By  on March 3, 1994

NEW YORK -- A focus on stretch, comfort and the full-figure customer will be a major thrust of foundations firms at the March innerwear market.

Intermingled with the planning for market is a lot of optimism from some major firms.

For example, Lee Chaden, president and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Intimates, commented, "We are already ahead this year, and I would be disappointed if we don't get a 20 percent sales increase over fall 1993. As an intimates group, we have very aggressive growth targets."

Chaden, who oversees the Playtex, Bali, Hanes Her Way, Just My Size and Canadelle intimate apparel businesses, further noted that overall Sara Lee Intimates had "significant increases" last spring and fall.

In releasing financial results last week for The Warnaco Group, Linda Wachner, chairman, president and chief executive officer, noted sales of its intimate apparel lines, including Warner's, Olga and Fruit of the Loom, rose 10 percent to $423.2 million in 1993. The intimate apparel business also registered "increased profitability despite increases in marketing spending."

For 1994, Wachner said that for all of Warnaco, which produces men's wear along with intimate apparel, she sees "another year of sales and earnings growth."

At Maidenform Inc., Jim Mogan, senior vice president of sales and merchandising, said: "I think we are going to have a very strong market in March. We are looking for an increase of 6 to 10 percent in fall bookings."

Turning to upcoming plans, Sara Lee's Chaden said 1994 will include a "major relaunch" of the Playtex 18-Hour Bra brand. Already previewed for some major accounts, it will be featured again at March market for deliveries starting in late spring. He said a daytime television ad campaign, budgeted at between $7 million and $8 million, will start in October.

"We will introduce two new bra styles that will give all of the support and comfort of the 18-Hour Bra called 18-Hour Stretch Support," said Chaden. He noted that the two new styles -- a soft cup and an underwire style -- will be aimed at youthful, more contemporary women in the 35 to 50 age range.

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