This category covers establishments primarily engaged in knitting, dyeing, or finishing hosiery, not elsewhere classified. Establishments engaged in the knitting, dyeing, or finishing of anklets, boys' hosiery, children's hosiery, leg warmers, men's hosiery, socks, slipper socks, and men's and children's tights are included in this category. Establishments engaged in the production of women's full-length and knee-length hosiery and panty hose are classified in SIC 2251: Women's Full-Length and Knee-Length Hosiery, Except Socks. Establishments engaged in manufacturing elastic (orthopedic) hosiery are classified in SIC 3842: Orthopedic, Prosthetic, and Surgical Appliances and Supplies.
315111 (Sheer Hosiery Mills)
315119 (Other Hosiery and Sock Mills)
Products in this category range from heavy woolen socks used by hunters to lightweight anklets worn by small children. They can be made from cotton, wool, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, rayon, mohair, and other fibers, as well as blends of two or more fibers. The fabric is produced on small-diameter knitting machines.
Unlike most companies that weave fabric, establishments in this segment usually purchase yarn instead of making their own because it would be too costly and inefficient for each facility to manufacture the many types of yarn used to make hosiery. After buying the yarn, most companies in this category complete their own dyeing, finishing, and packaging. At that point, their merchandise is ready for retail sale.
Of the plants in operation, more than 50 percent had at least 20 employees. Most establishments in the segment were concentrated in the Southeast, particularly in North Carolina and Alabama.
This category remained steady during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The increasing popularity of casual clothing and a strong movement toward active wear throughout most of the United States helped to offset the impact of recessionary economic conditions in the early 2000s. Men's finished seamless hosiery and socks made of natural fibers made up slightly more than 60 percent of sales within this category at that time. Shipments of men's finished seamless hosiery and socks grew from $1.21 billion in 1999 to $1.41 billion in 2000, before declining slightly to $1.4 billion in 2001. Total industry shipments followed a similar trend, growing from $2.65 billion in 1999 to $2.79 billion in 2000, before declining moderately to $2.68 billion in 2001.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, hosiery manufacturers tried to operate more efficiently—and some companies merged—to compete more effectively in the global marketplace. Kayser-Roth Corp. was acquired by an Italian hosiery firm named Golden Lady. (It had previously been owned by a Mexican company.) Renfro Corp. and Ridgeview Inc. were two leading hosiery makers that closed factories to reduce their expenses. In 2001, Ridgeview filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Its assets were later acquired by Great American Knitting Mills. Another leading industry player, Chipman-Union Inc., filed bankruptcy in 2002.
The leading company in this category is Kayser-Roth Corp. (Greensboro, North Carolina) with sales estimated at $500 million in 2003 and approximately 6,000 employees. Other leaders in the industry were privately owned Renfro Corp. (Mount Airy, North Carolina) with estimated sales of $170 million; Adams-Millis Div., a subsidiary of Sara Lee Branded Apparel (Winston-Salem, North Carolina); and DeSoto Mills Inc. (Fort Payne, Alabama), a unit of Russell Corp. Diversified hosiery makers also competed in this industry, including Fruit of the Loom Inc. (Bowling Green, Kentucky), Jockey International Inc. (Kenosha, Wisconsin), Americal Corp. (Henderson, North Carolina), Kentucky Derby Hosiery Company Inc. (Hopkinsville, Kentucky), and Danskin Inc. (New York, New York).
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that roughly 400 companies operated in this category in the early 2000s. They shipped $2.9 billion worth of goods, spent $1.4 billion on materials, and paid out $96 million for capital expenditures. They employed 33,265 people, including 28,594 production workers who earned an average hourly wage of $10.63.
"Makers Take One Step at a Time." WWD, 9 December 2002.
U.S. Census Bureau. "Statistics for Industry Groups and Industries: 2000." February 2002. Available from http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/m00as-1.pdf .
——. "Value of Shipment for Product Classes: 2001 and Earlier Years." December 2002. Available from http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/m01as-2.pdf .