L’eggs is turning 50.
And while the hosiery brand may have reached semi-centennial status, its style isn’t sagging. In fact, the pantyhose are still gracing millions of women’s legs around the world. Cathleen Moxham, lead designer at L’eggs, contends the brand only gets better with age.
“L’eggs came into the market place to bring to women affordable, stylish, quality hosiery that was convenient,” Moxham told WWD. “Fast forward 50 years, in terms of a world that is about the importance of health and wellness, and that has not changed. The DNA has not changed.”
L’eggs, under parent company Hanesbrands, made its debut in September 1969. Aside from the distinctive packaging — an egg-shaped box because “egg” is part of the word “L’eggs” — and the catchy slogan — “Nothing beats a good pair of L’eggs” — the product was also revolutionary in that it was the first time pantyhose could be found at supermarkets and drugstores. Until then, women were limited to department stores to fulfill their hosiery needs, which was often time consuming.
With L’eggs, suddenly women could buy a pair — or two or three — while purchasing groceries or other essential toiletries. Sales rose quickly. Today L’eggs is the second-largest brand within Hanesbrands, behind only Hanes, and the company’s largest hosiery brand. Champion, Playtex, Wonderbra, Bali and Just My Size also fall under the Hanesbrands company umbrella.
L’eggs has been able to keep a leg up on the competition — and changing fashion trends — with new products and innovation. Colored pantyhose, moisturizing stockings, cellulite-reducing pantyhose and hosiery that prevents tired legs are just a few options.
But there were other factors that help pantyhose become a fashion must-have. Like the advent of the miniskirt and women entering the workforce in record numbers during the Eighties and Nineties. Or women who don’t want to bare all during the hot summer months. (Sheer Energy are L’eggs’ most popular style.) Or women who want to keep warm during the colder months.
Either way, there’s no denying that women’s legs are more visible than ever — and so is the demand for hosiery to cover them.
Today, Hanesbrands is the number-one retail company in the U.S. in the hosiery category and number two in the world, only behind Golden Lady SpA, according to Euromonitor International. The category, which includes sheer and non-sheer hosiery, was worth $54.7 billion globally in 2018, and is expected to be more than $57 billion by 2023. L’eggs’ Sheer Energy is also the number-one sheer support hosiery in mass retail.
Still, with corporate dress codes becoming increasingly relaxed, more people working from home and many women opting for slacks or more casual trends — even at work — one would think hosiery is losing its footing in fashion.
But Moxham said it’s just the opposite — the brand’s ability to evolve has left it relevant. L’eggs has achieved this, for one, by going to the customer, either online or in stores. L’eggs are available at big-box retailers like Target and Walmart, along with drug stores, grocery stores, Hanes outlet stores and the company web site.
Most recently, Hanesbrands rolled out Hanes socks and L’eggs hosiery products to Dollar General stores.
Evolving also meant eliminating the hard plastic egg packaging back in the Nineties for more sustainable alternatives and widening the diversity of natural skin tones offered. It also meant incorporating new technology and listening to customers’ preferences — particularly, their desire for comfort and ath-leisure fashions.
“Ath-leisure isn’t going away,” said Moxham, who has been with Hanes for 28 years. “But ath-leisure goes back to comfort. Comfort also is in our DNA. Comfort and fit go hand-in-hand in our products. Especially a product that is as close to the body as ours. That’s essential.”
In honor of its five-decade lifespan, L’eggs is hosting a variety of events this month, including one at New York’s female coworking space the Luminary on Sept. 22. The event will celebrate National Legwear Day, which is also the first day of fall, with influencers and lots of pantyhose.
There will be a number of events at college campuses around the U.S. this fall. Moxham said tapping the next generation is a crucial part of the brand’s growth strategy. About a third of sheer hosiery shoppers are Millennials, according to the NPD Group.
“We’re giving her L’eggs that look and make her feel beautiful and polished,” Moxham said. “In 50 years, if we’re still blessed to be alive, that will still be key for women. That’s not going to go out of style. As much as fashion can come and go, having something that is stylish and that is affordable and convenient in our time-pressed lives, only continues to get more and more important.”