Bright spot

From Biba to Courrèges and Cardin, swinging Sixties fashions are back in full force this fall. This means Lucite heels and miniskirts, and designers like Marc Jacobs accessorized their runway looks with colorful tights, from bright oranges to purple and turquoise.

Even Britney Spears, never one to shy away from fashion extremes, added some pop to her wardrobe last week by accessorizing a micromini with Roy Lichtenstein-inspired leggings at an MTV party.

The legwear category, long struggling with women shunning tights in favor of open-toe shoes and bare looks, has been waiting for such endorsement. Makers will be watching to see whether pop tights will make it from runway to reality.

“It started with the runway shows, then the fashion editors picked it up, and for fall, it’s about the short skirt or HotPants, the boot and the legging,” said Maria Basquil, national sales manager at Wolford America. “The more conservative stores are a little worried about the color on the leg, but the fashion stores are going after it aggressively.”

Basquil added that she expects opaque tightsto benefit from fashion trends this fall, and Wolford is projecting a 150 percent increase inopaques sales this season.

For fall, Henri Bendel, which sells select legwear in its Agent Provocateur boutique but doesn’t have a hosiery department, has picked up Fogal of Switzerland’s colored opaques, fishnets and leg warmers.

“We felt that colored opaques were very much of the season, since it was such a strong runway trend,” said Scott Tepper, accessories buyer at Henri Bendel. “Our customers look for that from us. We wanted to offer colored tights to give customers an option for a finished look if they are wearing a miniskirt.”

Donna Waxman, Fogal’s agent in the U.S. and Canada, added: “It’s fashion specific as far as the colors, but the consumer will get a color or two and then go into the basic colors.”

Peek-A-Boot

With miniskirts making a comeback and boots continuing to dominate footwear silhouettes for fall, Hue’s new Boot-tique collection, which ships to stores next month, could well become a legwear must-have in the second half.The division of Kayser-Roth is launching Boot-tique as part of its philosophy to offer consumers solutions to footwear trends. In the past, the company offered such items as the foot tube to be worn with summer slides or sandals.

Traditionally, boot socks are heavy in gauge and usually not too suitable for boots that are snug in fit.

Boot-tique comprises boot-liners, over-the-knee socks, leg warmers and boot cuffs made of tightly woven, 90-denier opaques and therefore lighter in weight.

In typical Hue manner, the collection is full of whimsical elements to lure consumers into legwear departments: the over-the-knee socks, for instance, are available in a flat knit, a three-tone stripe, a polka dot or a two-tone color block with a floral appliqué. This was designed to peek out from under the boot.

The leg warmers, meanwhile, feature plain, ribbed or furry styles, and come in color tones such as black, green, red and brown. Some even double up as wrist cuffs.

“Boot-tique was the next step from our summer options and what you wear with shoes in summer,” said Molly Mott, vice president of sales at Kayser-Roth. “This was about what you wear with boots and miniskirt in the winter. And color, which is an important trend for fall, is a major factor in Boot-tique.”

The collection retails from $5 for a midcalf boot liner to $12 for a striped leg warmer. The line’s over-the-knee socks will retail for $9.

Mott declined to give sales projections, but said the collection will ship to between 1,500 and 1,800 department doors, as well as some select specialty stores.

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