Guest Designer Program by affording fledgling brands an opportunity to create a capsule legwear collection. Hue premiered the concept with designer Tracy Reese and for this fall partnered with contemporary label Tibi.

"Sometimes we measure the importance of legwear by how many designers call us to supply their runway shows," Townsend said. "It's a way to say, 'Legwear is back and it's important.' It has also been exciting to see tights return as fashion accessories. They provide so much opportunity for fashion. They're a wonderful vehicle to tell a fashion story, and because of our long-standing relationship with so many designers, it felt natural to do a more closely knit collaboration instead of providing things we make.

"We also have a significant position in legwear departments across America," she said. "So it's a great way for designers to interpret what the category means to them without the commitment on their part of an entire legwear program and a commitment for retailers, as well."

In February when the line was launched, Tibi designer Amy Smilovic told WWD, "I think our use of novelty and detailed prints made us an interesting company for Hue to work with. And once we met with them, it was this perfect marriage of ideas. As a company, we are identifying areas where people want to see the Tibi name and tights have always been up there. The category is having such a moment right now and for us it's been frustrating scouring the Internet looking for tights for shows. So when Hue fell out of the sky, it was perfect."HUE WANTS TO MAKE BIG STRIDES ON ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY.

The Kayser-Roth-owned legwear giant is expanding beyond its core category and setting bold retail initiatives.

In the last five years, the Greensboro, N.C.-based firm has launched sleepwear and panties, and for fall will unveil a bra collection in partnership with Ariela-Alpha International. And by the end of next month, it plans to open two more Hue Studio stores, in Boston and Atlanta, to join its current units in Charlotte, N.C., Cleveland and Venice in Italy."Hue has had a lot of great years of growth," said Julia Townsend, executive vice president and general manager for Kayser-Roth Corp., citing the past decade. "We've expanded into categories beyond legwear stemming from 2004, when we said, 'Hey this is a great legwear brand, but the brand is so much more than legwear. What else can the brand be? What else can this brand bring to the consumer?'"

Indeed, Hue has come a long way from Sandy Chilewich's loft in lower Manhattan, where in 1978 she and co-founder Kathy Moskal started designing tights in eye-popping shades. In 1992 the company was purchased by The Leslie Fay Cos. Inc., which sold it to Kayser-Roth in 1999.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary, Hue designed a limited collection of Hue Anniversary tights that feature bold, colorful patterns in special anniversary packaging. The collection consists of five styles, ranging from geometric circles and squares to florals. Each style comes in multiple colors and will hit stores in August, retailing for $24.

The brand will continue the fall advertising campaign that launched in 2007 and asks, "How do you Hue?" The concept is based on how women accessorize their Hue pieces and put them together in their own way.

Industry sources estimated that Hue's retail business is valued at $150 million. The brand was worth just under $45 million in 2001, the sources said.

With its fledgling lifestyle categories and retail expansion, Townsend expects the firm to grow 30 percent in the next five years.

Although the overall legwear category hasn't always been on such a consistent rise, it grew 6.2 percent last year to $3.04 billion, compared with $2.9 billion in 2005, according to market research firm The NPD Group. Tights lead the group, surging 52.8 percent to $172.2 million.

Industry insiders attribute the gains to the increasing popularity of dresses on the runway and at retail. Hue has been an integral part of both fronts, touting legwear as a true fashion accessory.

Hue paired its tights on 34 runways during New York's fall 2008 fashion week, including those of Rachel Roy, Monique Lhuillier, Charlotte Ronson and Luca Luca. Last year, Hue launched its Guest Designer Program by affording fledgling brands an opportunity to create a capsule legwear collection. Hue premiered the concept with designer Tracy Reese and for this fall partnered with contemporary label Tibi."Sometimes we measure the importance of legwear by how many designers call us to supply their runway shows," Townsend said. "It's a way to say, 'Legwear is back and it's important.' It has also been exciting to see tights return as fashion accessories. They provide so much opportunity for fashion. They're a wonderful vehicle to tell a fashion story, and because of our long-standing relationship with so many designers, it felt natural to do a more closely knit collaboration instead of providing things we make.

"We also have a significant position in legwear departments across America," she said. "So it's a great way for designers to interpret what the category means to them without the commitment on their part of an entire legwear program and a commitment for retailers, as well."

In February when the line was launched, Tibi designer Amy Smilovic told WWD, "I think our use of novelty and detailed prints made us an interesting company for Hue to work with. And once we met with them, it was this perfect marriage of ideas. As a company, we are identifying areas where people want to see the Tibi name and tights have always been up there. The category is having such a moment right now and for us it's been frustrating scouring the Internet looking for tights for shows. So when Hue fell out of the sky, it was perfect."

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