Demand for Hosiery in the U.S. Expects a Colorful Ascend

Knitted and Crocheted Apparel December 20, 2015
Author: Alla Yakimova
Market Analyst

The hosiery market of today abounds in numerous types of this accessory: textured, footless, printed, opaque, and leggings just to name a few. A current fashion trend is shape and structure perfection.

As in other industries, technology has been playing an essential role in the tights business. Mechanical knitting machinery has been replaced by more compact and sophisticated electronic machines capable of more production volumes in a shorter period of time.

In the U.S., vendors are using laser and ultrasonic technology to enhance the accuracy of fabric cutting. The laser technology also reduces the time for changing the cutting heads in different fabrics, thus boosting productivity. Ultrasonic technology helps in cutting all fabrics with sealed edges to prevent their fraying. With advances in technology, wastage is reduced, allowing for sustainable utilization of resources and improved profit margins for vendors.

Changing lifestyles have also greatly influenced the tights industry. The rapidly expanding teen and young adult market is now filled with a plethora of brand-new looks and an incredibly wide array of colors every season.

In order to win their market share, tights manufacturers are betting on competitive pricing policies, including multipack promotions for throwaway prices. New collections never fail to sate customers' yearning for variety, ranging from natural and classic styles to more bold glitzy and animal print looks.

High-fashion trends give the manufacturers freedom to experiment with designs and fabrics, fomented by the customers that are willing to try out new unconventional patterns and quirky designs. It makes sense, then, for companies to avoid holding onto a trend for too long, and, instead, simply try to keep up with volatile tastes and the rapid shift of consumer demand.

At present, leggings are all the rage, especially opaque colorful ones. Leggings are generally more long-lasting than tights and are now considered more convenient and practical. Tights are being readily used for dance, exercise or as a ready-to-wear fashion accessory. Color is a key determinant in the sales of solid alternative legwear, especially for tights. Opaque leggings in rainbow patterns are dominant in high-fashion brands and accessories.

Despite the fact that low labor costs and production expenditures keep most of the manufacturing of tights and leggings overseas, it is still too early to completely write off the U.S. domestic hosiery manufacturing industry. Walmart, for instance, recently announced that it is expanding its "Made in the USA" program by investing $28 million in existing production facilities to produce No Nonsense leggings, tights and socks. Also in 2014, Renfro Corporation invested $14 million in U.S. based production capacity for sock manufacturing.

China was the main supplier of hosiery and socks into the U.S., increasing its share from 28% in 2007 to 54% in 2014 of total U.S. imports. The fastest growing suppliers were El Salvador (+23.8% per year) and China (+16.9% per year) in total imports from 2007 to 2014.

In 2014, the main destinations of U.S. hosiery and sock exports were Canada (20.1%), El Salvador (16.6%) and Viet Nam (16.3%). The share exported to Viet Nam increased (+17 percentage points), while the share sent to Mexico illustrated negative dynamics (-1 percentage points). The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Source: U.S. Hosiery And Sock Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2020