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A SHEER THING?

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Sheers have been hosiery’s stepchild for years. The trend toward bare-legged formal looks and open-toe shoes in the dead of winter haven’t helped, nor has the decline of career dressing. In fact, sheer sales were down 12.6 percent in 2003 from 2002, and hosiery overall dropped 1.6 percent, according to the NPD Group.

Could sheers see a revival of sorts this fall?

The frenzy over colored opaques last fall brought consumers back into legwear departments, which bodes well for the category.

“There’s an interest from consumers, retailers, and manufacturers in all textured hosiery for fall, which causes people to be in the hosiery department, and she’ll probably buy sheer and basic styles while she’s there,” said Nadine Hall, general manager and vice president of Sara Lee hosiery.

That theory proved true for high-end brand Wolford last year, where sheer sales were up double digits, accounting for 20 percent of overall sales, the company said. Considering designers such as Marc Jacobs sent models down the fall runway in modest covered-up looks, giving off just the right ladylike vibe that would call for sheer hose, will other firms be able to claim the same success?

Legwear makers think so, but they agreed that the plain nude or black hose will probably not see as much of a resurgence this year as textured sheers.

That said, colored and patterned sheers will fill legwear departments. Many vendors are looking to mirror trends such as hue or floral prints shown on the runway. Vertical stripes, as well as fabric with shimmer, also will show up as popular trends.

“It has to have something,” said Donna Waxman, U.S. president of Fogal of Switzerland. “The basic sheer pantyhose isn’t going to cut it.” — Emily Holt

BEST IN SHOW

U.S. voters will elect a president and vice president on Tuesday, Nov. 2, but the evening before will be devoted to a different election — for the Accessories Council ACE Awards. The nonprofit accessories advocacy group announced the nominees for its eighth annual awards ceremony, set for Nov. 1 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. Prizes will be given to vendors and retailers that have increased consumer use and awareness of accessories, the council said. The nominees are:

Accessory Designer/Collection of the Year:

  • Gordon Thompson III for Cole Haan
  • Michael Kors
  • Tom Ford for Gucci
  • Isaac Mizrahi for Target
  • Salvatore Ferragamo

Accessory Rising Star Award, given to a distinctive designer within the fashion accessories community:

  • Mary Norton for Moo Roo
  • Constança Basto
  • Eugenia Kim
  • Alexis Bittar

“It” Accessory of the Year:

  • Ugg Australia Classic Boot
  • Von Dutch Originals trucker hat
  • Delman ballet flat

In addition to the three awards, Hermès will receive the Hall of Fame award, and Bloomingdale’s will be recognized as Retailer of the Year. This will be the first year the Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism will be given, and the Accessories Council will honor Luther with the inaugural award. — E.H.