First, compression stockings in general are more expensive than regular stockings because they are considered a medical device. As such, they are subject to rigorous testing and must meet strict standards of performance. In order for socks to be medically effective they must have true graduated compression, which means a higher amount of compression at the ankle that decreases up the leg.
Within the category of graduated compression hosiery you can still find enormous price differences. The low priced options are private label brands like Allegro and economy lines from the major manufacturers like Jobst Relief. On the high end are premium lines like Jobst UltraSheer, Mediven Plus, and Juzo Soft.
All of the major compression garment manufacturers offer a line of hosiery at a lower price point. Jobst’s economy line is called Relief, Mediven Assure, Sigvaris is Access and Basic is the Juzo low-price option. They are cheaper because they are made with less expensive fibers which may not have as much “strechiness” and may not be as pliable making them harder to don, and often don’t have the soft, smooth touch of the premium stockings. Sizing options and colors are often limited. It is important to note that the economical stockings still offer the same compression level, medical efficacy, and are generally as durable.
The premium lines, like Jobst UltraSheer and Medi’s Sheer & Soft, can be very sheer and quite durable because of the quality, strength, and thinness of the fibers. The premium men’s socks may have a better grade of cotton or use more expensive synthetics that improve comfort and temperature control. They may also have additives such as lanolin or silver for anti-microbial properties. The silicone bands on the thigh highs are usually of better quality which improves the garment’s ability to stay in place. Premium products are also available in a greater selection of colors and styles.
There is no question that you will pay more for the premium brand label. These companies invest quite a lot of money in research and development, testing, and quality control. They also maintain a huge sales force to call on medical professionals and their marketing expenses are quite high.
Private label products such as BrightLife Direct’s Allegro are generally the best value. One way to think of Allegro is as a generic version of a name brand alternative. Private label stockings are usually made with the same knitting equipment and also have the same medical efficacy and durability. We buy Allegro in very large quantities from a hosiery mill that also makes product for the name brand manufacturers. Since BrightLife Direct has no outside sales force, uses inexpensive packaging, and buys directly from the factories, we are able to offer similar quality product at a greatly reduced price.