HOT STUFF: DENIM AND T'S

Byline: Alice Welsh

NEW YORK--Two words sum up spring junior retail business: denim and T-shirts. A few other items--feminine dresses, short satin skirts and cotton and spandex sweaters are checking--but compared to denim and T-shirts, they account for little.
At J.C. Penney & Co., novelty denim items are hot, including shorts from Levi Strauss for $36, Squeeze's denim shortalls for $24.99 and scooter skirts from Arizona and Squeeze for $24.99. T-shirts are the other big category--Arizona striped T-shirts for $12.99 and Jalate and Coolwear embroidered and appliqued baby T-shirts for $16, according to a spokeswoman for the company.
Bloomingdale's is also checking denim and baby T-shirts, according to Fran Horowitz, divisional merchandise manager. Top sellers are baby T-shirts from Us Boys, Knitworks and Full Circle from $16 to $24 and Guess's stretch denim jeans for $60 and hip-hugger jeans from Levi's for $54.
Spring looks selling well at Sears, Roebuck & Co. include several dress styles with an opening price point of $29.99, in cream and pastel colorations with feminine accents, according to a company spokeswoman. "Anything with a sunflower pattern and denim-related looks including rompers are booking, as are baby T-shirts at $9.99, sold alone or paired with a jumper or slipdress."
At Macy's West, the three top items are a long denim vest from Breaker for $30, a CK logo T-shirt at $20 and a long satin slipdress by All That Jazz for $59.99 in black or gold, according to a company spokeswoman.
For Up Against the Wall, a junior specialty store chain in the Washington, D.C., area, the spring color story is black and white, said Wendy Red, fashion director. "Spring hasn't been that great, but there are a lot of hot items," said Red. Those include Free People's knit tops with banded collars priced in the mid teens, satin skirts and hip-huggers from Serious in the high 20s, long floral bias-cut skirts from Tramp and wide-leg polyester pants.
At Mervyn's, denim shorts are a hot item from Jou Jou and Levi's priced at $16 to $27.99. Knits are also a strong category, including ribbed mock turtleneck sleeveless and short-sleeve cotton and spandex T-shirts from private label and Gravitate for $6.99, said a spokesman for the company.
Also performing are private label ribbed short sleeve sweaters in cotton and spandex with scoop neck for $16 and cotton and spandex cropped baby T-shirts for $7.99.
Barbara Fields, owner of the junior buying office of the same name here and in Los Angeles, said specialty store retailers are reporting strong sales in denim items, including sleeveless vests, scooter skirts, shortalls and overalls. Other styles doing well are satin tie-front tops, dresses combining denim with challis prints, shiny rayon knit sweaters and long printed moss crepe skirts.

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