NEW YORK -- Sleepwear makers expect the furor over padded, push-up bras to keep their business hopping next year.

"Our total feeling is that intimate apparel business is very strong right now, and it's due to the cleavage-enhancing mania," said Norman Katz, chairman of I. Appel Corp. and of the Intimate Apparel Council.

"Intimate apparel has come into its own, and major stores are realizing that intimate apparel is a category that should be taken seriously, with more space, displays and advertising."

Katz noted, however, that the demand for more innerwear -- in every category, from bras and shapewear to sleepwear and robes -- has created a dilemma: meeting production and delivery deadlines.

"We are planning sales gains at I. Appel of between 8 percent and 10 percent -- based on what we can produce, not what we can book," he said.

As for the general retailing climate, Katz said expectations were up in all innerwear categories, and the forecast was for increased of 15 to 20 percent in the first half.

He noted that for holiday selling, many major retailers had planned innerwear stocks too low. "We are getting reorders for immediate deliveries every day," he said.

Mel Knigin, president of the Cinema Etoile division of Movie Star Inc., noted, "As of Nov. 30, bookings for our daywear and sleepwear are up 18 percent over a year ago."

Knigin said the number one booking items had "lots of sex appeal."

'For the past three years, everybody said sexy looks would sell for Christmas, and they didn't," said Knigin. "But it's selling now, and anything sexy-looking is on fire. We are seeing big, big increases in that business, especially anything that has a push-up look."

Top-booking items in daywear and sleepwear that Knigin believes will follow through into 1995 include allover stretch lace teddies, camisoles, chemises and little T-shirts. Ballet-length sleep gowns of polyester charmeuse trimmed with sequins and pearls are also expected to be hot.

The top-booking fashion color was gold, said Knigin. "We had projected silver to be the major color, but we were surprised -- gold was the winner," he said.Karyl Chongas, vice president and general manager of the Vanity Fair brand at Vanity Fair Mills, noted, "We are seeing a pickup in our nylon tricot sleepwear business. And we will be focusing not only on traditional, misses' looks in tricot going forward, but we also will be introducing more contemporary looks next year."

Mina Koo, designer and an owner of Mina Koo Inc., singled out texture as the top idea for spring 1995 and for early fall.

"Texture will continue to be very important," said Koo. "The texture story will even be important in reembroidered laces, and floral-pattern laces will be especially important."

The sleepwear hits for spring at Koo's firm include sheer and opaque cotton pointelle knits in young, contemporary looks like rompers and chemises in natural tones, and pastel cotton gauze in shades of pink, lavender and baby blue. Lavender, she said, was the most directional color for early 1995.

The key silhouette in gauze will continue to be trapeze-shape short slips looks, she said. She further noted that there have been "a lot of requests for gold, but in shades that are close to skin tones."

"Very romantic-looking sleepwear in beautiful silk and lace combinations has been in great demand," said Olivia Feldman, a sales representative here for several sleepwear firms. She singled out Treesha, a sleepwear maker from San Rafael, Calif., as a top resource in romantic looks. Key colors are muted pastels in petal pink, peach and pearl.

"Retailers have been asking for the very pretty, romantic looks in silk and lace from upscale vendors," said Feldman.

Sheila Solomon, national sales manager at Priamo Designs Inc., predicted there will be a greater demand for younger-looking, contemporary bridal looks.

"More retailers have been asking for cute, perky bridal looks in cotton knits," said Solomon. "A lot of brides today, especially the younger brides, don't want to wear what mama wore."

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