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NEW YORK — The majority of legwear customers these days are buying fishnets and basic opaque styles, and vendors are happy to supply them. But someone needs to cater to the out-there whims of fashion editors and stylists if legwear is really to be kept in the lexicon of high fashion.

StockinGirl, a six-year-old firm, did just under $1 million in sales last year, but its list of fashion credits could easily compete with the larger, more recognizable brands. Most recently, the company provided hosiery and socks for designers such as Heatherette, Baby Phat and Moschino during their fall fashion shows.

Co-founder Edward Miccinati credits his success among the fashion crowd to Patti Wilson, a stylist who works with celebrities such as Alicia Keys. The singer’s assistant was looking for legwear for a shoot, he said, and came across the company’s Web site, stockingirl.com. Since then, Wilson has been a supporter of the brand and StockinGirl product has shown up in fashion spreads in magazines such as Vogue Italia, i-D and Interview.

“Patti has believed very strongly in legwear for a long time,” Miccinati said. “She has really been our mentor, and because of her, others have discovered us.”

“I use them all the time,” Wilson said in a phone interview from Milan, where she was viewing the fall runway collections. “They always have new ideas and the most forward things. And there’s nobody else who can produce as quickly.”

Miccinati’s operation, however wide-reaching, is small. There are eight workers at its Chinatown office here and five national sales representatives across the country. The company manufactures private label legwear as well as its own branded line, which includes outrageous pink camouflage tights and multicolored floral thigh-highs. Miccinati also sells the StockinGirl hosiery used on designers’ runways through a co-marketing agreement with those brands. Marshall Field’s and Rampage are among its wholesale clients, but approximately 50 percent of revenue is generated through its Web site, which also sells lingerie.

StockinGirl hosiery and socks are produced in German and Italian factories; retail prices range from $8 to $50. Miccinati contends his line is competitive with brands such as Wolford — another legwear line that worked with designers such as Zac Posen, Anna Sui and Alice Roi during fashion week. But in comparison, Wolford’s revenue last year exceeded $100 million and has more than 200 stores worldwide.

This story first appeared in the February 28, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Within the next few months, Miccinati hopes to open a retail store in SoHo here. He also is “aggressively” searching for other brands to license in the legwear category. “We’re growing really fast,” he said. “This year, we’re projected to do close to $3 million in sales, and we should grow 50 percent more each year….We think we’re going to be an important designer-price-point hosiery company in the next couple of years.”

Miccinati acknowledged that his bold and colorful designs may not appeal to mainstream customers, who are still fairly committed to basic fishnets and solid opaque tights. “Like every business, there are niches where people experiment and don’t run with the crowd,” he said. “That’s the customer we serve.”

For fall, Miccinati hopes to give the fashion-forward customer a reason to want to buy legwear with new antique lace looks, men’s wear-inspired prints and ribbed sweater knits in fibers such as angora, mohair and wool. He also hopes to keep the interest of industry insiders.

“We serve stylists, yes,” Miccinati said. “And does it increase our business? Absolutely.”

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