The stockings are one of the oldest industrially manufactured article of clothing. Before the loom the first knitting machine was developed in England. The first customers for these stockings were however not ladies, but gentlemen. Until the French Revolution knee-breeches were usual in elevated circles, but always in combination with knee-highs.
The stockings quickly got famous in the women's world. With large engangement engineers all over the world pursued to manufacture perfect stockings. These stockings were always silken till the 30┤s. Besides this valuable raw material the technical challenges were likewise expensive: Each small progress was thoroughly patented and licenced afterwards. Only with the invention of nylon it was possible that almost any woman could afford fine stockings.
Even if fine stockings were more expensive than silk stockings (a pair of nylons cost the monthly salary of an apprentice), the success could not be stopped any longer. Today stockings or strap-ons are on the fringes in women's clothing. Viewed by men stockings are erotic. Many women still feel more cpmfortable with practical stockings.
More to the topic: Leggings