After a decade of falling hosiery sales, a new generation of eye-catching stocking designs is capturing the imagination of Japanese women.
At Avantgarde, a specialty store in Tokyo’s Harajuku fashion district, staff are struggling to keep up with demand. They sell around 500 pairs a month. The 400 or so designs range from candy stripes to Disney characters to tattoo imitations.
One 18-year-old student from Tokyo, who eventually selected a strawberry patterned pair, said: “It’s getting hot. Skin-toned stockings may look balmier than black ones, but by wearing patterned stockings, I can avoid seeing someone with the same stockings.”
The store opened last autumn. Initially, it found a market with professional stylists but is now attracting ordinary shoppers.
The craze is being felt in mainstream outlets, too. Odakyu department store’s main outlet in Shinjuku, Tokyo, saw sales of stockings rise 60 percent in April and 20 percent in May, year on year.
At Seibu department store’s Shibuya outlet, sales of stockings rose 20 percent in April and 30 percent in May compared with 2011.
And, after a fall of about 60 percent in stocking sales in the 10 years to 2011, the Japan Society for Hosiery says sales have sharply increased this year.
Mini magazine, aimed at women in their 20s, sparked the fashionable stocking boom when it featured "transparent tights" last autumn. The magazine put out a "stocking" book in April, which has sold 20,000 copies at bookstores and convenience stores.
Editor in Chief Mumi Misawa, 31, said stockings had been long absent from the fashion scene but were an easy-to-follow trend for young women.
The trend also seems to be encouraging sales of plainer designs.
Atsugi Co., a leading hosiery and lingerie manufacture, has launched 11 new styles of plain stocking under the slogan “The return of plain stockings.” It says it saw a double-digit increase in sales of the plain designs between February and May this year compared with the same period in 2011, an official said.
“The trend that stocking-less legs are cool may well be over,” said Atsugi public relations official Kaoru Yamasaki.
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