BARE SHOWED UP AGAIN, BUT VENDORS HAVE FAITH

Byline: Marc Karimzadeh

NEW YORK — After endorsing hosiery in all stylistic variations for fall, many of the New York spring collections last week returned to the bare-leg look hosiery vendors fear the most.
While the spring market is traditionally known as a slower period for hosiery in general, industry executives downplayed any impact the lack of hosiery on the runway may have in the long run. Overall, vendors said fall’s return will have reeducated women about wearing hosiery, and many are confident the revival will have staying power.
“On the runway, [designers] want to draw attention to the garment,” said Regina Littles, national sales manager at French hosiery firm Gerbe.
Littles noted that in summer, there are “certain situations you don’t want to wear hosiery,” however she expects lighter sheers, stockings and thigh highs to continue through spring.
“Spring is always tough for hosiery and socks to be viewed on the runway,” said Gary Wolkowitz, president at the Hot Sox Co.
Wolkowitz noted that for Hot Sox, the spring and summer programs tend to be mostly driven by sport and active classifications. These, he said, are more difficult to convey when “the shows have been about chic and classicism.”
“I take no offense by [designers] not having casual and sporty socks,” he said, adding that for fall and winter, he is hoping for a continuation of layering and luxe looks.
In fact, while hosiery was mostly absent, vendors pointed to a lot of potential for it in the collections. As reported, abbreviated hemlines were a theme with many designer collections, including DKNY, Ellen Tracy, Oscar de la Renta and Daryl K. Industry executives said since designers have not returned to grunge or minimalism but continued to play with more ladylike looks, hosiery’s current momentum should be maintained.
“There were a lot of beautiful garments that definitely lend themselves to a beautiful hose,” said Regina Littles.
“I did notice the tendency toward a dressier, more feminine elegant look,” noted Ernst Lange, resident of L’s Wear N.Y., the company that distributes Kunert in the U.S.
Lange explained that shorter skirts and open backs will aid the category, since feminine fashions go hand-in-hand with hosiery.
“There is still a lot of leg, but it was all very simple and nude looking,” Lange noted. “And to see the leg in general is far more important for us.”
The category has been stimulated this fall by the interest in the fishnet and many vendors noted the style will bring back awareness to dressing the leg again. According to Lange, this will eventually help basic sheers in the long run, with longevity being something for which the category should be striving.
“It’s nice if something is a trend, but it will not bring back the general impression of hosiery as a piece of clothing,” he said.
“I think what we see in the fall magazines will have more influence on what will go on in the purchases for [early] spring,” said Pat McNellis, president of women’s brands at Royce Hosiery.
McNellis said she is pleased with early sell-through figures for fall and she expects color on the leg to continue being a trend for the beginning of spring. She said the later spring delivery is traditionally slower and vendors and retailers alike adapt to that and expect it in their plan.
McNellis pointed to the current trends in the innerwear category, which will contribute to the sale of hosiery.
“I wouldn’t really expect designers to repeat themselves,” she added. “I don’t think it means in the long run, legwear will decline. I think we’re on an upswing.”

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