Kayser-Roth Corporation
Burlington, NC
The Kayser-Roth Logo, Burlington, NC
Photo Gary N. Mock
A neighbor was Burlington Socks -
"The Green Toe Seam" logo on the old Water Tower,
Burlington, NC Photo Gary N. Mock
Hosiery Center of the
Kayser-Roth Corporation – James W. Maynard

Julius Kayser originally of Brooklyn, NY, founded Julius Kayser & Co. and was a dominant factor in hosiery,
gloves and lingerie in the early part of the 20th Century.  They acquired Chester H. Roth Co. (Esquire Socks) in
1958 and changed the name to Kayser- Roth.  Alfred P. Slaner (1919-1996), the nephew of Chester Roth, had
been running the Chester H. Roth Co. since the early 1950’s and became head of KR.  He developed Supp-
Hose™ as an alternative to rubber support stockings.  In the 1970s, Merwin Joseph was the President of the
Hosiery Division, Irving Hoffman was the CFO.  In 1973, Frank Calabretta – a marketing guru, is credited with
developing and promoting “No Nonsense” brand panty hose to compete with the L’Eggs™ brand from Hanes
Hosiery. (1,2)

Consider the climate that the hosiery industry was dealing with at the time.  Three major things took place in
the early 70's that could not have been forecast and together created the "perfect storm" of events for the
ladies hosiery industry. (1)

First, 1970-1973 saw a major recession in the economy with the usual negative effects on business in
general and the hosiery industry was no exception. Second, around 1972, production from
Gebor came on
Gebor was a company set up in the new state of Israel and subsidized by the US government for the sole
purpose of manufacturing and exporting pantyhose to the US retail market. Before long, the volume
approached 20% of the domestic market and, like automobiles later, was a factor in depressing the US
market.  Finally, 1970-1973 witnessed a cruel and relentless change in women's fashions. The mini skirt
explosion of the 1960's, which had been a boon to the pantyhose industry, collapsed. Since WWII, an old
wives tale but uncannily accurate saying, was that the health of the economy varied directly proportionally with
the length of women's skirts and dresses. As the miniskirt disappeared, longer skirts came into vogue. More
importantly, pant suits for women exploded in popularity. Pants had started out as dress for the yard and
garden, but then became accepted for work and the office and finally were acceptable for social occasions
and party attire. It was a grim time. (1)

In 1973, KR was faced with a need to do something drastic to combat the competition from their major brand
competitor - Hanes Hosiery. Hanes had introduced the L'Eggs™ brand and was experiencing dramatic
growth in face of the other adverse factors of the time. It was a dramatic and drastic change in the way
pantyhose was marketed. (1)

Years earlier, in the 40's and 50's, full-fashion stockings were sold by department store clerks who took the
boarded pairs of hosiery out of the tissue wrapped package in a 1/4 dozen wrapped box and spread them on
a counter for the customer not only to see the color but feel the fabric! When pantyhose replaced stockings, the
package became an L-board or V-board with the fully boarded pantyhose wrapped around an insert and
overwrapped or sealed in cello bag. Now, the customer could see the color but could not touch the fabric. No
sales clerk was involved as the packages were displayed on a rack or on shelves. (1)

What exactly had Hanes' L'Eggs™ accomplished? They were stuffing an unboarded pair of pantyhose into a
sealed plastic egg-shaped package. The customer could not see the color, feel the fabric or even see the
product! The retailer was provided color swatches and style descriptions to attach the shelves or racks. (1)

Who was the retailer? All of a sudden, Hanes had penetrated not only the conventional soft goods retailer like
department stores and what we know today as the big box stores, but they were entering new outlets for
hosiery. These were the regional and national grocery chains and drug store chains. (1)

KR could not sit idly by. As the other major hosiery brand, they had to react. Private label hosiery
manufacturers would also tap these new outlets for their merchandise. KR committed to a major program
which was No Nonsense. The packaging was a sealed, flexible, foil envelope on self service racks complete
with color displays and product description displays, in addition to what was printed on the package. (1)

The industry recognized that the un-boarded product was technically superior to boarded pantyhose because
it retained more stretch and recoverability in the knee and ankle areas. The thermoplastic nylon yarn had not
been heated and the stretch characteristic not partially killed as a result. However, to overcome the crumpled
appearance, first to the retail buyer and then the consumer, took tremendous efforts and advertising monies to
educate the public. Hanes worked through a network of distributers to service the retailers while KR continued
their more conventional distribution methods. (1)

Thirty-five years later, it is apparent that these high level management decisions to substantially alter the way
a product was manufactured, packaged, distributed, advertised and sold to the ultimate consumer was a real
coup. Done during periods where survival was paramount and growing to an unprecedented level of success,
the development of No Nonsense brand pantyhose and later all kinds of ladies hosiery products is testament
to the dedication of KR management and employees. (1)

In 1975, the conglomerate, Gulf +Western, acquired KR.  Gulf+Western became Paramount Communications
in 1989 and Viacom in 1994.  In 1999, Golden Lady of Florence, Italy purchased Kayser-Roth.  Golden Lady is
the largest hosiery manufacturer in Italy and supplies all of Italy and most of Europe. (1)

Note:  The following has nothing to do with KR.  The water tower shown in a picture at the top of the page is
next door to the KR plant today.  Burlington was a competitor with KR until going out of business.

During the 1940’s, May Hosiery Mills, owned by Ben V. May; McEwen Hosiery Mills, owned by James H.
McEwen (1894-1946); and Herbert (Hub) Kaiser merged to become May McEwen Kaiser Hosiery Mills, Inc.  
Burlington Mills bought the company in 1948.  Hub Kaiser became a director of Burlington Mills.
 Cameo, a
successful hosiery brand for MMK, was adopted by Burlington.

1.         James W. Maynard, Personal Communication 2009, 2010.
2.        Susan Klinger, Personal Communication 2010.

Page Copyright Gary N. Mock 2009-2013
Ad for Gold Cup by
Courtesy Peter Metzke
Ad for Bur-Mil Cameo  hosiery and the
major department stores featuring
Photo Gary N. Mock
Kayser logo 1956
Hosiery and Underwear magazine cover
1958 Ad featuring the many brands
united under Kayser-Roth Hosiery Co., Inc.
Burlington Socks