By  on July 17, 2009

NEW YORK — Bloomingdale’s will devote some of its floor space this fall to showcase not just a new brand, but a specific fiber.

The high-end retailer has agreed to introduce an in-store shop concept exclusively featuring a collection of apparel made from Supima, the brand of extra-long staple cotton grown in the U.S. The fiber is generically known as pima cotton.

The Bloomingdale’s flagship here on 59th Street will launch the concept in September near its men’s department with a collection of T-shirts, henleys, hoodies and other luxury basics. Following the launch at the flagship, Supima in-store shops will open in Bloomingdale’s SoHo location here and then on to 16 stores across the country.

Buxton Midyette, marketing director for Supima, said all the items in the collection will be Supima-branded product.

“It’s a first for us and it’s a first, as far as I know, for any fiber company,” said Midyette. “Instead of an ingredient brand, we’ll be a full-fledged brand.”

David Fisher, Bloomingdale’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager for men’s and kids, said the retailer is approaching the project as a traditional consumer product launch. The final design and layout of the in-store shop is still being worked on, but Fisher said the presentation will emphasize the history of pima cotton and Supima’s American roots.

“In times like this you have to think about cobranding and cross-branding to offer the customer the best value for the dollar and I think this does that,” said Fisher.

The goal will be to expand the Supima apparel brand into from knits into more categories, including underwear and slacks.

“It’s a great opportunity to tell our story and we think we tell it best through beautiful product,” said Midyette.

Pima cotton in the U.S. is grown primarily in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, and is significantly more expensive than conventional cotton. In recent years, farmers in those states have opted to shift to crops capable of generating higher profits, such as corn, soybeans and almonds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates than 168,700 acres of pima cotton were planted for the 2008 crop year, a decline of 41.4 percent from the 288,100 acres planted in 2007 and the lowest acreage figure since 2000.

There is little indication that conditions have improved. For the week ended July 9, the number of 480-pound bales of U.S. pima sold for export stood at 213,200, compared with 830,500 bales sold for export during the same period last year.

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