By  on May 11, 1994

NEW YORK -- After 2 1/2 years of faded glory, footless leggings are making a comeback, say bodywear manufacturers.

Following a strong fall bodywear market in March, particularly with footless leggings, vendors say they expect a greater demand at this month's holiday market for basic and fashion leggings. Some firms are projecting increases in fall and holiday bookings of approximately 30 percent in footless leggings over a year ago.

For fall selling, manufacturers have been offering a lot of fashion treatments such as stitch seaming, cuffed and zipper detailing at the ankle, lots of textured matte-and-shine looks, and lingerie effects like nylon bands. There's also a host of ready-to-wear colors such as solid hunter, wine, brown and navy, and lots of heathered grays and natural tones.

Manufacturers generally note that the renewed interest in footless leggings began taking shape in late 1993. The product -- after some explosive business -- began slowing down for bodywear firms back in 1991, when the market became saturated with the look, say bodywear makers. During that period, junior sportswear makers were cranking out five-denier cotton and Lycra leggings that generally cost 33 1/3 to 50 percent less than leggings made by bodywear firms, say bodywear makers.

Bodywear firms typically manufacture leggings of 10-denier cotton and Lycra or nylon and Lycra.

Footless leggings by bodywear firms generally wholesale between $12 and $24.

Glen Greenbaum, vice president of sales for sporting goods and specialty stores at Danskin Inc., stated: "First and foremost, we've been getting reorders over the past six weeks on every style of footless ankle pants we do at Danskin. I was really surprised -- we are almost 30 percent ahead in fall bookings over a year ago."

Greenbaum said an expanded number of styles of footless leggings will be shown in every bodywear group at this month's holiday market.

"I thought bike pants would be the strong gun for fall, but ankle pants are way ahead. I think it's because women are not willing to give up stretch and comfort. I also think that maybe Seventh Avenue wasn't doing well with it because it was being done by the junior market. Those consumers maybe buy one pair of ankle pants; it's not an issue of stretch or comfort."

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