NAME: The Knee Tremblers. OR: Those long, long black socks/stockings that afford a searing flash of thigh and are tottering about town on chunky shoes as part of the most popular fashion development to have hit these shores since the high-split cheongsam. NATIONALITY: International, though the fashion has been kicking around for years in Japan. BRIEF HISTORY: Although some may suffer nasty flashbacks of beefy hockey players in long, navy stockings, the knee tremblers more commonly tend to inspire thoughts of school uniforms and even those ads for 'sexy lingerie' catalogues in the Sunday papers. They first started causing male pedestrians to walk into lampposts during the autumn, and really came into their own during December when a cold nip turned the streets of Causeway Bay and Mongkok into seas of mottled blue thighs. Of course, the lunacy of wearing tiny shorts and socks in the middle of winter is in keeping with Hong Kong's approach to fashion - an approach that led to our youngsters wearing layered clothes and heavy Dr Martens during the sweltering summer. NATURAL HABITAT: Everywhere. NO KNEE TREMBLER IS COMPLETE WITHOUT: Substantial shoes, often in suede, a mohair sweater two sizes too small and preferably in scarlet or pink, and goosebumps. STRENGTHS: Comfortable, convenient and attention grabbing. WEAKNESSES: (1) Inferior brands are prone to embarrassing lapses in elasticity (above the knee rapidly becomes below the knee, then a baggy heap around the ankles). (2) Given their popularity, wearers tend to look like members of a Hong Kong knock-off of the fourth form of St Trinians. (3) When they're wrong for you, they're very wrong. FANS SAY: 'Phwoooar!' CRITICS SAY: 'Shouldn't there be some instructions on the package suggesting that if your thighs make a 300-year-old sequoia tree look like a sapling, perhaps these aren't for you?' CULTURAL LEGACY: A nation of men with flattened noses, blackened eyes, loosened teeth and severe upper-body bruising - either from frequent collisions with lampposts or from a girlfriend disapproving of his eyes' wandering ways. BANDWAGON JUMPERS: The people at Hot Sox who put out a ridiculous press release banging on about their MTR poster ads and featuring a 'woman of the '90s' bending over and pulling up a stocking. NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Sheer, flesh-coloured pop socks that stop just below the knees of female people's heroes in China.