By and  on March 14, 2005

NEW YORK — Legwear was back on the runway for fall and hosiery manufacturers took notice.

In addition to the tights and socks shown by Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui, vendors were inspired by the boho bourgeois and Russian romantic stylings in designer apparel. As a result, paisley prints and smoky metallic yarns were dominant in many collections presented during last week’s legwear market.

From fishnets to solids, bronze, gunmetal and pewter were popular metallic hues. Donna Karan, which is licensed to Sara Lee, combined bronze thread with a charcoal stretch knit in one style. Fogal; Ellen Tracy, a brand at the JBT Group, and the new Michael Michael Kors line licensed by American Essentials showed lots of gold Lurex-laced shine. Lurex was also intertwined in patterns with unexpected fabrics like stretch wool or fuzzy bouclé.

The trend for men’s wear patterns in socks and hosiery has gone one step beyond. Argyles have become fresh again in bright pop colors like pink and melon at Hue, and royal blue tights with grass green contrast at DKNY, a Sara Lee license. The brand also showed pinstripe tights in bold colors. Others, like Givenchy, which is produced by JBT, offered charcoal and dove gray pinstripe thigh-highs contrasted with feminine black lace trim.

Many firms followed the trend toward a luxe gypsy look. Bohemia was everywhere in tights from tonal paisley cutouts in berry and forest green at DKNY to vintage floral prints at Ellen Tracy.

An overwhelming trend among hosiery manufacturers this fall is comfort and technology, such as Hot Sox’s new Comfort Collection.

“We were getting more special requests than ever, from diabetic people who have special sock and shoe needs [due to circulation issues] to maternity socks, even men wanting seamless socks,” said Susan Spindell, national sales manager.

Comfort comes into play as the socks deliver extra cushioning, a seamless toe or a relaxed top. The Comfort Collection will be supported by a print advertising campaign.

Kayser-Roth Corp. recently relaunched and expanded its No Nonsense brand, which is worn by 30 million women, with offerings including fashion socks and shoe solutions, including flip-flop and mule liners. The line, sold in food, drugstore and mass doors, aims to offer quality and comfort to every woman.“People cross-shop,” said Julia Clinard Townsend, executive vice president and general manager of Kayser-Roth. “Women expect quality that they never used to — everywhere.”

The introduction of socks to be worn with sandals, as well as foot cushions to comfort feet in sandals in the line, indicates how the industry is combating annual sluggish second- and third-quarter sales.

Innovation contributed to the comfort trend. Donna Karan introduced its new Body Perfect collection of slimming garments. Made of seamless hosiery, the laser-cut second-skin garment comes in mid-thigh and capri silhouettes, as well as two levels of compression, making for a more comfortable, customized fit.

In its new Outlast line, Gold Toe has used an exclusive fiber that maintains body temperature. Of the trend toward a more technological, and thus more expensive, sock, Gary Moyer, vice president, department store sales, said, “Customers are willing to pay a bit more. As long as you make it new, they’ll buy it.”

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