The Story of Tights
The story of tights…developed by the late Allen Gant Sr. in 1959, we have watched the garment move from high fashion to optional accessory. Three generations of women have now experienced waist-to-toe stockings and amazing to think that a man invented pantyhose, the twist being that it was at the request of his wife.
Mr Gant’s heavily pregnant wife, Ethel informed her husband that she would no longer be traveling with him, at least until the birth of their child. It was nothing personal, just a matter of comfort. Managing her stockings and garter belt over her expanding belly was becoming difficult, and being a proper lady, she would not be seen in public without her hosiery.
The year was 1953 and if you were a woman, a night on the town meant either squeezing into a girdle or slipping on a garter belt. Formal dress dictated that females wear such intimate, and often uncomfortable, articles of clothing. How else could you hold up your nylons?
Allen Gant Sr., then running textile company Glen Raven Mills, was inspired by his wife’s lament. “How would it be if we made a pair of panties and fastened the stockings to it?” he asked Ethel. She stitched some crude garments together, tried them on, and handed the products to her husband. “You got to figure out how to do this,” she said. Allen brought his wife’s experiment into the office, and with the help of his colleagues Arthur Rogers, J. O. Austin, and Irvin Combs, developed what they later called “Panti-Legs.” Their product—the world’s first commercial pantyhose—began lining department store shelves in 1959.
The panty-stocking combo did not grab most women’s attentions at first. Though the convenience of not having to wear a girdle or garter belt was a plus, what helped pantyhose take hold was the rise of the miniskirt in the mid-1960s.When iconic models such as Twiggy were seen wearing them with miniskirts, pantyhose exploded!
By the 1970s and 1980s, pantyhose were a staple in every teen and woman’s wardrobe. As more women headed into the workplace, sales of pantyhose only grew.