By  on April 28, 1994

NEW YORK -- The sheer hosiery industry is fighting back against a barrage of media criticism about its product.

Development of an industry campaign for consumer education actually began last June, before the groundswell of complaints about pantyhose became apparent last fall on television, according to the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers, which is sponsoring the program.

However, an important part of the campaign -- an eight-page brochure that is a guide to hosiery -- appeared only this week, and the overall campaign is being expanded to directly meet this criticism.

"Issues have arisen in the past few months that the industry needs to deal with, namely the TV criticism of women's sheers," said Sid Smith, president of the NAHM, based in Charlotte, N.C. According to the NAHM, since November about 15 stations have aired critical investigative segments on hosiery in both major and nonmajor markets. The media blitz, however, apparently was sparked back in January 1993 by an edition of the "Donahue" show, featuring Lydia Justice Edwards, treasurer of the state of Idaho, who argued that sheer pantyhose were deliberately made to tear and run, forcing women to buy more. Since then, Edwards has appeared on numerous programs.

To counter this type of programming, the NAHM plans expanded distribution to TV producers of video footage regarding pantyhose. The clips were initially distributed in February.

They include statements from Ingrid Johnson, chairwoman of the department of textile development and marketing for the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Frances Massey, a professor in the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University. Both speak about the quality and technological advances of sheer hosiery products.

Smith said the industry campaign has funding of $250,000. The new brochure, called "The Sheer Facts About Hosiery: A Consumer Guide to Men's, Women's and Children's Hosiery," was sent to fashion publications this week. The NAHM hopes the information in it will be disseminated to the public via the media.

The brochure answers many of the questions concerning wear life and proper care that arose during the TV programs.

"This is not a reaction to the television media's sheer hosiery coverage," said Smith. "A year ago, the NAHM decided to launch a consumer program on products. With all of the new fibers and constructions that were in the marketplace, it was clear to the industry that we needed to provide more product information to the public. The brochure was in the works well before the media started focusing on legwear."

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