The History Of Hosiery

It is fair to say that tights are a relatively recent phenomenon, but hosiery itself has been around for centuries. The word hosiery was actually derived from the Anglo-Saxon word hosen which means covering. There is evidence to suggest that as far back as the 9th century, people were covering their legs with bandages of material, held in place with strands of gut. These were the earliest signs of usage of what we would now call hosiery.

History shows that during the 15th century the idea of hosiery was developed into crudely constructed woven stockings joined together with a cod-piece and sometimes soled on the feet with leather. Hosiery was then developed even further in the 16th century when hand-knitted stockings came over from Spain to England.

It is worth mentioning that during this time, it was mostly the men who wore stockings. This seems alien to us nowadays as hosiery is a market that is predominantly aimed at females. However, by the 18th century, women started wearing stockings too. The color of the stockings was though to denote class, with the upper classes wearing mainly white or colored stockings whilst the lower classes would wear black. However, by the 1800s, men were already moving away from stockings and breeches towards trousers and the industrial production of stockings from around 1860 made them more available.

The idea of tights didn’t really develop until the introduction of synthetic yarns in the 1920’s. This single-handedly revolutionized the industry and meant that hosiery could be produced that was sheerer than cotton and cheaper than silk. Later on in the 1930’s, fish-nets were introduced and were an instant hit. The first pair of nylon stockings was manufactured by Dupont in 1938 and by 1949, seamed nylons were all the rage in the UK and the production of hosiery had really kicked off all over the world.

Tights really became popular in the 1950s and were introduced by Aristoc, the longest established brand in the UK. Initially, these tights were formed by sewing nylon legs onto a pair of crepe nylon briefs. The fashion trend of the mini-skirts made tights even more popular in the sixties as more and more designers picked up on the trend of wearing tights underneath short skirts.

It was with popular hosiery brand Pretty Polly in 1968 that one-piece tights became more of a fashion item than ever before. In the early eighties, patterned tights hit the market and Lycra started being incorporated into hosiery in 1985. Nowadays, the Lycra 3D process, where Lycra is knitted into every stitch, not just every third means that hosiery is super smooth and fits perfectly every time.

Hosiery has been around for centuries and the concept of it has changed and evolved over the years. Nowadays, not many women would be able to live without their tights or leggings and the hosiery industry is better than ever. Many hosiery companies are constantly bringing out new products in different styles, colors and designs.

Whether you are looking for natural coverage, tights to suck you in or thick opaques to keep your legs warm during the winter months then can help. They have a full range of hosiery on offer so why not check out their website today!

Back to blog
1 of 5