By and  on December 5, 1994

NEW YORK -- Bodywear makers hope to add some extra muscle to their business in 1995 with several key ideas.

They include:

Creating exclusive designs for major stores.

Developing brand names for mass market.

Building retail partnerships through technology.

Introducing more color.

Going into specialty stretch items such as padded, push-up sports bras.

Danskin will be moving into the mass market next year with a new program of active bodywear, a line combining stretch bodywear with active pieces, such as pull-on pants, said Howard Cooley, chief executive officer of Danskin Inc.

"We have a well-established business in department and specialty stores, and mass is a very significant area for growth," said Cooley.

The new line will carry a licensed name, Cooley said, but he withheld details. However, he indicated, the program should contribute to the 10 percent gain he's projecting for Danskin's activewear and bodywear businesses for the first half of 1995.

Jacques Moret is another company with new lines contributing additional volume. The firm expects its Spa 812 line introduced this fall to generate first-year volume of $3 million. A new licensed line, Nautilus, to be introduced at retail this summer, is expected to do $3 million in its first year, according to Joey Harary, president.

Plus-size bodywear is proving a growth area as well, Harary said. The category posted a 50 percent gain this year and another increase is expected in 1995.

Looking to develop partnerships with major retailers, Jacques Moret will offer exclusive designs to major retailers. In the past, the company did this only on a very limited basis -- only to one or two retailers, he said.

Harary said the company had improved its replenishment system by storing more inventory in its warehouse and by linking more retailers through EDI. Under the new system, Jacques Moret boasts a one-week turnaround time for reorders, as opposed to a 30-day or 60-day waiting period in the past.

Harary is also excited about the export possibilities under GATT. "We source globally as it is, but GATT will only increase our market size," Harary said. "We'll do business with the rest of the world a lot easier."Color has been the big news at Gilda Marx Industries, Los Angeles. "We took a major step by showing more color this spring, especially chemical brights, and this has been the best booking season for us in the past six seasons," said Gilda Marx, chairwoman.

Bookings in bodywear are ahead by 15 percent over a year ago, and activewear bookings are up 45 percent, she said.

As Marx explains it, consumers are now more in tune with color, glamour and "the variety of different bodywear and activewear looks for different women."

In January, Marx said she would introduce a group of bodywear in a blend of CoolMax and Lycra spandex, under the Gilda Marx label.

She noted the Flexatard label of bodywear, which was repositioned as a mass brand earlier this year, was performing well.

"Bookings in our private label division, which includes Flexatard, are up between 20 percent and 25 percent," Marx added.

Norm Zwail, president of Weekend Exercise Co., San Diego, said, "In general, our bookings for spring are up 10 percent. We sold a huge amount of coverups. In units, sales of coverups were up 25 percent."

Zwail noted that items such as a padded, push-up sports bra, called the Power Lifter Bra, has been a "tremendous hit."

"We had to increase production six-fold," said Zwail, noting that several additional padded, push-up styles in different fabrics and in textured treatments will be added early next year.

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