By  on June 23, 2008


Vendors said tough economic times prompted merchants to size up the key bra they believed would be the must-have item in a woman's lingerie wardrobe.

Although financial woes have taken a toll on consumer spending and buyers' budgets, foundations firms that specialize in bras said merchants were conservative with major buys, which were mainly replenishable basics. At the same time, retailers were hedging their bets on two fronts: basic underwire and wire-free bras and coordinating undies that had a touch of fashion such as minimal embroideries, lace detailing, strap treatments and sexy-looking underwire and unconstructed bras that had a strong fashion spin.

The most popular-booking basic bras were seamless, contoured styles primarily in nude tones, while the top-booking fashion bras with matching panties featured a palette of dazzling colors such as fuchsia, red, turquoise, yellow, mint, anthracite, crocodile brown, black and white in allover lace, cross-dyed laces and micro blends, with special effects like fancy embroideries, petite bows, satin trim and double-strap treatments.

Here, a look at some of the best-booking "It" bras and undies for spring.

Brand: Jezebel's Hugs and Kisses lace overlay push-up bra with lip-shaped bump pads and allover lace boy-cut briefs.

Retail: $29 for the bra; $18 for the cheeky boy-cut brief.

Colors: Black, white and red.

Sizes: 34A to 38D.

Bookings: 700 major department and specialty stores and Web sites.

Comment: "It embodies fun and fashion that Jezebel is all about in a minimal coverage push-up bra," said Robert Zarabi, president and chief executive officer of Felina Lingerie Inc. "The lace is light and trendy and takes fashion colors very well."

Brand: The Wild Bunch by Wacoal, a seamless animal-pattern bra and matching micro nylon hipster.

Retail: $62 for the bra; $28 for the hipster.

Colors: Tawny tiger, creamy croc and snow leopard.

Sizes: 32B to 38DD.

Bookings: 900 major department and specialty doors and Web sites.

Comment: "The animal-jacquard pattern was very well received because it's different looking," said Bob Vitale, vice president of merchandising and sales at Wacoal America. "But what really makes this a great style is it's a great day-in, day-out basic style that has fabric interest that provides a customer a reason to buy."
Brand: Josie Natori's Peony Cami Bra and coordinating cross-dyed lace thong.

Retail: $78 for the bra; $46 for the thong.

Colors: Cafe brown, black, wild orchid and mermaid green.

Sizes: 32A to 36DD.

Bookings: 400 major department and specialty stores and Web sites.

Comment: "I feel this is our 'It' bra because it offers a two-for-one benefit," said Josie Natori, ceo of Natori Co. "The consumer is able to get the look of a Josie Natori camisole top as well as a bra all at the same time at a very affordable price. And it's done in luxe-looking cross-dyed leavers lace."

Brand: Le Mystère's Lolita Strapless Bra from the No. 9 collection and matching micro string thong.

Retail: $76 for the bra; $28 for the thong.

Colors: Black, natural and white.

Sizes: 30C to 36F.

Bookings: 500 major department and specialty stores and Web sites.

Comment: "People love the sophisticated styling as the bra features satin accents and decorative straps," said Jessica Pfister, New York director of Le Mystère. "The Lolita features a specially developed bump pad for full strapless support without adding additional volume."

Brand: Cosabella's Talco Wireless Bra for Travel & Yoga and coordinating string thong of cotton and Lycra spandex.

Retail: $70 for the bra; $18 for the low-rider string thong.

Colors: Sand, nude, heather gray, red, hot pink, yellow, green, black and white.

Sizes: Petite and S,M,L.

Bookings: 450 major department and specialty stores and Web sites, 300 of which are in the U.S.

Comment: "The Talco Wireless Bra was designed with comfort, versatility and the active lifestyle in mind," said Valeria Campello, ceo of Cosabella. "It offers innovative padding that's exceptionally breathable, ultralight and antibacterial. It's a new air-driven system that creates the feel and look of padding but can be flattened and rolled up."

Brand: Va Bien's Ultra-Lift Balconette T-Shirt Bra with matching nylon and Lycra thong.Retail: $49 for the bra; $16 for the thong.

Colors: Black and nude.

Sizes: 32C to 38G.

Bookings: 200 major specialty stores and Web sites.

Comment: "Many buyers requested that we produce a T-shirt bra using the ultralift concept for year-round sales," said Gregory Gimble, vice president of Va Bien International Inc. "It incorporates the patented 'Magic Fingers' into a balconette-cut style with wide straps for comfort."

Brand: Felina's Jennifer gel enhancer push-up bra with convertible straps and matching bikini of nylon and Lycra.

Retail: $42 for the bra; $18 for the hi-cut panty.

Colors: Black, fawn, copper.

Sizes: 32A to 38D.

Bookings: 400 major department and specialty stores and Web sites.

Comment: "It's seamless with a lightweight demi gel pad which provides enhancement and extra cleavage, so it's a great T-shirt bra," said Felina Lingerie's Zarabi. "It can be worn as a halter, crisscross back or backless with an additional attachment we provide."

From top left: Jezebel's Hugs and Kisses bra; The Wild Bunch set by Wacoal; Josie Natori's Peony Cami Bra; Le Mystère's Lolita Strapless Bra; Cosabella's Talco Wireless Bra; Va Bien's Ultra-Lift Balconette T-Shirt Bra; Felina's Jennifer bra.

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