By  on July 18, 2005

MIAMI — Legwear makers predict higher sales for the retail season after a strong showing on the fall catwalks of novelty hosiery and socks — from tights in bright and pale colors to sheers with new shimmer treatments, leggings in textures and ankle and over-the-knee black socks.

"Like any visual that shows women how to wear a trend, the runway has done a lot to create interest," said Tony Taylor, creative director for Look from London, an accessories manufacturer based in Brooklyn.

Taylor projected a 30 percent increase in sales this fall. He said retailers, such as shoe stores, which didn't show much interest before have opened accounts and regulars are trying to fulfill orders earlier.

"They used to want things by back-to-school time, but that's too late this year," he said.

Taylor, who designed hosiery featuring a hand-painted tribal tattoo print and brown sweater weave for Anna Sui's fall show, said color is important. Aside from magenta, cobalt and teal, he is shipping more brown and believes it has a good chance of outselling black.

For texture, Taylor said cableknit and ribbed looks would capture a wide audience.

Jennifer Puckett, sales and marketing director for Wolford-America, based in New York, sees a return to the high numbers the brand recorded in 2003. Sales are already ahead of last year and should tally a 35 percent increase, she said.

Wolford supplied tights for the fall Zac Posen runway show, which Posen embellished with Swarovski crystals in ornate patterns. Wolford also designed raspberry sheers for Tracy Reese and ribbed cotton tights in pepper, black and ecru for Alice Roi.

The Wolford customer responds to runway fashion, Puckett said.

"All those fall suits just cried for legwear, and you can't do the luxurious Russian trend with bare legs," she added.

Top-selling items for Wolford this season include crochet in vertical stripes, multicolored graphic prints and brown or gray opaques from the Velvet Deluxe collection.

"No color beats black yet, but women are buying the brights we usually just put in the window," she said.

American Essentials, a New York-based legwear company that makes Calvin Klein legwear, is also delivering its premier shipment of hosiery and socks for Michael Michael Kors this fall to department stores including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Macy's East and Marshall Field's.

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