MONROE, Ga. (FNS)--Oxford Industries has joined the ranks of wrinkle-resistant programs with its own proprietary process, EverPress. EverPress is on the market now, or soon will be, in men's and women's casual slacks and shorts, especially in washed-down garments. Marketed as a private label and as a brand, it was developed over the past two years by the Oxford Slacks division of Oxford and a chemical company scientist, whom Oxford declined to name. Oxford has acquired all rights to the product, however. Oxford Slacks also declined to say what the process is, except that after garments are loaded into a wet-processing machine, the chemical solution, which is calibrated for each load, is added and fully absorbed into the garments. There is no residue and no extraction of the chemical, according to Oxford Slacks. The slacks then are pressed and baked in Sussman batch ovens.Because of the EverPress part of the process, however, Oxford Slacks says consistency of application is achieved and the result is no waste. The EverPress slacks, which can be finished any way before the process is applied to the garment, perform better than post-cured products and are environmentally friendly, Oxford claims. The process offers consumers a multitude of finishes, which post-curing doesn't. The garment can be aged and weathered, sandwashed, garment washed, abraded or antiqued before the process is applied to the garment. What Oxford promises with EverPress is performance and consistency of product.Everett Cramer, account executive, Oxford Slacks, said, "There are two reasons for EverPress. One, if you want a garment to be washed heavily and keep its softness, and two, if you want a fabric that isn't post-cured." According to Michael Miller, vice-president of marketing for Oxford Slacks, EverPress can be applied to many fabrics, including linen blends and a five-and-a-half-ounce chambray. Depending on the customer, EverPress pants and shorts are not necessarily creased. Oxford Slacks is banking on EverPress to boost sales. Said Miller, "It will have a significant impact on our sales growth. We expect to grow our distribution on this product and increase our market share with existing customers." At this point, EverPress represents 35 percent of the division's casual slacks business, and it is growing more quickly than the post-cured side, which represents about half of company's dress slacks. Oxford Slacks is selling the product in every distribution channel--to specialty catalogs/retailers such as Eddie Bauer, to young men's major chains such as Merry-Go-Round, to the mass market, to department stores, and via contract sales to customers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Timberland. One area in which EverPress appears to be making inroads is the young men's market--the antithesis to wrinkle-resistant products. Alessandra Basso, men's bottoms buyer for American Eagle, Pittsburgh, said American Eagle did a small test with EverPress this fall. "It actually performed very well," she said. "Oxford has accomplished a washed-down, soft-hand pant that does not wrinkle, and it's a little bit more toward our market, which is young men's." Miller said Oxford tests the fabrics for such physical characteristics as pH, color fastness and tensile strength, and tests trim components as well. "We're doing everything we can to get a 3.5 rating from the AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists), which is the minimum for smoothness and crease retention," said Miller. "Our target now is 4.0 for crease retention and 4.0 for smoothness," which is better than 3.5. EverPress has passed every customer laboratory test--Sears, J.C. Penney and the catalogs, he added. Oxford also can add stain-resistant properties to the garments. Miller said 60 percent of Oxford Slacks' customer base is buying the EverPress product or is interested in it. Most of Oxford Slacks' customer base is upper end, and includes department stores and specialty catalogs. Most of the EverPress product retails between $28-$40, but it also retails as low as $24 and as high as $60.
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