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European Hosiery Comes to America: Meet Peek Brooklyn's Cristina Casciano-King

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Cristina Casciano-King has loved quality hosiery ever since she was a girl growing up in Bethlehem, PA. Her hometown had a hosiery store, and it was there that she first learned about legwear. After marrying her husband, who is English, Casciano-King took advantage of family trips to Europe to stock up on styles that weren't available in the US. Back home in Brooklyn, people would stop her on the street to ask about her stockings and where to buy them. She even started a blog, Who Moved My Birkin, to discuss all things legwear.

Before long, a business was born: Peek Brooklyn, which launched in September, aims to "bring the finest hosiery from around the world" to the US. They are the exclusive retailer for several European brands and carry everything from opaque and nude stockings to fishnets and House of Holland's multicolored crochet tights. Casciano-King invited Racked to her Brooklyn home, where hosiery is a way of life.

Before even getting to her stockroom, Casciano-King showed off her personal collection, which is meticulously organized by style and color. Each pair of stockings is sealed in a Ziploc bag and labeled with the brand and date of purchase--some of the pairs are ten years old and still look fresh. ("Woolite Dark," she says before we even have a chance to ask.) She suggests washing tights by hand, but in a pinch you can put them in a lingerie bag. "It's important to let them dry completely."

As for Peek's stock, it's a mix of well-known brands like Anna Sui and Jonathan Aston and European labels like Transparenze. The biggest sellers are opaque tights (thanks, Kate Middleton), although Casciano-King says that there are interesting regional differences: Southerners stick with traditional nudes while Midwesterners try more interesting patterns. One recent hit were Transparenze's heart-shaped box tights (pictured at top of page), which were popular with burlesque performers, one of the site's core audiences. Casciano-King first got the word out about her business by attending local burlesue shows and fairs. "Almost anywhere you go, you can find tights," she points out, "but you can't find the colors and the brands that we carry."

So what's next for Peek? Casciano-King hopes to open a brick-and-mortar store in her home borough and carry lingerie as well.
· Peek Brooklyn [Official Site]