By  on April 7, 1994

NEW YORK -- Minus three big chains that participated in the past, Lingerie Week, which starts Sunday at stores around the country, will be dramatically smaller than originally expected.

The Intimate Apparel Council had projected "huge increases" in the number of participating retail doors this year, but the defection of some 2,500 doors of chain and mass merchandisers has shrunk the number of retailer participants in the event to 1,000 doors.

The retailers who have pulled out of Lingerie Week are J.C. Penney, Kmart and Wal-Mart Stores, according to Norman Katz, chairman of the IAC, a co-sponsor, with DuPont, of this yearly promotion, which is geared to in-store events.

Katz, who is also chairman of I. Appel Corp., said these retailers did not want to support the event with a full-price policy. Last year, there appeared to be general agreement among participating stores that Lingerie Week would feature full-price merchandise. This year, Katz said, the chains disagreed.

"It's been a rough birth," he added.

The consumer promotion at stores was developed five years ago, with the aim of generating additional interest in innerwear, culminating in a big payoff for Mother's Day selling.

Last year, some 3,500 doors of major specialty and department stores, chains and mass merchandisers took part.

Katz further complained that officials at Kmart, Wal-Mart, and Penney's did not advise the IAC of its intentions not to participate until a couple of weeks ago.

Penney's had taken part in Lingerie Week for three years, and Kmart and Wal-Mart for two years.

Officials at the three firms could not be reached for comment.

In another cutback for the promotion, the traditional opening night party for participating vendors, hosted by the IAC and DuPont, will not be held. This year it was scheduled for Tuesday night at Bloomingdale's.

"There's been a decrease of funding, and there was a need to redistribute the funds that DuPont gave us this year to other special events for Lingerie Week," said the IAC spokeswoman. She would not give figures.

Officials at DuPont could not be reached for comment. Katz and a spokeswoman for Bloomingdale's also noted that the party conflicted with other events scheduled for the store's upper management.

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