To talk about the history of fishnets it is necessary to talk about the history of stockings.
The first record of the use of stockings comes from Mesopotamia, where they were used by soldiers and were made of cotton and wool to keep the cold away, with a seam on the back that made it easier for soldiers to ride. Until then, stockings were used only out of necessity.
In the 14th century, stockings began to be used as a garment that lavished wealth and power. They came to be used by European noble men, who competed for the best embroidery and materials.
In the middle of the 18th century, stockings started to be produced in rayon and silk, materials that were considered too delicate for the use of men. Gradually, they started to stop being part of the male clothing and passed to the female one.
The appearance of the fishnet came in the 19th century and its first impact came with the Can Can dancers in Paris, France. For them, the fishnets were much better than the usual stockings, since they allowed their bodies to sweat better and their movements to be looser.
Despite the success with the dancers, the fishnet stockings were considered of extreme bad taste among the common population of the time because they showed parts of the skin that should not be exposed by women with good manners.
The first reinterpretation of the fishnets was presented by the pin-up fashion of the 1940s and 1950s. And at this time, despite still going against the conventions of the time, the fishnets ended up becoming a great success.
The next time they were used as part of a rebellious wardrobe was with the punk movement. After punk, they reappeared in mainstream media in the 1980s with the singer Madonna, who wore not only fishnet stockings, but fishnet tops as well.
Since then, fishnets have not been so shocking. They are still revisited and are common especially in street style nowadays. On the catwalks, the fishnet is seen not only in the form of stockings, but also as blouses, dresses and others.
Bibliography: Allan, Georgina O’Hara; Fashion Encyclopedia: From 1840 to the 1990s: Companhia das Letras, 2010.