NEW YORK -- When Katie Couric accessorized her suit with a pair of black lace tights on NBC's "Today" show last Thursday, she confirmed to legwear vendors what they had been preaching all along: Fashion tights...
NEW YORK -- When Katie Couric accessorized her suit with a pair of black lace tights on NBC's "Today" show last Thursday, she confirmed to legwear vendors what they had been preaching all along: Fashion tights are a hot trend and a timely way to update a wardrobe.
Bearing that in mind, many executives were hopeful that the category's downturn has finally bottomed out, and some even claimed that this was one of the strongest markets since sheers were still common business attire in the late Eighties.
That said, many stressed that the real work to rebuild some of the damage of the past few years now starts, which will likely include:
A continued focus on marketing to further strengthen consumer awareness of legwear as an accessory.
Efficient inventory management to make sure popular styles can be shipped to stores quickly.
An emphasis on helping retailers merchandise their hosiery departments.
"The stores are still keeping inventory very low and they are missing opportunities," said Karen Schneider, president of Wolford USA. "If you have an 80 percent sell-through, the customer is responding, but the reordering is too slow. Stores missed much business this past fall."
Wolford's fall collection is celebrating America with each style named after a U.S. city, state or icon such as Alaska, Montana or Christopher Columbus. Top-booking styles included Wall Street, fine pinstripe tights; Central Park, graphic tights with different layers of Op Art stripes and Rodeo Drive, tights with a thigh-high floral pattern.
"In fall 2001, pattern was such a strong sell-through that most retailers said they could have had more business if they had had more inventory," said Pat McNellis, president of women's brands at Royce Hosiery Mills, which makes the licensed Nine West and Dockers hosiery lines.
Royce introduced its new licensed line for Nine & Co., which consists of fashion socks retailing for $5 to $7.
"Fashion continues to be a key direction for fall," said Regina Littles, national sales manager at Gerbe, which offered a variety of styles, such as polkadots, vertical textured stripes and leaf motifs for fall. The company also introduced 15-denier invisible sheer tights at $11.10 wholesale."Women are dressing more, and the ads have such a different tone about them," said Carol Hochman, president and chief executive officer of Danskin, the maker of Pennaco hosiery.
Hochman noted that even junior contemporary companies are portraying a dressier look in their spring ads.
Meanwhile, many vendors said a continuing challenge is the downsizing of legwear departments at many chains.
John Flynn, vice president of sales at Levante USA, said: "Many major stores decreased their legwear departments by 15 percent. It will get down to who will get the message across with the most innovative type of products."
Flynn noted that "wellness" is a popular theme, with top styles including a knee-high with a textured sole that massages the foot, and a sock with a graduated compression feature to improve circulation.
Julia Townsend, vice president and general manager of the department and specialty division at Kayser-Roth Corp., the owners of Hue legwear, said retailers are looking for ideas that can be incremental to grow their business, such as luxury, knee socks, novelty socks and slipper socks.
Townsend said Hue's slipper-sock assortment accounted for 12 percent of Hue's business, and the company hopes to double this in fall.
Also new to the market was Italian designer Emilio Cavallini. Based in Florence, the firm is looking to build its U.S. presence. The line consists of 17 styles, including legwarmers and black crocheted tights, at $7 wholesale.
United Legwear, which produces a number of junior lines, was focusing on back-to-school styles. The firm introduced socks under the Puma brand, including roller-skating socks that go up to the knee, as well as low-riders cut below the ankle, done in a variety of colors. Maggie Hoban, a sales executive, said top performers at market were reverse knits with fringe and fake fur socks, as well as styles with pom-poms.
The Hot Sox Co., meanwhile, introduced a group of colorful computer-print images called Robotics.
"With everybody still stuck to grays and dark colors, this is a kick and allows our customers to have fun with legwear," said Gary Wolkowitz, president of Hot Sox.Fall's Best Leg Looks
Luxury yarns and metallic touches.
Knee-highs and slipper socks.
Subtle textures, dots with lace and three-tone stripes.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)