SOCK IT TO THEM: For the first time, Zephyrs is offering knee-highs, anklets, foot liners and sheers in bold colors and bright prints. Founded in Australia in 1983, the company relocated to New York in 1996 and has built a following for its printed tights.
Deborah MacKinnon, president of Zephyrs, said she decided to branch out to fulfill her own needs.
“I was looking for something I would wear. Opaques are for more of a younger customer,” she said. “I felt like the market had become too niche-oriented and too junior-focused. That was good, but we were neglecting a large part of the market.”
There are 15 styles of knee-highs in shiny nylon and Lycra spandex, Lurex metallic and Lycra blend and sheer knee-highs. Classic plaids in neutrals, houndstooth, animal-skin prints and solids in plum, teal, beige, red and purple are among the offerings, Wholesale prices range from $3 to $4.
“They’re designed to be worn with short skirts or dresses as opposed to being hidden under a pair of pants. It’s a chic schoolgirl look,” MacKinnon said. “Older consumers can also wear them to pick up on the print and color trend.”
With a wholesale price of $8.50, printed sheers are offered in six styles such as plaids and a leopard print.
“I wanted to imitate some of the looks we’ve seen on the runways,” MacKinnon said.
Like the printed knee-highs, the sheers are packaged in a silver transparent electrostatic bag that resembles what computer products are packaged in, she said.
Zephyrs’ rayon-blend $4 anklets are available in 14 types of bold prints. Hawaiian florals and bohemian designs are among the best-selling styles, MacKinnon said.
The new legwear will be offered at department stores and junior specialty store chains. More than 48,000 pairs are expected to be sold this year, she said.
The company has also introduced printed foot liners in natural tones and in python, leopard and other animal prints.
MacKinnon said she planned to extend that group to include more prints and colors due to strong interest in the market.

ROCKPORT’S NEW LINE: Williams Management plans to ship its new licensed Rockport legwear to stores in August, according to Bill Bell, president and chief executive officer of Williams Management.
Tights, leggings and trouser socks are offered in a 24-style collection that retails between $6 and $10. Performance, casual and dress are the collection’s three major categories. Performance-oriented socks are made of Coolmax, Tactel and Lycra spandex, and dress styles consist of two-ply Pima cotton and cashmere blends.
The Rockport line is being shown at the Surratt Marketing Group’s showroom in New York at 350 Fifth Avenue. Bell is also a principal in Surratt Marketing Group, a company that specializes in private label legwear.
Williams Management, which also has the license for Rockport’s men’s socks, expects to set up a Rockport showroom by Aug.t 1, Bell said.
This fall, Rockport legwear will be sold at 15 to 20 department stores and 500 to 750 specialty stores. First-year projected wholesale volume is $2.5 million, Bell said.