“There’s a hole in your tights!” So says anyone with eyes, it seems, in the unfortunate event of your ripping your hosiery. If not a hole then a 6in ladder. Extra points if the gusset has sagged below your skirt line. 

Hosiery is one of the most wasteful sectors in the fashion industry. Each year around eight billion pairs of tights are thrown into landfill, most of them worn less than a handful of times. For problem solvers it poses a thrilling question: is there such a thing as a pair of ladderless tights?

Less than one per cent of Hēdoïne’s customers report ladders
Less than one per cent of Hēdoïne’s customers report ladders

Technology entrepreneur Katherine Homuth had countless emergency tights runs before setting out to make her own solution. “I couldn’t understand how we had self-driving cars and space travel, but a pair of tights couldn’t get through the day,” she says. After two years of research – beginning with a $2,000 spool of ballistic-grade fibre that breaks most sewing machines – Homuth launched Sheertex in 2019. Today the brand’s tights (from £40) have been stuffed with everything from fire extinguishers to gym weights: within reason, they are all but unbreakable.  

Hēdoïne founders Anna Rauch and Alexandra Tymann are also spurred by frustration. “What is the most annoying product you can think of?” asks Tymann. Not only have the duo developed a ladder-defying knitting technique but sagging gussets are cured with a seamless, shaping waistband. Tymann is keen to highlight that Hēdoïne’s styles (£30) are “not indestructible”, yet less than one per cent of customers report ladders – and any who do can request a replacement pair.

Swedish Stockings Malva ladder-resistant tights, £26
Swedish Stockings Malva ladder-resistant tights, £26
Sheertex Latticed rip-resist tights, £80
Sheertex Latticed rip-resist tights, £80 © Garrett Naccarato

Aside from general uselessness, the problem with tights is that the vast majority are made from nylon, much of which can’t easily be recycled. Hēdoïne addresses this with biodegradable yarn; Sheertex promotes circular fashion by increasing the number of uses. For Stockholm-based Swedish Stockings, meanwhile, the answer lies in what they claim to be the world’s first ladder-resistant tights made from recycled nylon (£27). “I wanted to make tights more attractive for women,” says co-founder Linn Frisinger, who launched the style off the back of the “Olivia” (£26), dubbed “the world’s greatest tights”. 

Heist The 15 Denier tights, £22
Heist The 15 Denier tights, £22 © Adam Titchener

Sheertex’s Homuth hopes to expand her technology past hosiery, a feat already achieved by British brand Heist, which offers comfortable, ladder-resistant tights (from £22) as well as shapewear and intimates. But for now “the goal is sheer’’, with lower deniers expected to drop next year. “A lot of people make comparisons to sorcery or magic,” concludes Homuth. “We’ve had customers who fall while rollerblading and get their knees scraped – but the tights are still perfect on top.” 

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