This season, tights are back in a big way.
But given the juggernaut of sustainability that the fashion industry is grappling with, an eco-spotlight is being shone on every nook and cranny of Planet Fashion and nobody is safe.
To give a brief overview, tights have long been seen as the single-use-plastic-equivalent of the textile industry. One-hit wonders, so to speak.
But now a host of brands have taken up the challenge to re-design traditionally non-biodegradable hosiery.
“The hosiery industry as we know it is outdated and a major source of pollution. Apart from that tights don't last long at all - pantyhose are women's biggest consumable garment, which is also incredibly harmful to the environment”, says Linn Frisinger, who co-founded Swedish Stockings in 2013 to provide an antidote to what she describes as “women’s number one wear-and-tear clothing item.”
Swedish Stockings are making their garments exclusively from recycled nylon in factories run solely on renewable energy.
Frisinger expands: “Our facilities are also zero-waste - any extra thread gets used to produce samples, the water in the dyeing process gets re-used when it can (50%) and the rest of it gets purified to before being released back in the local environment,”
But with increased eco-viability, comes the concern that style could be compromised.
Not for Swedish Stockings, which collaborated with Danish brand Ganni on a range of tights for its Autumn/ Winter 2019 collection, all designed in prints integral to Ganni’s ‘It’ girl DNA (think leopard print and ditsy pastel florals.)
Upon the launch, Ganni’s Creative Director, Ditte Reffstrup commented: ““I was shocked and had no idea how harmful an effect making regular stockings had on the planet. They’re such a fashion essential, that you reach for every day and so often have to throw away due to wear and tear. So we wanted to shout it loud.”
Daniel Clayton, founder of fellow sustainable hosiery brand, Legwear Company, echoes Reffstrup’s concern: he has estimated that there is in excess of 103,000 tons of hosiery waste created every year.
“A lot of people don't understand - exactly the same polymer raw material goes into hosiery tights as plastic bottles and bags etc. They will meticulously recycle their household waste but wouldn't think twice about throwing a laddered pair of tights in the bin,” he explains.
Hosiery brand Heist have just launched their first recycled pair of fishnets, made from over 86% pre-consumer recycled waste, and in a similar vein, cult-brand Wolford also offer planet-friendly pairs of fishnets made using, you guessed it, recycled ocean fishnets.
But when it comes to sustainable tights, it doesn’t just come from abolishing the use of nylon. By reducing a pair’s propensity to laddering, their lifespan is increased, meaning less pairs will be discarded.
Hēdoïne offer a ladder-free guarantee, Canadian company Sheertex are claiming they have created “the world’s first unbreakable sheers” and the Legwear Company has a 60-day warranty on their garments.
Frisinger summarises: “You feel better when you buy a product that has a positive impact.”
Not dissimilar to the rest of the industry, fashion’s most disposable item is having one hell of a makeover.
Heist's The Fishnet is available to buy now for £22.