By  on December 19, 1994

NEW YORK -- Socks and tights, which were top performers throughout the fall, continue to hold on to their star status in the holiday season.

While legwear is traditionally seen as a last-minute gift purchase because of its low price points, the category attracted early Christmas shoppers as well, stores said. Sheers, which have been seeing a revival of sorts this fall, are also doing well for some stores but are still on the slow side for others.

A spot check with retailers in all price points revealed the holiday shopping blitz is not governed solely by price or color.

While better-priced collections such as Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani Calze, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren are fueling business at Saks Fifth Avenue and other top specialty stores, unbranded multi-packs for unbranded crew socks are revving up sales at Dollar General as well as at other mass marketers.

Several stores said they should see double-digit percentage gains for casual legwear.

Macy's West is planning for "a very high" double-digit percentage increase for socks and tights, more than making up for still-lagging sheer sales, according to Richard Zappala, buyer for the 50-unit operation. "Every vendor is virtually on fire," he said, as he talked about some brands doubling their Christmas figures of a year ago.

With retail prices for tights ranging from $9 to $15, DKNY, Hue, CK by Calvin Klein and Ellen Tracy are some of the leading vendors, he said. Basic black or cable tights are the hottest items, he said.

"Tights accelerated at the end of October and we've been trying to catch up ever since. We missed a lot of business in November because we couldn't get tights back in stock," Zappala said. "We see a major opportunity in tights for next year."

Over-the-knee socks by Hot Sox at $9, private label trouser socks by Charter Club at $3.75 and angora blend socks by Kenneth Cole at $10 have also generated sales, Zappala said.

Giorgio Armani Calze, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren have triggered rapid sales, he said.

At Henri Bendel, holiday legwear sales are 24 percent ahead of last year, according to Robert Goldfarb, divisional merchandise manager.

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