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As a tall person whose weight pretty much fluctuates with the seasons, wearing tights is usually a nightmare (though I suspect this is a struggle that doesn’t discriminate based on size). I’ve never owned a pair that doesn’t dig into my stomach, tear around the waist band area, or repeatedly roll down all day.
So when I heard about Heist — a hosiery brand that claims to have solved all these problems with better materials, both high and low waist options, and a promise not to leave me scratching or shifting around uncomfortably — I had to try them out.
The London-based brand was launched in late 2015 by Creative Director Edzard van der Wyck, who was inspired by a moment with his wife in a hosiery shop. “I was amazed that this was supposedly the best pair of tights out there, or best company making tights,” van der Wyck says. “Yet somehow the product didn't seem to be evoking a lot of love.”
Bringing his experience from nearly twenty years running a creative studio, van der Wyk set out to disrupt the hosiery industry from multiple angles: first by improving the actual fit and feel of the garment, and then in the way women’s bodies, or any bodies for that matter, are portrayed in them. (Maybe you’ve seen some of their campaign images on Facebook, featuring dancers in active movement, as well as various fruits inside tights tubing overlaid with phrases like “whatever gender.”)
During the research and development phase, van der Wyk spent a year gathering feedback from 67 women, mostly from his own circle of “film directors and fashion people.” Over and over, van der Wyk heard the same complaints: the itch, those awkward red marks from seams, and especially the uncomfortable, digging waistband.
To solve the fit problems, van der Wyk and the Heist team created something they call “the endless waistband:” A totally seamless band which is made from the same kind of material that is used for high-end Italian sportswear (think leggings) that’s wide enough to prevent digging and stretchy enough to prevent rolling down.
While admittedly the name is a little creepy, it’s really just another way of saying that the waistband can stretch as much as it needs to — to accommodate a growing pregnant belly, or maybe just a healthy-portioned meal. And the seamless design means you won’t be wearing those angry red marks on your skin for hours after you take the tights off.
Despite the promise of super-stretchy, Italian double-covered yarn, I was a little afraid they wouldn’t fit me after chatting with van der Wyck, who told me that his Heist conforms to Italian sizes (which means they run slightly smaller).
But with a bit of wiggling, the XL 80 denier tights I tried were easy enough to pull on, and I felt completely comfortable throughout the day. Without fully intending to, I threw everything I possibly could at them (including a jagged manicure) and not once did I have to adjust, scratch, or do that thing where you start pulling up your tights from your ankle and work your way up to the thigh.
Sometimes tights can feel suffocating, like your skin can’t breathe and you’re overheating. But in the Heist tights, I felt comfortable and cool. I also love that there is no gusset, which is the extra material some tights have sewn into the seat and waist to strengthen them then in that area, which for me, always seem to show through my clothes as visible panty lines, and tends to rip. Heist has also tucked the toe seam underneath the foot instead of along the top of the toes, which gives your feet a nice silhouette and sleeker look.
So what’s the catch? At the moment, the only catch is a waiting game for bigger sizes. The range currently includes four different levels of opacity, all with a choice of high or low waist band, in sizes from small to XL.
“It’s not that we didn't want to immediately introduce them, but actually it's a technical challenge,” van der Wyck says. “The seamless design of the tights is limited by the diameter of the machine that makes them. We could have released bigger sizes pretty quickly, but it wouldn’t have been a seamless design.” After a few months of sampling and testing, Van der Wyck says they are planning to release bigger sizes within the next month (currently the size chart on Heist’s website indicates that 2XL and 3XL sizes are “coming soon”).