Stockings as we know them today date back to Mediaeval times, when silk began to be used for this type of garment. However, as in previous centuries, they were worn exclusively by men, but once women were allowed to show a little leg, stockings found a place in the feminine wardrobe, eventually becoming - in the sheer silk version - a symbol of luxury.
A luxury, of course, available to only a small number of women, until the invention of rayon – called “artificial silk” - brought relatively sheer stockings within reach of a much larger section of the population. These stockings were produced using the shaped and sewn knit.
But it wasn't until the late 1930s that the real revolution occurred, one surely never imagined by French chemist Eleuthère Irénée DuPont de Nemours. After migrating to Delaware in the USA he opened a gunpowder factory. In 1938 this small family company developed nylon. Invented by Wallace Carothers, it was the first synthetic fibre to be described as “tough as steel and delicate as gossamer”.
The following year nylon stockings went on sale in a few shops in Wilmington, the location of the Du Pont de Nemours factory.
In 1940, the war interrupted production of fine nylon stockings and women were forced to improvise, inking the characteristic rear seam onto their legs themselves. When the war ended they reappeared in all their desirable glory, and women formed long queues outside the shops.
legwear IN THE POST-WAR YEARS
The 1950s ushered in a new revolution that spread rapidly across the USA and Europe - this exciting innovation was seamless stockings, also featuring different deniers and new colours, while technological progress made nylon less expensive and so more accessible. The second revolution in the stocking world came in the 1960s, once again under the DuPont name, when the American giant launched its Lycra elastane.
At first the fibre was used to make medical stockings, but when André Courrèges and Mary Quant introduced the miniskirt in early 1965,
it was the turn of tights to make their appearance, bringing new levels of comfort and fit. Opaque tights became a fashion phenomenon, the result of an encounter between circular knit technology and the new textured nylon yarns.
New technology and fashions encouraged constant development - the market was revitalised by lace stockings and tights in the 1960s, silky, elegant sheer designs in the 1980s and the unprecedented comfort of the 1990s.
Nowadays the popularity enjoyed by tights is a the result of an ideal mix of taste, technical innovation, skilful choice of raw materials and quality production. This success is nurtured by an area centred on Castel Goffredo, in the province of Mantova. Here, in a region known as “the hosiery capital”, we are side by side with important brands and smaller companies, all of which can draw on a fund of shared knowledge that “translates scientific knowledge into skills and expertise, and flourishes through interweaving relationships among families and friends".