There's evidence that hosiery was fashionable even in ancient time but was extremely expensive and reserved only to the high society. It was primarily made of silk (very costly) or of rayon (very delicate and not easily worked). Invented in 1935 by Wallace Carothers from DuPont, nylon, a very low cost synthetic fiber, would change this fact. First used in 1938 as toothbrush, nylon was first used in hosiery in 1940. This new fiber revolutionized the hosiery industry. Women socks made of nylon were well received by the public and by the end on WWII, they had become the symbol of Victory and the end of privation.
In early 1950's, nylon socks were advertised in major European and American fashion magazine as being "as strong as steel and as delicate as a spider's web". After the long pause of World War II, hosiery manufacturing got its initial impulse throughout the 1950's and 1960's due to great modifications in fashion trends. Lycra or Spendex (with better performance than nylon) was invented in 1959 at the DuPont's Bender Lasboratiry in Virginia. This invention gave birth to pantyhose.
Hosiery is undoubtedly an easy way to significantly alter the appearance of most outfit at minimal cost. Manufacturers are always experimenting with shade, designs, material as well as styles, in accordance with the women desire to experience unique and sometimes unusual designs. China is today's largest producer of hosiery.