HOSE HOLD UP: The new Spanx footless pantyhose has “got your butt covered.”
That’s the mission statement accompanying the novelty item designed by Sara Blakely, Spanx’s founder and president.
“The name is edgy and fun and it makes people smile,” Blakely said, with Spanx supposedly playing on the word spandex.
Blakely’s background is unusual for a hosiery startup. Until recently, she worked as a motivational speaker and a stand-up comedian. The idea for Spanx was a result of her growing frustration with not finding hosiery for those wanting an upper-body support without sacrificing fashions from slim-cut stretch pants to open-toed shoes or sandals.
“I loved clothes and I was cutting the feet off my pantyhose,” she said.
Blakely was looking for a practical product that made sense from a fashion and a woman’s point of view.
“There is a huge gap between G-strings and the girdle-type body slimmer,” she noted, adding they are either “too thick, or they stop on the thigh, which creates a line or a bulge that can be seen through clothing.”
In part, she explained, many industry executives are male and often don’t take into consideration the little details, since they don’t have to wear hosiery. With a suitcase full of ideas, Blakely went on a cold-calling trip to Charlotte, N.C., where she eventually partnered with Highland Mills to realize Spanx.
The Spanx footless pantyhose does not feature the usual rubber cord on the waistband. Blakely noted that replacing the rubber with a yarn combination will insure that the cord does not cut into the stomach. She was shocked to find the industry had been adding polyester and thinner cotton to gussets.
Spanx features a 100 percent cotton gusset, which is handsewn. The control top extends further than the usual styles to smoothen out and support trouble spots such as the “saddle-bag” area. Blakely stressed that the leg bands are knitted into the garment so that they are movable and do not cut into the leg.
“Many use lace for the band, which can be uncomfortable and look bulky under clothing,” she said.
Spanx packaging is an eye-catching red and is illustrated with three different women. Each illustration explains the hose.
“I wanted the packaging to be fun and bold,” she said. “Women should have fun when they buy hosiery.”
There is also the whimsical and explanatory Web site, spanxpantyhose.com, which brings the novelty item to life.
The Spanx footless pantyhose is currently available in nude and black and wholesales for $10. The line has been shipped to Neiman Marcus, where a spokeswoman said it is currently available in all 31 doors. Blakely is aiming to distribute the line to higher-end department stores, fashion and specialty stores.