We manufacture the famous Gio/Debut brands of hosiery and are long established Fully Fashioned and seam free knitters in Derbyshire, England.
Why choose our hosiery?
We manufacture authentic ranges of Fully Fashioned (seamed) and Reinforced Heel and Toe (seamless) stockings on original Reading knitting machines. We are one of the last remaining companies in the world to knit Fully Fashioned stockings on these authentic machines just as they were made in the 1960’s, only a handful remain operational in the world today. Our stockings are shipped around the world to people who appreciate the quality and skill that goes into producing each pair. Gio stockings are unique, 100% Nylon and made by a skilled team in our factory in England. If you are looking for unrivalled quality and authentic hosiery you have come to the right place. These Nylon stockings will complete your look whilst giving you a touch of elegance and class. What range of hosiery do we manufacture?
We are pleased to be able to offer a large selection of different stocking styles including 4 authentic Fully Fashioned Heel styles: Cuban, Point, Havana and Manhattan. We pride ourselves on excellent quality which is monitored throughout the manufacturing process. Our Reinforced Heel and Toe (RHT) stockings are knitted on original Pendolina knitting machines and are a popular option for people wanting the 1950’s look without the back seam. All of our stockings are made from 100% Nylon and are 15 denier. We also manufacture opaque Tights which are made on our Fully Fashioned Reading machines and are a perfect warmer option for the colder weather. All of our hosiery is made in our factory in Derbyshire, England by a team of experienced knitters, seamers and finishing technicians who join together to make the popular hosiery which is known and loved around the world.
(Many thanks to Doris Ball for her video and her authorisation to feature it on our website).
OUR STORY First introduced from the United States in the 1940’s Fully Fashioned Nylons were the ultimate gift from a man to his sweetheart and have remained unrivalled in this enduring quality ever since. These iconic and evocative hosiery products are still being lovingly made on a handful of Reading Fully Fashioned knitting machines of which the Gio brand products are knitted on some of the last frames to be built by Textile Machine Work USA prior to their closure in the mid 1960’s.
Throughout the post war years Textile Machine Works shipped these 57 foot, 17 ton, 30 section straight bar machines to hosiery companies throughout the British Isles in wooden cases for erection on site. These factories included household names such as Pretty Polly; I&R Morley; Wolsey and Aristoc. At that time Aristoc were the market leaders and former owners of the four Gio Reading R100 machines on which the luxurious “Harmony Point” stockings were knitted for nearly two decades at their Langley Mill facility.
The Reading machines later variants of the 1950’s onward, built in Reading Pennsylvania, were the pinnacle of German engineering melded with American mass production techniques recently honed by wartime needs. These machines were designed and built by a company that knew no bounds to technical innovation and excellence born of the brilliant founder Herr Thon, a German immigrant engineer. Such was the domination of this precision engineered equipment and so innovative were its features that patents were issued in protection of the automatic welt turn equipment and constant hose draw off mechanisms, both of which were totally revolutionary at the time and now adopted by Fully Fashion outerwear machine producers of the time such as Bentley Cotton and Samco.
With the dawning of the age of seam free knitting in the 1960’s the Reading R80 machines were radically re engineered changing the stitch formation motion to a shorter variant thus increasing knitting speeds from 80 to 100 drawn courses per minute; these last phase machines were known as the R100 and few were built before the unequal battle with the flood of seam free production was acknowledged and Textile Machine Works was effectively sold and became Berkshire Hosiery Mills in 1965.
During the latter part of the millennium all but a handful of these irreplaceable machines were scrapped and only 10 remain worldwide today that are in working order.
Gio Fully Fashioned stockings are produced using the finest yarns to exacting standard in traditional methods to perfectly replicate the look and feel of vintage nylons and are indistinguishable from period production. Each stocking is examined throughout the manufacturing process and steamed to shape using 1950’s Heliot steam boarding machines for a perfect packed and counter appearance. Such is the renaissance of interest in Fully Fashion stockings that undisputedly make an unparalleled statement of elegance and sophistication. The product is now heralded as a classic and here to stay way into the future with enthusiastic support worldwide for the few remaining brands, each appealing to specific markets.
What is now one of the most modern factories of fine gauge Reading machines remaining was embryonic in 1975 with the purchase of three Reading R80 machines by Frank Wilkinson. Frank, a Fully Fashioned technician trained by Reading erectors returned from service in 1945 at Wolsey Kimberley. A successful businessman by this time, he had been apprenticed to build Reading R80 machines shipped directly from Textile Machine Works, under the Marshall plan and badged ‘for European Recovery’ and recognised the opportunity these machines presented.
Frank lovingly restored these R80 machines to factory settings and re commissioned one of them to make 15 denier monofilament stockings and the other two for knitting of 140 denier Debut Regulation Fully Fashioned Ballet Tights – which they still produce today. The 15 denier monofilament product was, whilst popular at the time, even then dated technology giving a harsh and unforgiving feel being discontinued in 1982 when the market price fell to £6.72 a dozen! At this time only Aristoc continued to produce Fully Fashioned stockings in any volume and continued to do so until the end of the decade.
Then followed a quirk of fate in that Frank’s son bought the former Aristoc site at Langley Mill for redevelopment in 1993 when Courtaulds were rationalising manufacturing. In this factory were the last six, of which there were once over 100 Reading R100 machines still set up as ‘Harmony Point’. Where the factory stood on North Street there is now a housing estate but four of the Reading’s survived and were installed with the original two R80 51 gauge at Loscoe Derbyshire where they remain today.
The current owners of immaculate Reading machines and licensed brand name users are the grandchildren of Frank - carrying on a family tradition for the next generation and proudly producing exquisite Fully Fashioned and seam free Gio and Debut branded products now sold in every continent through a network of authorised vendors.