By  on October 18, 2010

Dearfoams, the slippers brand launched more than 50 years ago, is diversifying with its first collection of women’s sleepwear.

R.G. Barry Corp., owner and maker of Dearforms, has signed a five-year licensing deal with Olivet International Inc. to manufacture and market sleepwear carrying the label.

The items will retail for $20 to $58 and launch for fall. A Dearfoams line of men’s sleepwear, loungewear and activewear will be introduced for fall 2012, along with cold-weather hats, scarves and mittens for men and women. The goal is to expand the franchise in 2013 to include knitwear and sweaters for men and women, said Nancy Coons, president of Dearfoams.

“We always felt we catered to and were well received by older consumers, 50 and older, but consumer focus groups and feedback from social media told us that we have a strong following of consumers under 45, even 25-year-olds,” Coons said.

The agreement gives Olivet exclusive rights in North and South America to develop and market apparel, sleepwear and accessories with the Dearfoams, DF by Dearfoams, Utopia by Dearfoams and DF Sport labels.

Industry executives estimated the women’s sleepwear could generate annual volume of more than $15 million. The combined men’s and women’s businesses are projected to grow 6 percent by 2013, based on brand recognition and expanded product, Coons said.

Designed and merchandised by Olivet creative director China Young, former vice president of accessories at Gap Inc. and accessories director at Old Navy, the line will include sleep shirts, long sleep tunics, drawstring pants, button-front jackets and easy wrap robes of micro jersey, brushed cotton and Modal blends, and will feature Venice lace trims, embroidered logos and screened images of a mascot Dearfoams dog [a terrier]. There will be fashion colors and prints as well as solid white.

“The idea was to reach out to the next Dearfoams generation, and the intent is to offer the comfort and style of the slippers in sleepwear,” Young said, adding that an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign is planned for the fall launch.

R.G. Barry serves a range of U.S. retailers, from Saks Fifth Avenue to Wal-Mart, with proprietary and licensed brands as well as private label footwear. Distribution of the licensed sleepwear is aimed at mass merchants, department stores and better specialty stores that sell the company’s slippers. The sleepwear will feature exclusive designs for retailers and also will be sold under the Dearfoams brand and several diffusion labels.

Dearfoams slippers were introduced at U.S. department stores in 1958, a product expansion of the first foam-cushion slippers, called Angel Treads, which were created in 1947 by shoulder pad designer Florence Zacks Melton. She was introduced to foam latex during a visit to the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio, when she was looking for materials to use in her garment shoulder pad business. Melton and partners Harry Streim and Florence and Aaron Zacks created R.G. Barry Corp. The $123.7 million company went public in 1962.

Olivet is a 30-year-old privately held trading company with estimated annual volume in excess of $150 million, according to industry sources. It has vertical strengths in sourcing, branding, logistics and analytics and is a specialist in apparel, handbags, backpacks, luggage and bath products.

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