By  on February 24, 1994

NEW YORK -- I. Appel Corp. is out to give to its sleepwear business a lift with an emphasis on updated looks and the addition of imported washable silks and rayons. All this comes with a shift in sourcing.

The moves are expected to nearly double annual volume of the firm's two-year-old Appel Sleepwear division to $10 million this year, said Norman Katz, president of I. Appel.

Until November, the sleepwear division featured traditional styling, domestic fabrics and a lot of 807 production in the Caribbean. To gain the new looks the firm wanted, it began sourcing its fabrications and piece work operations to China and Hong Kong in November and will expand its sourcing network in Mexico in March.

I. Appel will have two manufacturing facilities in Mexico, a two-year-old plant in La Paz and one in Zacatacas that will open next month. The firm also uses its Mexican production for its primary businesses in daywear, loungewear and robes.

The sleepwear division is headed by Marie Monske, who joined the firm in October as the division's vice president and general manager. Patricia Larkin continues as the division's national sales manager and Donna Richard as its designer.

Monske said 60 percent of the sleepwear line currently is sourced overseas (excluding the Caribbean), compared with 20 percent a year ago.

Monske -- who was an executive at May Merchandising Corp. for 25 years and was a general merchandise manager there since 1977 -- said she wants Appel Sleepwear to become known as a "key pajama resource" for major department stores.

"We still want to hold the traditional base of our sleepwear business, but we see the updated looks as the opportunity that will give us the plus business this year," she said.

Monske said younger, contemporary-looking pajamas of woven cotton currently account for 50 percent of Appel Sleepwear business, while sleep gowns and sleep shirts account for 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively. A year ago, sleep gowns constituted 50 percent of the sleepwear line.

In addition to contemporary long and short pajama sets, the updating of the line is reflected in leggings, crop tops, jumpsuits, capris, ruffled bloomers, short and ballet-length Empire sleep gowns and Henley tops that have a layered effect.

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