NEW YORK — Branded sportswear manufacturers need to keep looking over their shoulders at private labels, which gained more ground in 2003.

Brands owned and sold exclusively by a single retailer, also known as private labels, accounted for 42 percent of all women’s and men’s sportswear sold last year — making for sales of $28.4 billion. At an average price of $18.09, this translates into 1.57 billion units sold.

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