Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK--A growing demand for embellishments is expected to keep the fashion panties market lively for next spring. At the same time, an infusion of cotton and Lycra spandex blends is adding another dimension to the market, which has been dominated by nylon and Lycra satin.
In some stores, cotton and Lycra is the big news.
Carolyn Schaedel, buyer of panties for Bloomingdale's, said, "Cotton and Lycra has been growing for me for the past year. All-nylon has downtrended 5 percent over the last year, and cotton and Lycra has dramatically picked up that business and more."
Schaedel noted that embellished, lace-trim panties of cotton and Lycra have been selling well because "they are perceived as value."
"That's what the customer wants and understands," he said.
She further noted that Bloomingdale's was getting "a lot of growth" from bridge resources and designer names. Best-selling labels include Hanro, and three licensed names: Valentino Intimo at Warnaco Group; Natori at Bestform Foundations and Guess at Nantucket Industries.
"Natori is on fire for me right now," said Schaedel.
Regarding color, Schaedel noted that cosmetic nude tones are selling well. Best-selling prints are on a white ground and include sophisticated abstract watercolor florals and geometrics.
Among manufacturers, Karyl Chongas, vice president and general manager of the Vanity Fair brand at Vanity Fair Mills, said, "We are thinking there's a lot of opportunity for us in stretch satins, especially Shimmereen."
"We are also positioning ourselves to go into cotton and Lycra for the first time in the near future," added Greg Stephenson, director of product development for daywear, panties, sleepwear and robes at Vanity Fair.
Stephenson said, however, that it will be important to get the Lycra message across to consumers.
"Consumers haven't yet recognized cotton and Lycra panties because the product doesn't pop off the selling floor like nylon and Lycra. We have to get that story across to consumers--they wear Lycra in activewear, ready-to-wear and hosiery."
Stephenson noted that coordinated daywear bras and panties in embellished cotton and Lycra have been selling "very well."
He added that V Wear Body Sleeks--a line of seamless, opaque, noncontrol panties and a matching bralet in nylon and Lycra--will exceed the initial first-year sales projection of $5 million, totaling between $7 and $10 million.
Chellie Henkin, vice president of Myonne, a panties division of I. Appel Corp., said bookings are up 28 percent over the same period last year. She attributed the gain to a greater demand for rtw colors, embellishment and fashion styling, particularly from mass merchants. "We're getting into embroidered cotton and Lycra for the first time. I think embroideries will be very important," said Henkin.
Kathy Reynolds, vice president of Lovable Co., Buford, Ga., said two fashion colors--aqua and terra-cotta--will be added to a program of fashion panties under the Rumours label for spring 1995. Platinum will be the key color for holiday. The program featuring nylon and Lycra stretch satin Shimmereen was first shipped to stores this summer, and navy has been a top-selling color, she said.
"The reaction to Shimmereen has been very good," said Reynolds.

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