By  on October 12, 2009

MILAN — Say goodbye to laddering tights.

Invista, the Wichita, Kan.-based company behind Lycra, has come up with a new fiber that prevents laddering in hosiery without compromising on fit and comfort.

Dubbed Lycra Fusion, the new fiber will launch at retail this month with the Marie Claire brand in Spain and via other hosiery producers worldwide from February next year.

“There have been previous attempts by some companies to provide a product that solves the very significant issues [of antiladdering and comfort] for hosiery, but these were always compromised,” said Serge Vigouroux, executive vice president, marketing business, apparel. “With Lycra Fusion fiber, our chemists have invented a patent-pending technology…that gives multiple benefits at the same time: the benefit you would expect from any hosiery made out of Lycra fabric — comfort, stretch, recovery — and that resists laddering much better than whatever is on the market today.”

Likening it to lipstick, Vigouroux said a relatively low-ticket item like hosiery had performed better worldwide than other categories in the recession, as brands and retailers responded to consumer demand for cheap and fashionable ways of accessorizing their looks. Going forward, he underlined that innovation in form and function was “critical” and the new fiber played into that.

“We certainly want to protect and grow our market share in this particularly industry, to demonstrate the leadership that we have had for many, many years and come with a product that will help defend this category in the long term,” he said.

Vigouroux said hosiery made with Lycra Fusion would inevitably be positioned at a higher price point than other hosiery, but anticipated low resistance from consumers based on the product benefits.

“If you are reasonable in how you price the product, I do not see how or why you wouldn’t be successful. Once consumers see that [Lycra Fusion] works, it will become the new standard and what they expect from any pair of pantyhose they are buying,” he said.

Invista, which is a subsidiary of privately owned Koch Industries Inc., completed a refinancing and recapitalization program in February to reduce its debts and improve its capital structure, after being hit hard by the recession. Vigouroux declined to disclose financials, saying only that the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 had been “particularly difficult.”

However, he added: “We’ve been going from strength to strength from the spring. We’re doing quite OK at the moment and we’re pretty enthusiastic for next year.”

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