The story of stockings began in 1589. That was when the English churchman Reverend William Lee invented the world's first knitting machine and started to make hosiery out of cotton, wool and silk. The machine was a national treasure. In fact, the queen of the day threatened the death penalty for anyone who attempted to export it.
In the 19th century machine-made cotton stockings became available for women. After World War I (1914-1918) short skirts were fashionable and long silk stockings were worn again, once again, proving that fashion and skirt length determine hosiery fashion! With the discovery and ultimate use of Dupont Nylon in the late 30's and early 40's, the primacy of silk in women's hosiery waned. Silk was ultimately replaced by nylon after the war. The technology remained reasonably static right until the 1930s, when a new circular knitting machine meant garments could be made in one piece, and no longer needed to be sewn together.
Vintage nylon stockings which became popular after World War II (1939-1945) and completely replaced the silk stocking usually had stockings seams until the late 1960's. They were knitted flat and "fully fashioned" which means that they were shaped to fit the leg like modern sweaters. By decreasing the number of stitches as the stocking was knit towards the ankle, a garment was created that was "knit to fit". Nylon was a revelation. The first nylon stockings appeared in New York stores on May 15, 1940. Over 72,000 pairs were sold in the first day alone, and the Japanese silk market collapsed almost overnight. Department stores throughout America saw a similar stampede. In the first year, 64 million pairs of stockings were sold and manufacturers could not keep up with demand.When the US joined the Second World War in 1942, most nylon production was switched into tent and parachute manufacturing for the military forces. American GIs could still get hold of stockings, though, and they became the gift of seduction as the GIs tried to woo their way into the hearts of British women.After the war, demand rocketed. The first post-war hosiery sale took place in 1945 in Market Street, San Francisco, and attracted 10,000 shoppers. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s stockings were known as " fully-fashioned stockings " rather than the single size of most hosiery today. Fully-fashioned stockings were tailored to the shape of the leg, and had a distinctive seam at the back. When women could not afford stockings, or had difficulty getting hold of them, they would often draw a vertical line up the back of their legs to simulate the effect.
Since 2000 vintahe stockings have become incredibly popular especially at special events such as Ascot Ladies day, weddings, the ball season they are the ultimate fashion statement in couture for the legs and also very hygenic and sensuous
Definition of Hosiery and stockings Terms