By  on January 6, 1994

NEW YORK -- The new, sophisticated take on skin-toned sheers that imitate the look of a bare leg will be one of summer's hot tickets in hosiery departments, forecast retailers.

Anklets, knee-highs and thigh-highs are other key looks retailers see as complementing the ever-rising hemlines of the season. Textures and laces also continue to be popular interpretations of a variety of silhouettes.

While a good share of spring and early summer programs is already laid out, retailers say they will be keeping an eye out at next week's market for new items that can further freshen the season's inventories.

"Hosiery in natural tones is going to be important for spring and summer," said Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus. "I don't think women will go to the office bare-legged when they can get the same effect with flesh tones. I'd like to see a little bit of shimmer with the skin-toned palette to give it some sophistication."

For the more adventuresome legwear customer, Kaner said, she'll be offering a variety of ideas in silhouettes and textures.

"There seem to be a lot of options," said Kaner. "Bill Blass showed white opaques with his spring fashions, and several designers were showing novelty looks, such as mesh and lace for evening as well as thigh-highs. Looks such as knee-highs and anklets become important, especially for the younger, more 'with it' customer."

Legwear business in general, said Kaner, has been "good, and we hope it will continue." The store will be using direct mailings and catalogs to keep up customer awareness of the department.

At Macy's East, fashion director Benny Lin said he feels there is a lot of hosiery interest among designers.

"The schoolgirl look is very big this season, especially with white knee-highs and anklets, as well as black sheer thigh-highs and anklets," he said. "These styles offer a very new look. For the consumer, these looks are easy to understand and the pricing is not prohibitive."

Silver hosiery, Lin said, is another hot trend, especially worn with white clothing, and in April he plans to bring in a palette of bright, "candy-colored" tights. White hosiery will also be important with the season's neon-toned clothing, he predicts, and lace is another key trend.

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