Forever tights? Now that’s an idea that could really have legs | Tights and socks

Would you pay £62 for a pair of tights? What about if they were guaranteed not to rip, ladder or snag for at least three months? For anyone who frequently screams in frustration as they tear a pair while pulling them on, the world’s toughest tights – as they are being described – could prove tempting.

To tight or not to tight used to be a subject as divisive as the Conservatives’ economic policy. With energy bills rising, trying to emulate the year round bare-legged lifestyle of the 1% is no longer viable.

Despite current mild weather, John Lewis reports that searches for tights is up three times on the same time last year. An M&S spokesperson says it sells a pair of its 60-denier Body Sensor tights every two minutes. Even the fashion world that has historically shunned them is shifting its attitude, with black tights proving to be a styling hit.

The Scandal star Kerry Washington and the model Hailey Bieber teamed black tights with white dresses at the Emmy Awards and Met Gala respectively. At Balenciaga’s latest couture show thick black tights made jewel-coloured dresses pop even more.

Model poses at street cafe table in white dress and sheer black tights
Tights (and dress) by Wolford. Photograph: Streetstyleshooters/Getty

With high street prices starting from £3, on paper popping on a pair sounds like a frugal heating option. However, according to a 2016 Asda survey, a UK woman spends on average £3,000 on tights in her lifetime. The biggest factors for repeat buying? The dreaded ladder.

Step forward the £62 offer from the Canadian-founded brand Sheertex. Alongside that offering, Hēdoïne has a ladder-free guarantee covering its 20, 30 and 50 denier range and The Legwear Co has tested its products to last 100 washes with a 60-day warranty.

Hosiery is one of the worst categories of textile waste. Tights are typically made using synthetic polyamides such as nylon and elastane that do not biodegrade, and shed microplastics every time they are washed. Each year, about 8bn pairs are thrown away, most worn only a couple of times.

The packet of tights
‘I couldn’t get them to ladder,’ says our reviewer. Photograph: John Lewis

Forever tights play into the buy less, buy better narrative. A study by Mistra Future Fashion highlights that just doubling the number of uses for a garment’s lifecycle eliminated almost 50% of the production impact.

The difference between the expensive “forever tights” and cheaper versions is the type of fibres used. Sheertex’s founder, Katherine Homuth, spent two years researching fabrics before launching the brand in 2019.

The knit she eventually settled on is made using a miniaturised version of polymer fibres traditionally found in climbing equipment and even bulletproof vests. Videos online featuring puppies chewing them and even a woman trying to slice through them with a machete.

We asked workers who spend all day on their feet to test some:

Tried and tested

Isabella Roberts, lead florist at McQueens Flowers. John Lewis ladder-resist tights, £5

“I attacked these with a rose stem covered in thorns. I couldn’t get them to ladder. I would definitely buy them.”

Carys Bailey, co-founder Goodcup cafe. Wolford merino tights, £55

“Being customer-facing you need tights that are comfortable and stay put. These did just that. Plus they didn’t snag or rip.”

Stephanie Lynch, dog walker. Sheertex classic sheer rip-resist tights, £62

“Not even Emmy, a very excitable cavapoo who loves to jump up on me, could snag these. After a four-hour walk they were the same. Fantastic.”

Kate Edwards, cat owner. Hēdoïne biodegradable and ladder resistant, £30

“I had a cat on my lap for 20 minutes and no ladders, which is quite a result. I can add them to my compost bin, although it says it takes three to five years for them to break down, so I may be picking them out again when I come to use the compost.”

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