NEW YORK--Entrepreneurs in the activewear and bodywear fields are expanding their businesses through direct mailers, pro shops at health clubs and home shopping. Among the newcomers to this area are Greg Manoucherian, a managing partner of the New York Health & Racquet Club here, which will branch out with its own private label activewear and bodywear for women and men in January. The upscale health and fitness club, which has six full-service units and two tennis clubs in New York, will send mailers to its 30,000 members before Jan. 1. The mailers will feature the new lines of active sportswear and workout wear bearing the NYH&RC logo. Mailings will be expanded in 1995 to a broader consumer base, said Manoucherian. He said in the future the lines would be marketed and sold to retailers. "It's been a concept for a few years, but it's finally coming to fruition," said Manoucherian. "We've been doing our own basic private label lines for many years and will continue to have the basics, but we can now bring our fitness clothing to a higher level of quality, with looks that are classic and in good taste--kind of the Chanel of fitness apparel." Initially, Manoucherian said he planned to give fitness apparel its first retail space at the NYH&RC unit on East 50th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. The basic items--primarily T-shirts and shorts--have traditionally been shown in display windows at the clubs. Manoucherian said Camille Evans, the designer of activewear and bodywear under the Crunch label, would design the private label lines for NYH&RC. Fabrics for the new lines at NYH&RC will include blends of cotton and Lycra spandex, and cotton terry, cotton jersey and cotton fleece. Colors will include heather gray, navy and purple in solids and stripes. Prices haven't been set, but items will retail from around $15 for a control brief to $85 for jackets. The line will include leotards, shorts, leggings and coordinating tops and pants. Evans described the female membership of NYH&RC as "women who want something more refined than a junior product, and who do not want to wear anything as outrageous as Crunch." She said swimwear would be added in 1995. At Crunch Fitness International Inc., Doug Levine, president, said pro shop business of Crunch apparel at the three Crunch Fitness gyms here is booming. "Our initial sales projection for our pro shop business was $900,000 the first year," said Levine, "but we are already doing $1.5 million. There's a whole move in the country toward people buying things that they perceive as authentic. That's why gyms are getting into their own lines of fitness apparel." Levine noted that sales at Crunch Gear, the firm's apparel division, have nearly doubled to $4 million in the last eight months since Crunch signed three licenses: one with Fashion Trend Inc. to produce bodywear, one with SilverWare to manufacture activewear and one with Gravity Graphics for printed T-shirts. "Now we can show 150 silhouettes and three colors seasonally," said Levine. "When we did private label, we were limited to one color and two to three styles." The same styles of Crunch fitness apparel are being sold at the Crunch pro shops and at 350 department and specialty store doors. In 1995, 50 percent of the styles will be sold exclusively to stores, he said. Levine said Crunch began selling its fitness apparel on On Q and Q2, two home shopping services of QVC, in July. "The sell-throughs have been fantastic. We are selling around 1,500 pieces per one-hour segment, or about $20,000 at wholesale. They mark it up 35 to 40 percent." The firm also began exporting Crunch outside the U.S. this spring to Canada, the U.K., Japan, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. Nick DeMarco, president of Nautilus Wear, a division of Delta Woodside Inc., Greenville, S.C., said his company will launch its biggest mailer--600,000 catalogs--in a couple of months. In two weeks, a mailer of 12,000 will be sent specifically to fitness clubs for club employees and fitness instructors. The mailers will feature Nautilus equipment, activewear and bodywear produced by its two new licensees, Great American Cotton and Jacques Moret. DeMarco said there will be styles in women's and men's activewear and bodywear for spring 1995 designed exclusively to feature logos of various health clubs: "There will be a Nautilus logo on the neck or back, areas that won't interfere with the clubs' logos."He wouldn't divulge figures, but noted, "There are 24 million club members in the U.S., and that's the target audience we're going after." Terri Errico and her sister Fran, operators of the EnergyWear fitness apparel shop at the Equinox Fitness Club at 897 Broadway, near East 19th Street here, said they plan to launch their first catalog by year's end. The mailing will be at least 15,000, said Terri Errico. Fran Errico said response has been so good that a second pro shop is scheduled to open Sept. 1, earlier than planned, at the second Equinox unit here at 344 Amsterdam Ave., near West 76th Street. She added that a line of private label underwear for women and men will be introduced this year.
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