By  on April 14, 1994

NEW YORK -- Hosiery manufacturers are jumping into television shopping with both feet.

Some have chosen to distinguish themselves from the sea of product in the legwear market by targeting a specific audience or promoting a special angle.

Those testing this new venue include:

  • Alba-Waldensian, with a line of queen-size hosiery.
  • Kayser-Roth Corp., with a new label developed exclusively for TV home shopping.
  • Take the Lead...and Step Into a Better World, which plans to offer its environmental line of socks on a TV shopping program.
For its TV venture, Alba-Waldensian, Valdese, N.C., is manufacturing a special line of queen-size hosiery under the Carole Shaw Collection label. It was tested on the Home Shopping Network on March 23, as an addition to the large-size designer's ready-to-wear collection. The hosiery line, designed as an accessory to the rtw, will be offered next on an HSN program in May.

Shaw, based in Los Angeles, founded the magazine and brand name Big Beautiful Woman (BBW), and Alba-Waldensian has been producing the BBW lines of hosiery and intimate apparel sold in catalogs and stores for eight years. Hosiery under the Carol Shaw Collection label, however, is sold only through HSN.

"The initial quantity bought for the launch sold out within the first several minutes on the air," said Robert Fumento, president of the consumer products division of Alba-Waldensian, although he wouldn't disclose the number sold. "On the program, Carol presents her products and speaks as a proponent of fashion in large sizes."

The legwear also promotes comfort because, unlike traditional large-size hosiery, it is knitted in one piece to allow more cross-stretch. In addition, it does not use sewn-in panels.

Multipacks of four basic day sheers in beige or fashion colors sold for $9.95 in the first showing, said Fumento. Changes in pricing and packaging are in the works for a return to HSN in May, but he said the price point will stay under $10. "I think it's important to have a tie-in with a targeted consumer when it comes to a hosiery launch," said Fumento. "In many ways, the large-size market is untapped. With the success of Carole Shaw's apparel, the addition of hosiery was a natural progression."Because the line is sold only through HSN, Fumento said, there is no conflict with retailers carrying the related BBW collections.

"BBW is the vehicle that introduced Shaw to the consumer, but we treat this new line as a separate entity since it is not available at regular retail outlets," he said.

"Although television is an important means of distribution, I doubt it will replace traditional retailing," he added. "Manufacturers want to be exposed in as many venues as possible."

Gary Malloch, president and chief operating officer of Kayser-Roth Corp., Greensboro, N.C., agrees.

The firm has developed a line called Legacy Legwear exclusively for QVC. It made its debut on the channel's Fashion Day program on March 15 and sold over 13,000 packages, according to Kayser-Roth. Each package included four pairs of Body Shaper hosiery at $18.18.

"Kayser-Roth has a program for food, drug and discount stores and a program for the department and specialty store groups," said Malloch. "Now, this venture with QVC is a new opportunity for us to cater to the consumer who shops through television purchasing."

The Legacy line will be offered during regular QVC programming and featured on other special fashion programs such as "Monday Morning Fashion." It can be purchased seven days a week, 24 hours a day by calling QVC's toll-free number.

Since the Legacy launch, a sheer and a support garment have been added to the product mix, and Malloch said there are plans to further expand offerings.

The new brand is QVC's first branded legwear line. It is also Kayser-Roth's first foray into the electronic retail market. Take the Lead, a 1 1/2-year-old firm in Fort Lee, N.J., is scheduled to be featured late this summer on the Joan Rivers syndicated TV shopping show "Can We Shop?" said company chairman Dominic Kulik.

Take the Lead, which donates 10 percent of all profits to charitable organizations that help children and the environment, is part of the show's roster of cause-related companies.

Although a specific date has not been set, Eric Tohlman, a consultant for cause-related marketing for the show, confirmed that Take the Lead would be a featured vendor on the program in a seven-minute segment. Kulik will present the product line of socks and T-shirts in blends with recycled or organic cotton, in an informal dialog with Rivers.The line is carried by stores such as Nordstrom, Dayton Hudson, A&S, Burdines, Rich's and Bon Marche.

"In terms of product, we go a lot deeper with our department store accounts," said Kulik. "They take the time and give the attention to tell the line's story with a more varied product mix. You just can't do that for TV. The package has to be very simple because the TV shopper makes a quick, impulsive decision."

Kulik said he considers the single television appearance as a sort of support program for retail accounts, in exposing the consumer to the product.

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