By  on May 14, 2007

NEW YORK — This fall, socks step to the forefront of their category alongside leggings and tights. The reemergence of legwear as a fashion item is allowing designers to branch out and to be more creative. Many manufacturers are expanding their sock collections and are using new materials. John Flynn, vice president of sales at Levante USA, for example, says, "Our popular combed-cotton sock continues to perform well, but this season we're also including luxury fibers like cashmere, Modal and angora."

Shades, however, still tend to be conservative. "Our sock collections focus on our tried-and-true color palette," says Maria Giraldi, director of design and merchandising at JBT Group. Many designers are sticking with the browns, blacks and grays to which buyers are accustomed at the moment, but plan to be more adventurous with future collections. For now, to tie socks in with their fashion-forward hosiery collections, some have added such frills as velvet ribbons or metallic threads. Others have moved toward texture, citing the success of ribs, pointelles and cables that stretch out to reveal intricate patterns. "We amped up our basic sock by incorporating hidden design elements," says Sharon Thorp, vice president of design and marketing for Chinese Laundry Legwear. "They show up when you pull a pair on." For fall, socks can be a key part of putting one's best foot forward.

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