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Career Apparel Shortage Invokes Hunger for Unger

NEW YORK — Having booked in excess of $2 million with its debut fall collection, Kay Unger’s daytime dress and sportswear line, Unger, seems to have hit a vein at retail.<br><br>When doing market research before she launched the line,...

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NEW YORK — Having booked in excess of $2 million with its debut fall collection, Kay Unger’s daytime dress and sportswear line, Unger, seems to have hit a vein at retail.

When doing market research before she launched the line, Unger said career clothing was full of serious blazers and plain pants that possessed a masculine feel. So Unger set out to create a line of slimming dresses and suits made of custom fabrics geared at working women of all ages.

Whether its a lightweight double-face wool dress or a doubleknit wool crepe suit, the line is a combination of minimalist cuts and feminine details. Most of the dresses and skirts feature soft tucks near the waist to “hide a woman’s folds” according to Unger. Other details include custom hardware and “Unger-pinnings,” fully lined long-sleeve T-shirts made of nylon mesh that feature graphic prints. While many dresses are sleeveless, each is available in a three-quarter sleeve version.

Wholesale prices for the line run $190 for a one-button jacket, $286 for a long jacket and between $130 and $145 for dresses. It’s offered in sizes 2 to 14.

“We feel it’s for a customer that wants something cleaner and more modern, but with a feminine fit,” said Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. “It’s more modern than the Kay Unger collection, which is more detailed.”

For spring, Unger is adding fabrics such as lightweight stretch gauze and a few cocktail-type dresses.

Rob Feinberg, president of Phoebe Co., Unger’s parent company, said he expected the line to grow in 2003, but did not disclose details about sales forecasts.

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