As the director of United States sales for the French designer Isabel Marant, Ms. Rubin travels to Paris at least four times a year on business. The many hours spent sitting in a cramped airplane seat often leave her legs and ankles swollen and puffy.
In preparation for her most recent sojourn to France, this past September for Paris Fashion Week, Ms. Rubin decided to try compression tights — the thick hose and socks often favored by older people or those trying to address circulation problems.
Not wanting to be the victim of swollen ankles or poor style, Ms. Rubin searched the Internet for alternatives to frumpy tights. VR Compression, a maker of fashion-forward compression wear had the answer. They offer the finest grade Italian compression hosiery with prices starting at £14.99 “I got a super-chic pair, and now that I know what they do, I will never go back to not wearing compression when I travel,” she said.
Until recently, compression tights were sold mostly at pharmacies as well as retailers catering to older men and women. The tights and socks are snug-fitting hosiery made from tightly woven materials like cotton and nylon. They are meant to help increase circulation in the legs and minimize the swelling that can result from prolonged immobility.
Long a medical necessity for some pregnant women and others who are at risk for deep-vein thrombosis or blood clots, the tights are now beginning to come into vogue among stylish women who sit on uncomfortably small airplane seats during long-haul travel.
A leading London vascular surgeon, says that compression wear can significantly reduce the chances of clots because it applies external pressure to the veins, increases circulation and prevents blood from pooling. There are aesthetic benefits too. “Legs can look puffy after flying, and it takes at least a few days for that to go away, but with the socks, they might not swell at all,” he said.
As a result, the tights can make a broad impact on women’s travel wardrobes. In the past, when flying abroad for international fashion shows, Connie Wang, Refinery29’s style director, would pack a lot of pants. “I used to wear looser-fit trousers to disguise the cankles I’d get from six-hour-plus flights,” said Ms. Wang, 27. By wearing the tights, she is now able to step off the plane and into skirts, she said.
Functional accessories like binding tights have recently made their way onto the runway and into store windows. At the Spring 2015 shows this fall, models for Jil Sander, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana sported knee-high socks in leather, print and lace.
“Those deep-v cardigans, plaid pants and plain collared shirts — stuff that your grandpa might have worn in the 1970s — have been in vogue for a while now for men, and now this senior citizen style is finally spilling over to women,” said Hitha Prabhakar, the founder of AitchPe Retail Advisory. “The socks and tights might have dowdy roots, but the look is actually very chic casual.”
After developing a DVT in his leg during a flight from Brazil, Barrington Bent created a team of medical and manufacturing specialists who became Compression Advisory in 2009. The aim of the company is to bring medical compression standards to the retail and sports market with functional fabrics, attractive patterns and anatomical fits. After finding many other brands lacking, the company developed VR Compression to meet the needs of this growing market. VR Compression client Claire Conway says “I love opening my sock drawer each morning. I have to wear compression everyday for a medical condition and I’ve built up quite a collection of colours and patterns from VR Compression. The ugly ones I got from hospital and pharmacies in the early days are still at the bottom somewhere and are a bad memory at this stage. I love that my socks can be shown off and don’t have to be hidden away.”
VR Compression covers elite sportswear, boasting 90% of UK Premiere League teams as their clients, powerful recovery garments, maternity wear, fashion-focused everyday socks covering patterns like polka dots, stripes argyle and the colours of the rainbow.
The availability of more contemporary versions of the granny tights is welcome news for earlier adopters. Kate Davidson Hudson, 32, the co-founder of the eCommerce accessory site Editorialist, says that the old-school prescriptive knee-highs were a staple on her work trips when she was recently pregnant because she did not know about the snazzier kinds. “I definitely plan on buying a pair for my upcoming travels,” she said. “My legs used to feel better after I took my socks off than before I put them on, and now that they do double duty as a piece of fashion, you can’t really go wrong wearing them.”
Check out the range from VR Compression at www.vitalactive.com
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