NEW PLAYERS, NEW PRODUCTS

Byline: R.F

NEW YORK--Some new names will be enlivening the spring hosiery season. They'll be found on items ranging from sexy, form-shaping pantyhose to athletic socks.
Ithaca Industries will unveil a new eight-piece legwear collection carrying the label Vanity Fair. Through a licensing agreement with intimate apparel firm Vanity Fair Mills, a division of VF Corp., Ithaca will produce the line for the next five years, according to Joni Zeller-Claxton, vice president of hosiery design. The line is designed to combine intimate apparel features with legwear.
In the next 12 months, the line should generate $4.5 million, she said.
Wholesale prices range from $2.28 for pantyhose with a high-cut panty to $7.49 for what Ithaca calls "the rear shaper," a light support pantyhose with a nylon and Lycra spandex sculpting panty. Designed to lift the derriere, Ithaca is promoting it as "the push-up bra of hosiery," Zeller-Claxton said.
The new collection is available in 10 colors and coordinates with Vanity Fair intimate apparel.
Thigh-highs with an eyelet daisy band that wholesale for $4.08 will also be an important element of the line, Zeller-Claxton said. Next week Levante, an Italian pantyhose manufacturer, will be officially launched in the U.S. Deborah MacKinnon has been hired as the master agent for U.S. sales and distribution. MacKinnon, president of Zephyrs Australia Ltd., a tights resource, will use her showroom at 358 Fifth Ave. here to distribute Levante.
Based in Castel Goffredo, Italy, Levante will lease a 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Avenel, N.J. to assure 48-hour response time for domestic orders, MacKinnon said.
The 30-piece collection of sheers and opaques wholesales from $1.81 for ultra-sheer pantyhose to $6 for Lycra spandex blend sheer lace-trimmed thigh-highs. Most styles are available in 12 colors. Projected volume for Levante's first 12 months in the U.S. is $3 million, she said. Baker Heritage, a Hickory, N.C.-based sock manufacturer, is rolling out its new Umbro athletic socks, after finalizing a three-year licensing agreement with Umbro, the Greenville, S.C.-based soccer apparel manufacturer, Baker tested an eight-piece collection this fall in sporting goods stores and department stores, according to David Baker, vice president of sales.
Baker will introduce a four-piece collection of high-performance athletic socks called Umbro Elite. Wholesale prices for the entire Umbro collection ranges from $1.25 for a basic athletic crew to $2.92 for a training crew with arch and ankle support and padded heel and toe.
Projected first-year volume for the new line is $1.5 million, Baker said. Designed to coordinate with Umbro's athletic apparel, the sock collection carries the Umbro insignia.
While a New York showroom is scheduled to open in six months, Baker Heritage is planning a November mailing to preview the new line, Baker said. Samples and press material will be sent to 48 major retailers, he said. In February, the Umbro collection will be offered at the Super Show sporting goods and activewear fair in Atlanta.

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