Byline: K.M.

NEW YORK--San Francisco Mercantile Co. has entered into a licensing agreement with Biflex International to produce a collection of foundations under the Eileen West label.
Designer Eileen West said the new venture will "give us the opportunity to do a lot more fashion."
"There will be much more coordination between the foundations and the sleepwear collections," she added. "This also gives us the opportunity to diversify the line both in fabrics and price points."
San Francisco Mercantile, as reported, had taken over the designing, merchandising and marketing for the line of foundations under the Eileen West label in January. The firm had a six-year-old licensing pact with Vanity Fair Mills that expires at the end of 1996.
"We have a three-party arrangement that allows for a seamless transition," said Laney Thornton, chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based sleepwear and dress firm. "There will be an overlap period covered by a mutual understanding by all parties involved.
"There currently will be a continuous flow of merchandise to stores and a seamless support for the Eileen West replenishment basics."
The wholesale sales projection for the licensed Eileen West products for 1997--the first full year of the deal--is between $8 million and $10 million, said Dale Darmante, president of Biflex. Volume for this year, starting in June, is expected to be $3.5 million.
Biflex, based in Moonachie, N.J., is a privately held, 50-year-old company that makes foundations by Berlei, as well as private label foundations. Its volume for the fiscal year ended June 30 totaled $40 million, said Darmante.
Industry estimates place 1995 wholesale volume of Eileen West foundations at $5 million. Annual wholesale revenues for the combined Eileen West sleepwear and dresses is $35 million, said Thornton.
Eileen West foundations will continue to be shown at the Eileen West showroom here at 1450 Broadway.
Vanity Fair executives could not be reached Friday.

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