Calze Ileana: Home Grown

The Italian hosiery-maker is banking on innovative yarns, luxurious blends and its private labels to stay competitive.

Italian hosiery-maker Calze Ileana SpA is banking on innovative yarns, luxurious blends and its private labels to stay competitive.

This story first appeared in the January 28, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The firm, a family operation founded in 1982 and based in Castel Goffredo, near Mantua, began making hosiery for designer brands but for the past two seasons has promoted its own lines, which now account for 5 percent of total production.

In the U.S., New York-based Anew Legwear — distributor of Lemon and Via Spiga brands — also distributes Calze Ileana, with tights and leggings selling from $12 to $50. Specializing in upscale fashion hosiery for women and men, the company is using new types of yarn for its fall collections. Here are four of its latest developments:

• Black Diamond, developed by fiber specialist Nilit, is suitable for allergy-prone sensitive skin as it has a shine similar to Lurex but contains no metal. The process involves covering a nylon yarn with a shinier flat one. “These garments get a glittering quality that is not as harsh as metallic fibers. It’s more sophisticated,” said Michal Ron Gavish, global marketing director at Nilit, adding that the textured yarn is also quite soft.

• Innergy, a microfiber that converts the naturally occurring thermal energy of the human body into far-infrared rays, believed to reduce the appearance of cellulite. A mineral added to the polymer in the early stages of yarn development functions as a mirror, reflecting the body’s heat, thus improving blood circulation and the skin’s appearance.

• Luxurious all-silk stockings, thigh-highs and men’s dress socks — an unusual move today, owing to the popularity of various blends.

• Stockings made with baby alpaca cashmere blended with silk and merino wool. When the yarn is printed with different colors, the resulting hosiery varies in pattern.