NEW YORK — A smattering of out-of-town retailers managed to show up at last week’s market amid Election Day jitters.

Traffic was sparse and sporadic, with the exception of a few Madison Avenue showrooms that were busy on Tuesday, including Sara Lee’s Bali and Wonderbra, Maidenform Inc., Movie Star Inc., Richard Leeds International and Dana-Co., the licensee for Natori foundations.

Bob Pawlak, vice president of intimate apparel and coats at Milwaukee-based Carson Pirie Scott, who was spotted at the Movie Star showroom, sized up the turnout: “I’ve never seen anything like it. Usually traveling on Midwest Airlines is like a zoo during market week. There weren’t even any lines at the airport and I walked straight up to the ticket counter. I think some stores were scared to come to New York during Election Day.”

The busiest days were Wednesday and Thursday, said a number of manufacturers. They noted that the bulk of business continued to be completing spring buys and marketing campaigns, as well as merchandise for transitional selling and gift-giving programs for Valentine’s Day and, in some cases, Mother’s Day. And they expect the momentum to continue next week.

While business at retail generally continues to be difficult, daywear, sleepwear and robe makers in particular said they were pleased to see a big demand for plush robes and thermal daywear and underwear. This was an unexpected bonus considering the weather this fall has been generally mild, they said.

In contrast to warm and cozy items in which to sleep and lounge, sex topped buyers’ lists in the foundations arena for spring. Top-booking classifications included:

  • Overtly sexy boudoir fare such as highly embellished corsets with garters and coordinating G-strings.

  • Playful baby dolls, from layered sheer numbers to polyester charmeuse and animal prints.

  • The dual-purpose push-up bustier or Merry Widow that doubles as an evening top.

  • V-shaped undies, a fresh twist to low-rise thongs, string bikinis and tanga styles.

“It’s really been a much more calm market, and the action started on Wednesday,’’ said Sergio Oxman, co-owner and vice president of sales for Miami-based Cosabella. “But it’s also been an in-depth market and we got a lot accomplished. We were able to get projections for 2005 for fall and transitional selling and got a read on new colors.”

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