Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK--With the August legwear market shifting into high gear this week, the parade of product introductions continues as vendors look to turn up sales.
While some are counting on new casual items to improve business, others are focusing on thigh-highs and other fashion looks. There is also a redraft of some sheer lines to boost this lagging area.
The trend to more casual legwear is evident in top lines such as Hanes Hosiery, which, as reported, is introducing Silk Reflections Casual.
Here's the new product news from several other makers.
This week Giorgio Armani Calze launches its first athletic sock collection. The five-piece sport-specific line is expected to increase total volume by at least 5 percent, according to William Bell, president and chief executive officer.
Designed for tennis players, runners and other athletes, the socks wick perspiration away from the foot, Bell said. The new line is available in three fabric combinations: combed cotton and Lycra spandex; high-bulk acrylic and Lycra, and Cool Max and nylon. Wholesale prices range from $3.25 to $4. The socks feature extra cushioning at the arch and toe, Bell said. Each pair of socks has Armani's signature diamond on the ankle.
"Until now we didn't have enough relaxed footwear," he said. "Mr. Armani wanted to make sure we're satisfying all the needs of his women's customers from evening to wear-to-work, and now to weekend."
This week, American Essentials Inc., which manufactures its own line of socks and is the sock licensee for Calvin Klein Collection and Calvin Klein CK, will usher in its first line of CK trouser socks. Previously, CK trouser socks were manufactured by Kayser-Roth Corp., which holds the license for Calvin Klein hosiery. Following an agreement among American Essentials, Kayser-Roth and Calvin Klein, trouser socks are now classified under the sock category, according to Jordan Lipson, president of American Essentials.
Made of nylon and Lycra, the six-piece line is available in six colors and wholesales between $2.66 and $3.50. The new collection should increase business by at least 20 percent for American Essentials' Calvin Klein business, Lipson said.
Take the Lead and Step into a Better World Inc., a Fort Lee, N.J. sock manufacturer, has leased its first showroom space at 512 Seventh Ave., inside the showroom of J. Gallery, an outerwear producer. Started in November '92, the firm introduced its organic and recycled cotton casual socks last fall. After showing products in buyers' offices for the past year, several buyers advised the company to get a showroom, said William Couch, vice president of sales.
Projected volume for the women's line is $750,000, Couch noted. There are 14 styles in 11 colors, wholesaling from $2.35 to $3.63. Take the Lead donates 10 percent of its profits to the Child Welfare League of America and other nonprofit agencies, Couch added.
Pennaco Hosiery, a division of Danskin, has kicked off two new styles of sexy sheers, called Givenchy Passion Privee. Nylon and Lycra sheers with built-in high-cut panties wholesale for $4, and thigh-highs with lace trim wholesale for $4.25. Howard Hyde, vice president of marketing and sales at Pennaco, said that during this market both categories should generate total bookings of 74,000 units. Additionally, the firm has expanded its body-smoother category to include new styles Givenchy Hip and Tummy Controleur, which wholesale for $4.47. During August market, the product should generate orders for 60,000 units, Hyde said.
Last week, Ellen Tracy launched a new line of sheers with Lycra in every course, said Barry Tartarkin, vice president of licensing and private label development for licensee Ridgeview Inc. Based in Newton, N.C., Ridgeview will discontinue its Ellen Tracy line at the end of the year. The new sheer line is expected to comprise 40 percent--a slight increase compared to last year--of Ellen Tracy's total hosiery volume.
Made with double-covered nylon, the new line is more durable than the existing line, he said. The new sheers wholesale for $4.70 and are being offered in four styles: control top, bikini top, sheer-to-the-waist and body toner. The existing line offered 10 styles and nine colors, and that was too confusing for consumers, Tartarkin said.
"Women don't like to shop for pantyhose, and we were giving them too many choices," he said. "Now we've simplified the product and improved it."
As part of the new line, the company has also launched $4.25 thigh highs, wholesaling at $4.25, and knee-highs, at $1.80. All styles are available in 14 colors and are dyed to match Ellen Tracy ready-to-wear, Tartarkin said. A new style of Tactel microfiber trouser socks with Lycra in every course should double sock sales, he added. During market week, the focus is on color at La Leg, a sock resource here. Trouser socks and over-the-knee styles are available in neon lime, lemon, orange and violet. Both styles wholesale for $2.
"Sportier looks are coming in for spring, and color is important," said Fern Pochtar, vice president of design and merchandising. "Buyers are always looking for new things to generate interest on the sales floor."
Goldstone Hosiery, which makes socks and hosiery under the Golden Leg label here, has presented its first over-the-knee styles. They are done in nylon and come in three solid colors and two striped combinations. Solids wholesale for $1 and striped offerings wholesale for $1.25. Adrienne Weinbaum, national sales manager, said that this year the firm should sell more than 10,000 dozen of over-the-knee styles.

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