VIA SPIGA’S LEG PLANS: Footwear firm Via Spiga, through its parent company Intershoe Inc., has teamed up with Leg Resource for a licensed line of women’s, men’s and children’s socks and hosiery.

The Via Spiga Legwear Collection will officially launch during this week’s market with a spring line of fashion, sport and trouser socks and sheers.

There are 17 novelty sock styles featuring stripes, dots, florals, nautical or shorty looks. The 15 novelty trouser-sock styles include lace, floral, mesh and men’s wear-inspired looks. Ten luxury basics styles are made with pima cotton, spun rayon and silk blends. The socks wholesale for $3.

The company is also offering sheer pantyhose with body-shaping features. The hosiery wholesales from $5 to $8.

"Since footwear and legwear are so interconnected, we feel it only natural to extend our brand image into legwear," said Intershoe group president William Baum.

Wayne Lederman, Leg Resource’s president, added that the line targets better department and specialty stores, including footwear boutiques. First year sales projections are approximately $1 million.

LA PERLA PLANS: La Perla is putting a renewed focus into its hosiery business. The Italian innerwear company has started a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening its market share in the high-end legwear sector.

The company has inked an exclusive deal with Italian textile company Nylstar. Starting this season, La Perla hosiery will be made from Nylstar’s patented microfiber, Meryl.

It’s not just new fibers, however. La Perla has also created sexier packaging and re-evaluated its distribution strategy. "We feel [hosiery] has become more than just an accessory," a La Perla spokeswoman said. "It’s really a compliment to an individual style and we want to express this with our packaging and our collection."

To that end, La Perla’s fall hosiery line is rife with sexy fishnets and delicate lace details. It will be sold in 300 doors in Italy and another 700 doors worldwide, including specialty and department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue in the U.S., and Harrods and Selfridges in London, and the new company flagship that opened last month in SoHo (see related story, page 13).The company would not release sales expectations for the hosiery collection, but said total company sales for 2001 reached $229.2 million. All figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

CHA DINNER TALK: "Start thinking ‘we’ not ‘me’, or you will never survive," Ed Whitehead, vice president of marketing at Indianapolis, Ind.-based firm Galyans told more than 125 hosiery executives at the annual fall dinner meeting of the Carolina Hosiery Association and The Hosiery Association on Oct. 15.

He repeatedly emphasized that manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers must work toward the common goal of better understanding their changing customers. Whitehead added: "Be flexible, prepared, ready to work with those retailers savvy enough to view developing their own brand as the best competitive way to succeed.’’

The retail marketing veteran noted that hosiery will be among those categories likely to see an increasing emphasis on private label by major retailers.

While Galyans represents the larger retail stores with more than 100,000-square-foot units, Whitehead said he still believes wholeheartedly in "strategic partnerships as the future direction of retailing."

During the meeting, Ron Brittain, head of family-owned L & R Knitting Inc., Hickory, N.C., received the distinguished service award for 2002.

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