Lingerie Manufacturers Reveal Trends Driving Demand for Hosiery

Genie Davis

Hosiery is alluring no matter how it’s worn — in public or the bedroom. From special occasion hosiery to pop culture trends, this story has legs.

Zach Goode, national sales manager for Electric Eel’s Hustler Lingerie, says the allure of hosiery is its versatility and feel. “Hosiery should be made from soft, sheer material that showcases the curves of your body. A lot of Hustler lingerie styles like fishnet dresses can be worn over lingerie or with nothing underneath. Styles like our leopard jacquard pantyhose and shredded leggings are perfect for completing an outfit for the office or nightclub.” In short, hosiery works in a variety of locations. Electric Eel offers costume and themed hosiery styles that accompany classic bedtime costumes such as sexy schoolgirl, policewoman, nurse, and maid costumes, as well.

Hosiery has really become an additional accessory item to express personal style, just like a scarf or headband. -David B. Music Legs

“There is a lot of competition in the costume market, but at the end of the day, women still want a nice quality garment that fits them correctly for a good price, that hasn’t changed,” Goode said.

For David B., a sales exec at Music Legs, hosiery’s appeal is that it’s become an “expressive accessory. Hosiery is something that can be used, just like a purse or shoes, to express style, to create appeal.”

“We have everything from classic black, nude and white hose to neon colors and very unique patterns and designs,” David B. said. “We’re not afraid to step outside the box of what’s traditional. We get a lot of requests from our accounts and our customers, and we cater to those.” Particularly popular for Music Legs are “animal image prints. For example, over the knee perhaps there’s a puppy that appears to be reaching out. It’s a very playful appearance.”

Electric Eel has a broad range of styles, Goode notes. “We offer basics like fishnet pantyhose and thigh highs, as well as styles with more sex appeal, like crotchless body stockings. We’ve recently added more dresses and dance wear to our collection.”

Goode says pop culture’s influence on fashion trends in hosiery have not particularly affected his selection. “A lot of companies spend time trying to catch up with whatever style or costume is currently trending, but we try to stick to classic styles that will never go out of style. Hosiery shoppers are looking for good quality items that fit.”

To best display hosiery in a retail store, Goode says having “less clutter and a simple lay out” is key.

Music Legs’ David B. suggests the best way to display hosiery starts with the packaging. “The customer needs to be able to see the actual product. That definitely provides an extra impulse to add hosiery to any outfit or costume. We have the image of the stocking itself on the front, and we do band packaging that provides a clear, exposed view on the back side of the package, so the product itself can be completely seen.”

Kyle Tutino, buyer for wholesale distributor Honey’s Place Inc. in San Fernando, Calif., says hosiery has recently gained increased allure as an essential part of public attire. “I think people are wearing it out in public more. Trendy pop stars like Rihanna or Lady Gaga are wearing body stockings and putting pasties under them, creating a very fashion-forward trend at clubs, which definitely increases the appeal for wearing hosiery styles like these outside the bedroom.” Honey’s Place offers special occasion and costume hosiery that’s also doing well. “Really anything that’s fun and different always sells for us. We have novelty stockings with cut outs and hosiery with color blocking that simulates the look of a garter without having to wear one. Those are popular.”

At Music Legs, David. B. says he’s seen a significant transition to wearing stockings more frequently in public. “Hosiery has really become an additional accessory item to express personal style, just like a scarf or headband.”

Tim Gettler, owner of Glamory Hosiery, offers customers unique hosiery up to size 32. For Gettler, hosiery’s appeal has long been intended for the bedroom in the U.S. “But I see it switching, trending to more everyday wear.” His special occasion and themed hosiery includes a mesh fishnet thigh high and pantyhose, as well as a variety of new pattern shapes. “We have a micro mesh, and a diamond pattern; we also have thigh highs and stockings with colored lace topped bands, like black hosiery with a red lace or red and black patterned band.” As a category, Gettler sees increased demand for stockings of all kinds. “For younger purchasers in particular, there’s a strong demand and options for something sassy and expressive, fun and flirty.”

At Dreamgirl International, marketing director Lar Hovsepian, says costume hosiery has been revamped to have more thematic styles. “In the past, our basic black sheer thigh highs have always done best. But now we offer other options, such as including stocking bow clips with our costumes. They can be used to provide a whole new look for stockings, a versatile trim that can be simply clipped to the stocking to make it look entirely different.”

At Glamory, Gettler’s most popular style is the thigh-high. “They’re the most versatile stocking, because you can wear them with or without a garter belt. In terms of patterns, we have seven new pattern styles that will be available at the end of August. We’ll be showing them at ILS, and our customers can order them and have them delivered.” Beyond style options, Gettler believes shoppers are looking primarily for a combination of quality and fit in their hosiery purchases. “We start at a dress-size 10 and go up to size 32. We’re a luxury brand that allows a good fit for people who have a more voluptuous size. We don’t restrict or cause a muffin top effect, so for our customers, I would say size and fit are really what customers are looking for.”

As far as retail displays goes, Gettler finds a leg form the most helpful. “We encourage retailers to use leg forms because customers can see the opacity of the stocking, and how light or dark it is up against a leg.”

At Baci Lingerie, Sales Director Helle Panzieri, believes hosiery is intended both for the bedroom and to be worn in public.

“A pair of sexy stockings under work clothes gives customers a boost of confidence and presence during the day, and the spark for a great intimate encounter,” she attests. Panzieri has seen special occasion and costume hosiery evolve into a varied line that “works great paired with our Dreams costumes or on their own. We see customers wearing our Dreams Hosiery for a fun evening out just as much as with the matching costume. They’re also drawn to our After Dark dedicated collection of award-winning hosiery.”

Panzieri sees pop culture as definitively influencing the hosiery marketplace, “It’s amazing how one popular celebrity sporting a pair of seamed stockings can create a rush for that look.” But in terms of what hosiery shoppers seek, in general terms, it’s all about quality. “Our styles feature an above-average denier count and four-way stretch — two key markers of well-made hosiery.” To best display Baci’s After Dark collection, for Panzieri it’s all about packaging. “Our envelope-style packages are sleek and clean, and they feature fabric detail and close-up photography. They really look great when displayed as a full planogram, and we encourage our retailers to display the line that way.”