NEW YORK — Fashion, not price, will be the big issue at next week’s blockbuster market.
A renewed interest in quality merchandise, as well as innovative fabrics and fresh colors, is beginning to surface after several seasons of haggling over sharper price points and promotional programs.
The pressure of price incentives — which produce higher profit margins for retailers but often leave manufacturers wringing their hands — had intensified since the beginning of the year and became a contentious issue between merchants and vendors, industry executives said. However, a majority of makers believe the incessant bartering will begin to taper off for holiday and spring selling and an acceptance of value and fashion is expected to prevail.
The main reason for the sea change is that consumers have not been buying commodity-type merchandise, especially sleepwear, robes and at-homewear that have little pizzazz or sex appeal. In other words, consumers want to be wooed and entertained with items that not only make them feel and look good, but are aspirational and offer a hipper fashion edge.
Retailers are apparently getting the message, and Madison Avenue showrooms are booked with appointments from buyers as well as senior management, several manufacturers said. Officials at two lingerie trade shows here — Lingerie Americas and Intima America — also note they expect a strong turnout of department and specialty stores as well as merchants representing catalogues and e-commerce businesses.
That’s where the celebrity connection comes into play. The impact of JLo Lingerie by Jennifer Lopez at The Warnaco Group has ignited a desire for brand names that are glamorous and famous, thus making the consumer feel sexy and desirable. The newest celebrity addition to the world of lingerie is the licensed Pamela Anderson Intimates line at Vandale Industries, which hits stores in September. Now it’s just a matter of time until the star dust from other glam names like Christina Aguilera, Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson settles on lingerie liaisons.
In the meantime, there’s one other niche that is being viewed as having untapped potential — sleepwear and at-homewear for women over 40 who want to maintain a youthful image, but can no longer fit into junior styles. At the same time, this consumer segment refuses to bow to tradition and wear matronly looks.
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