By  on June 27, 1994

NEW YORK -- From padded push-up bras to cotton knit sleepwear to camisoles to wear with ready-to-wear, innerwear has the ammunition to rack up sales gains this fall.

The bra area has been energized by the introductions this spring of the Wonderbra by Sara Lee Foundations and The Super-Uplift bra by Gossard, and seamless bras are getting more attention as well. Ready-to-wear looks in at-homewear also continue to be important.

"Stores are very enthusiastic about intimate apparel right now," observed Norman Katz, chairman of I. Appel Corp and chairman of the Intimate Apparel Council. Retailers concurred.

Janice Page, group vice president of intimate apparel, accessories and other areas at Sears Roebuck & Co., Chicago, said, "We are running ahead of plan, and expect to continue to run at or ahead through the rest of the year."

Page singled out push-up and demi bras, and fashion colors and prints in all innerwear classifications as top ideas for fall and holiday.

Robin Suvoy, administrator of foundations and sleepwear at Macy's East, said, "We think we have opportunities in the second half based on several changes in the sleepwear business. We are selling a lot of fashion looks in sleepwear, especially in cotton knits, thermals and baby doll looks. We also see an opportunity with dual-purpose loungewear."

She also expects strong interest in push-up bras.

Kim Anderson-Curry, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel at Saks Fifth Avenue, noted that total foundations business has seen "strong double-digit growth" in the first half of 1994, and she expects fall business to be just as healthy.

"The whole push-up category has been explosive," she said. As for sleepwear and robes, she noted, "We're praying for another cold winter and hoping that warmwear categories will be as strong as last year."

Among vendors, Linda J. Wachner, president, chairman and chief executive officer of The Warnaco Group, stated: "I think we'll have a very good second half, and I think [retailers] are going to have very good business over the next six months."

Wachner singled out full-figure bras, push-up bras and two new groups -- sheer bras and panties in cosmetic tones, and a group of updated bras and panties mostly in cotton knit -- as key ideas."We as a Sara Lee Intimates group are expecting roughly a 20 percent increase," said Lee A. Chaden, president and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Intimates, noting shapers, value-priced merchandise and updated styles in underwear should be among the hits.

Citing chemises, dual-purpose pajamas, bodyliners and sheer T-shirts as top fall and holiday items, Josie Natori, president of Natori Co., said, "We expect our daywear and sleepwear business in the U.S. to be 30 percent ahead."

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