Anyone who’s ever toyed with the idea of getting leg tattoos but just didn’t want to go under the needle now has a relatively low-risk way to test the look: tattoo-simulating hosiery.
Gaining momentum in Japan, where women have long been on the cutting edge of legwear trends, these nude-colored stockings are emblazoned with a wide range of tattoo artwork — from a discreet design at the ankle to a more dramatic statement like a dagger piercing the skin or an image of the Virgin Mary covering a good portion of the leg.
The novelty appears to have crossed into mainstream fashion. “The trend was at its peak last spring. Now it’s leveled off, but they’re still selling well,” said a spokeswoman for Tutuanna. “Rather than a trend item, they’ve become a regular fashion item that people just want to have in their collections, like everyday tights. So prints like a flower or a message in English, which are easy to wear, are the most popular.”
Tutuanna hosiery sells for about 840 to 1,470 yen, or about $9.50 to $16.50.
The spokeswoman added that for spring, Tutuanna is adding neon colors to its traditional black printed tattoo designs.
The tattoo trend has also helped Tokone, a nascent legwear label, make its mark in local and international markets. Before starting her own brand, Hatsuki Sugai worked for a legwear company that made socks and tights for brands like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Anrealage.
She launched Tokone’s e-commerce site in November. In just under two months, her site has grown to attract 30,000 views a day, half of them from outside Japan.
Each of Tokone’s designs is the result of a collaborative effort between Sugai and an artist.
“Tights are very popular now, and there are many different styles available. But if the style of a particular artist doesn’t suit you, none [of her designs] will,” Sugai said. “So I wanted to broaden the potential of tights [with many artist options].”
Tokone’s most popular items are tattoo designs by Makiko Sugawa and tattoo artist Inkrat Tattoo, which go for 4,800 yen, or about $54, each.