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Stocking style is back

China Daily Asia | Updated: 2017-02-22 14:12

Stocking style is back

Prada collection with patterned tights [Photo provided to China Daily]

When the spring/summer 2017 runways said "yes" to pantyhose with open-toed shoes, it was viewed as yet another example of an old-turned-new trend – hosiery is certainly no longer atop most women's wish lists when it comes to fashion. But for much of the 20th century, it was an essential staple of a polished woman's daily wardrobe.

Pantyhose's famous predecessors were stockings, which reached up to the thigh and generally needed to be supported by a garter; these tights first became popular among men before women started to wear them in the 18th century. As a new style emerged in tandem with the change in women's social status in the 1920s, shorter skirts came into fashion, paired with stockinged legs – a trendy look of the day was a woman rolling her stockings down just below the knee and dusting rouge on the kneecaps. The enduring "fishnets" were introduced in the '30s; brands such as France's Gerbe, the UK's Charnos and Italy's Levante prospered during that period and continue to be at the forefront of hosiery style today.

In 1938, the invention of nylon in the United States revolutionised the industry. Initially used for toothbrushes, after nylon was introduced as a fabric at the 1939 New York World's Fair, nylon stockings became widely popular. Women swarmed stores to purchase the hosiery and four million pairs were sold in the first few days of their release. However, the Second World War meant that nylon was soon in short supply, as the fabric was sent to the battlefield in the form of tents and parachutes.

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