This review is something a little different. A guest reviewer, named Irene, conveyed to me her impressions of Donna Karan’s Ultra Sheer Control Top pantyhose. OK, I know these aren’t tights, much less opaque. But I figured the ladies reading this blog would appreciate this one. So, take it away Irene!
Thanks! There was a time when my legs were perfect, near modeling perfect, and I didn’t cover them with anything. Not tights. Not pantyhose. If it got cold outside I’d simply wear pants, long dresses, or a very nice full length coat! Well the ravages of time bring about minor imperfections in our skin and although my legs still look terrific, or so my male friends say so, a few small permanent blemishes here and there has encouraged me to wear hosiery more often. Especially when out on the town! I do like the feel and appearance of tights, now that they’ve become so much more comfortable compared to years past. But I also like the sheer look and feel of quality pantyhose. I never thought I’d say that. Yet I gave pantyhose one more try last year and realized the game has totally changed. Either hosiery makers finally get it, or as my friend here says the textiles have improved a lot.
I have to tell you that I really don’t like the idea of spending $20 on a package of pantyhose that lasts just a few wearings, if that. Very sheer pantyhose has a very short lifespan, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Wolford or L’Eggs. When you plan for a night out, consider very sheer pantyhose as a temporary accessory. If it lasts the night, bonus. If it doesn’t, oh well it wasn’t meant to anyway. So the only way I’d be buying top quality fragile pantyhose would be on sale.
In the UK, the word “tights” refers to any hosiery covering the lower half of the body, no matter the denier or opacity. The same is true in France and Italy, where they use the word “collants”, and in Germany, where they use the word “strumpfhose”. But in the USA, “tights” commonly refers to opaque hosiery. Once the hosiery denier is lighter and the appearance is much more sheer, they’re called “pantyhose”.
Lillian Bond 1950's
If you saw my post titled “Polish Pattern Parade“, then you’re already aware that Poland has become a hotbed for hosiery production. A number of brands have broken out of the local market and are now more commonly found internationally. One of them is Fiore. Here’s how they describe their company:
Fiore is one of the most dynamically developing hosiery manufacturers in Poland and Central Europe with over 120 different products for ladies and girls offered in a wide range of colours and sizes. Created in 1998, the company from the very beginning believes in the same strategy of combining the high quality of the products with prices that remain affordable to everyone.
The company was also one of the very first Polish hosiery producers to receive the ISO 9001 Quality Management Certificate. ISO 9001 is the most comprehensive of the ISO standards, covering product design, engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, marketing and sales. Commitment to quality has always been the basis for the company’s strategy and success. The receipt of the Certificate not only confirmed this, but also ensured that we continually strive for further improvement of quality and the full satisfaction of our customers’ needs.
In order to fully respond to the customers’ differentiated requirements the whole production has been divided into 6 lines:
- Classic– Elegant and comfortable tights (pantyhose), knee-highs and socks for everyday and evening wear.
- Medica– A variety of tights designed to correct the imperfections of woman’s figure.
- Golden Line– Highly fashionable and sensuous patterned tights, hold-ups and stockings perfect to finish off any stylish ensemble.
- Elite– Top quality hosiery products, made of the best materials in most advanced technologies.
- Street– A range of tights and knee-highs trendily suited for the teenage market.
- Young Lady– A line of cheerful and durable tights designed for girls of 110-146 cm height.
All hosiery companies offer patterned styles, ranging from subtle to loud, conservative to outlandish, and everything in between. With the advancement of modern machinery and super synthetics, the possibilities are nearly endless. And some hosiery companies are embracing this opportunity to take it to the next level.
Poland has really become a hotbed for hosiery manufacturing. From what I’ve learned, there are a number of brands that are not only supplying hosiery within Poland but all across Europe and Asia. The Internet makes it possible to view their websites, browse their products, and visit European on-line retailers to see what they’re offering. The more prominent ones that I’m aware of are Fiore, Gabriella, Gatta, Tespol (Mona), and Bas Bleu. There may be others, but these are the ones I’ve found with a strong web presence and availability worldwide through some retailers.
The Polish hosiery makers seem to be rather bold and artistic in their use of patterns. Having viewed the styles offered by other brands, I have to say that these are quite unique in appearance. To give you an idea, I’ve made a few photo collages of them. Mind you, this is just a subset, because I started running out of time! Click on each image for a larger view.
The process behind the manufacturing of hosiery is a rather complicated one. I once saw a television documentary on it and I found it fascinating. Of course, later on I couldn’t remember all of the details, just the overall concepts. One can find this kind of information on the Internet, if enough time is spent searching around. You can find some informative videos up on You Tube, like this one: “How It’s Made: Pantyhose“.
Italian hosiery company Filodoro decided to post a section on their website that goes into reasonable detail on hosiery making. The process is broken down into five stages:
They also have a Hosiery World section that touches briefly on the history of hosiery, how to put on tights, how to care for your hosiery, figuring out sizing for the various types, etc. Rather nice of them to provide this information, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve not found any other hosiery company that has taken the time to do it, only tips on wear and caring but usually quite brief. Thank you, Filodoro!
I’m going to try doing a “Picture of the Day” posting periodically. It may not be every single day, but I’ll try to do it as often as I can.
I came across this one recently and it’s one of my favorites:
This is borrowed from Gatta, one of the leading Polish hosiery makers. The style is “Liva 01”. Visit their website and take a closer look. You’ll be overwhelmed with the number of styles that Gatta features, and they’re all very tastefully done too. I wouldn’t mind being their spokesperson to help get this brand recognized in the USA. 😉
Anyone acquainted with buying tights and/or pantyhose for themselves or another person will be aware of a few brands. Of course, there are some that are very well known in the media for various countries (by advertising through various channels). How many can you name off the top of your head? For me, it would be Wolford, Falke, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Hanes, Hue, L’eggs and Spanx (before I started this blog, obviously!). If you asked me how many there are worldwide, I’d say perhaps 40 to 50 at most. Later, I discovered to find that my guesstimate was WAY off.
A UK organization endeavored to create a Tights (Pantyhose) Directory, from A to Z. The page for letter “A” has 31 entries. Thirty one! There are over 370 hosiery brands worldwide. It is quite impressive and appears comprehensive with few omissions. You can find it here: UK Tights Directory
Tights For Men
Of those companies, here is the small portion that produces tights specifically for men: Adrian, Aries, Astral Legxperience, Atsugi, Collanto, Activskin (Comfilon), Comfort4Men, DoYeah, ela, Emilio Cavallini, Evona, Fibrotex, Gerbe, Legwear4Men, Levee, Lida, Shivers Wear, Polarhose, Tim Legwear, and Trumpf.
Lida Man's World Opaques (photo courtesy of Shapings.com)