NEW YORK -- This week's innerwear market has been living up to moderate expectations.
With the bulk of foundations buying already done for spring and early summer, the showroom traffic, as is typical in January, has been light, but makers of daywear, sleepwear, robes and loungewear said they are getting enough action to keep busy.
Manufacturers reported that merchants were in the market for immediate goods. Reorders of velours, which clicked during holiday selling, were one of the bright spots. Reflecting the ever-growing tendency to buy late, some stores are still completing spring orders as well.
This week is also giving vendors and retailers the chance to evaluate merchandise tested at stores over the holiday selling period, and to preview ideas for fall.
Makers are also promoting special programs, as they usually do in January, mainly to major buying offices. Many offer price incentives, such as 10 percent discounts if fall orders are completed by early March.
Steve Katz, vice president of I. Appel Corp., noted, "Most stores were coming in with report cards [on holiday business]. Christmas selling was mixed at department stores, but many retailers are upbeat about spring and fall."
"Traffic was moderate, but retailers were extremely enthusiastic about new products," said Gabriel N. Hakim Sr., president of Crowntuft Manufacturing, a division of Kellwood Co. "No one is leaving paper this week, but expectations are very high."
The robe manufacturer was primarily previewing fall, and Hakim said the company expects a 25 percent sales increase for the second half.
Hakim said reaction was good to three new groups. In the better-price Stan Herman for Herbcraft line, a group of robes and at-home wear in a heavier-weight cotton chenille, called Ultimate Chenille, was getting attention. In the moderate-price Herbcraft line, the company was spotlighting a group of stonewashed denims and a group of plaid-trim flannels.
Jeanette Cantoni, vice president of marketing and licensing at Natori Co., said she was suprised retailers weren't making price an issue "as long as the value is there."
Taking center stage at Natori were two programs for Mother's Day into transitional selling -- a soft, feminine-looking sleepwear group by Natori, and a group of special value sleepwear by Eve Stillman.Mel Knigin, president of the Cinema Etoile division at Movie Star, said, "Daywear selling has been very good this week, especially suit camisoles of polyester charmeuse, cottons and stretch laces."
Knigin said that in 1993 a 108 percent sales gain was posted over the prior year in the suit camisole classification. Similar gains are expected this year, he said, noting that reorders are strong this week.
Howard Radziminsky, Cinema Etoile's vice president of sales, singled out two sleepwear hits: short and ballet-length slip gowns with Venice lace trim and sheer polyester chiffon baby-dolls with puckered lace bodices.
Polly Berg, owner of Polly Berg Inc., Edina, Minn., said she was attracted to the special incentive programs offered by several robe and loungewear firms for transitional and fall selling.
She said she will order loungewear that features ethnic prints from three brand names: David Brown, Kathleen Usherwood for Periphery, and the licensed Michael Kors At-Home Wear line at Boutique Industries. Loungewear items of crinkle acetate by Ruth Norman also will be ordered, she said.
Shopping the Intimate Apparel Salon trade show at the Doral Tuscany Hotel, Deborah Carr, owner of Cage, a two-unit apparel and lingerie store in Virginia Beach, Va., said she plans to order at-home wear items in woven cottons and natural colors from Lucine Almas.
"My open-to-buy is up 20 percent over last year," she said, noting that the bulk of innerwear orders will focus on innerwear-outerwear looks.
Cathy Michaels, an owner of Katherine's Lingerie, Boonton, N.J., said she will order items from several vendors at the salon show -- loungewear by Under Construction; foundations and daywear by On Gossamer; daywear by Calida, and sleepwear by Romantic Night. Post-mastectomy foundations by Camp International and post-mastectomy sleepwear by Melinda Gros also are on the shopping list, she said.
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