I. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A. Field of Invention
The present invention generally relates to women's hosiery. Some embodiments include pantyhose having a reinforced split toe, suitable for wearing with thong sandals.
B. Description of the Related Art
Currently, women's hosiery includes articles having an undivided toe region that accepts all of the toes into the same region. While this is suitable of many applications, such articles do not permit the wearer to comfortably wear shoes having a thong structure. Furthermore, such thong structures are common in many summer shoes such as sandals. Therefore, women who wish to wear shoes having a thong structure are generally precluded from also wearing articles of hosiery such as nylons or pantyhose. Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an article of hosiery having a suitably durable split toe structure.
The present invention provides a split toe hosiery article. Some embodiments include a reinforced split toe structure.
II. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Some embodiments of the present invention relate to
Other benefits and advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which it pertains upon reading and understanding of the following detailed specification.
III. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention may take physical form in certain parts and arrangement of parts, embodiments of which will be described in detail in this specification and illustrated in the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof and wherein:
FIG. 1 is a drawing of one embodiment comprising a pair of pantyhose having a plurality of split toes.
FIG. 2 is a close-up view of a foot portion of one embodiment having a plurality of split toes.
FIG. 3 is a drawing of an embodiment comprising a split toe structure having a reinforcing structure disposed between two toes.
IV. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
As used herein the term "nylons" describing a type of women's hosiery does not indicate a material from which the hosiery is fabricated. For example, the phrase "a pair of nylons" does not indicate that the hosiery is made from a nylon composition. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that nylon is only one of a variety of materials from which the hosiery commonly known as "nylons" can be fabricated. Accordingly, when used to indicate a type of hosiery, the term "nylon" or "nylons" includes all suitable compositions.
The present invention generally relates to articles of women's hosiery comprising a woven fabric main portion and a split toe suitable for receiving a thong structure. Some embodiments can include a reinforcing structure disposed in the split toe region for enhancing the durability of the split toe structure. Some embodiments may also include a comfort structure disposed on an inward-facing, i.e. skin-facing, surface of the reinforcing structure to protect the wearer from chaffing and/or abrasion.
According to one embodiment, a woven fabric main portion includes at least one open end and at least one closed end. The open end is adapted to receive the wearer's foot and/or leg thereby enabling the wearer to apply the article to her body. The closed end defines a toe region and is adapted to receive a plurality of toes. In some embodiments, the toe region can be divided into a plurality of discrete toe regions, wherein each toe region is adapted to receive at least one toe. For example, in some embodiments, the toe region may be divided into two discrete regions where a first region is adapted to receive a first toe, and a second region is adapted to receive each of the other toes. In other embodiments, the toe region can be divided into five discrete toe regions, wherein each toe region is adapted to receive one toe. One of skill in the art will appreciate that there are any of a wide variety of acceptable way to divide a toe region, and each of these is within the scope of the present invention.
Some embodiments include articles of hosiery comprising women's stockings. According to these embodiments, each of a wearer's legs can be individually fitted with a stocking article, and the stockings are not attached to each other. In some embodiments the stocking articles can receive and cover at least a portion of the wearer's foot. In other embodiments the stocking article can additionally receive and cover at least a portion of the wearer's calf. In still other embodiments, the stocking article can additionally receive and cover at least a portion of the wearer's thigh. In still other embodiments, the stocking article comprises a pair of pantyhose.
In some embodiments, a plurality of toe regions can be defined, at least in part, by including a toe divider in an article of hosiery. A toe divider can comprise any of a variety of suitable structures that function to separate the toe region into a plurality of discrete toe regions. Some toe dividers can comprise a portion of the stocking fabric extending from the woven fabric main portion and defining at least one divider. For example, in such embodiments the divider can be continuous with the woven fabric main portion and can comprise the same material. Thus, in this embodiment the divider and the woven fabric main portion comprise a single woven article.
In other embodiment, a divider can comprise one or more pieces of fabric that are distinct from the woven fabric main portion. In such embodiments, the divider may be attached to the main portion by any of a variety of suitable means including, without limitation, weaving, sewing, or knitting the divider fabric into the main portion fabric; or adhesively or thermally bonding the divider to the main portion. In these embodiments, the divider can comprise a fabric having the same composition as the main portion, or a different composition. Furthermore, the divider can comprise a variety of structures including, without limitation, a fabric layer, a plurality of fabric layers, and at least two fabric layers having a padded filling between the at least two layers.
In one embodiment, a dividing structure can include a reinforcing member adapted to extend over at least a portion of the divider region. In one embodiment, the article of hosiery, including a plurality of toe regions, substantially comprises a relatively weak fabric. The relatively weak fabric is reinforced by, for example, attaching a relatively strong reinforcing member to the toe-dividing region. In some embodiments, the reinforcing member can be disposed on an inward-facing, i.e. skin-facing, surface of the article. In other embodiments, the reinforcing member can be disposed on an outward-facing surface of the article. In still other embodiments, a reinforcing member can be disposed on both an inner and an outer surface of the article, thereby forming a sandwich structure, wherein the reinforcing members enclose a region of relatively weak fabric. Furthermore, the reinforcing members of a sandwich structure can comprise materials that differ from one another. For instance, a skin-facing member can comprises a material that is more suitable for direct skin contact, and possibly less strong. Similarly, an outward-facing member of a sandwich structure can comprise a material that is more durable, and possibly less suitable for direct skin contact.
Referring now to the drawings wherein the showings are for purposes of illustrating embodiments of the invention only and not for purposes of limiting the same, FIG. 1 is a drawing of an embodiment 100 comprising pantyhose. The embodiment includes a waist band 120, a pair of leg portions 130, 132, and a pair of foot portions 110, 112. FIG. 1 also shows a toe region having a plurality of splits 140 forming discrete toe regions. FIG. 2 is a close-up drawing of two foot portions of an embodiment 200. This embodiment includes a plurality of splits forming discrete toe regions, such as toe region 210.
FIG. 3 is a schematic drawing of an embodiment 300 showing a toe reinforcing member 310. The reinforcing member is disposed on the hosiery between toe region 330 and 332. A gap 320 is shown separating toe regions 330 and 332. According to this embodiment, the reinforcing member conforms to the contours of a wearer's foot. Furthermore, the reinforcing member is adapted to receive a component of a foot garment, such as thong of a shoe. The reinforcing member 310 functions as a mechanical barrier between the component (e.g. thong) and the underlying hosiery fabric, which is relatively delicate. Thus, the split toe structure enables the wearer to comfortably wear hosiery with a wider variety of shoes than would otherwise be possible. Furthermore, the reinforcing member guards the split toe from wear, and lengthens the useful life of the hosiery garment.
The embodiments have been described, hereinabove. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the above methods and apparatuses may incorporate changes and modifications without departing from the general scope of this invention. It is intended to include all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.