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.He added that unlike the traditional 18-Hour Bra, the two new styles will not feature spanette, a latex rubber trim that is stitched on the side panels of bra cups and underneath the cups. The regular 18-Hour bras will continue to feature spanette.
"The two new styles will continue to feature nylon tricot cups, an M-frame with a high center gore, and lots of coverage," he said, noting that the bras are expected to carry a suggested retail price of between $21 and $23. Colors for the new 18-Hour bras will be white and almond. Cup sizes will start at 34B and go to 42DD.
Maidenform's Mogan based his projections for gains in part on the introduction of two new groups and the success of Satin Seduction, a group of shiny nylon and Lycra spandex satin bras with a seamless finish. The Satin Seduction group was introduced in November.
"We will be introducing two major groups in March -- a tailored, seamless collection of bras and a lace and satin full-figure collection that features a comfort band around the inside of the underwire."
The seamless group of nylon and Lycra will feature two underwire bra styles in black, white and fashion colors. Wholesale prices and sizes were not yet available.
The full-figure group will have two underwire styles and a soft cup style. Bra sizes will be 34C to 42DD. Colors will be white, beige and black.
"We believe the idea of a comfort band is a great marketing handle, and women will respond to the whole idea of greater comfort," said Mogan.
He further noted that the comfort band will be a feature of Maidenform's average-size seamless bras, which run 34B to 40D. Wholesale prices for the full-figure and average-size seamless groups will each start at $10.50 and go to $12.
Greta Shugrue, director of marketing for the Vanity Fair brand at Vanity Fair Mills, said the biggest introduction for fall selling will be a seamless group of control bras and coordinating panties called Body Sleeks.
"We are referring to it as second skin innerwear," said Shugrue. "We are excited about it because it's a balance between fashion and performance."The Body Sleeks group of opaque nylon and Lycra will have three bra styles: a soft cup bra in sizes 34B to 40DD, an average underwire style in sizes 34B to 38D and a full-figure underwire style in sizes 34C to 42DD.
Colors will be black, bronze and a pale pink. There will be two control briefs -- one full and one high-cut -- and one non-control high-cut brief. Wholesale prices weren't yet set.
A new brand called Rumours aimed at department stores will be launched by Lovable Co. in March, said Kathy Reynolds, senior vice president of marketing. The first-year sales projection is $2 million, she said. "The whole idea behind the brand name is romance and mystery," said Reynolds. "It's aimed at a younger, more contemporary customer who has a fashion-forward attitude." She said deliveries are scheduled to begin March 25, or earlier, if needed.
Fabrics will include cotton broadcloth and cotton knits. Prints will be a mix of florals with stripes and florals with gingham, and stretch and rigid laces of rayon and nylon. The wholesale price per dozen bras is $70.20.
Reynolds added that a breast cancer awareness program will be part of the launch of the Rumours brand. The promotion for the first two months will feature a collar tag on hangers that says "Some things are more important than fashion." The tag will have an 800 telephone number for the Susan B. Komen Foundation for questions concerning breast cancer.
Richard Teachout, a vice president of marketing for the Lilyette brand of bras at NCC Industries, said, "We've added three new styles to our full-busted group of bras, totaling seven styles. The year-old line has ended up being 15 percent of our total business."
Lilyette's new full-busted bra styles of nylon and Lycra will be a jacquard-pattern underwire style, wholesaling for $9.68; an embossed seamless matte-and-shine underwire style, for $8.80, and an all-over stretch lace look, for $10.12. Colors will be black, white, cocoa and pink.
Teachout added that a stretch lace underwire minimizer bra of nylon and Lycra will be introduced in cup sizes 34C to 42DD. The minimizer will wholesale for $10.26. A coordinating panty is $5.28. Colors will be white and pink.Joyce Baran, vice president of merchandising and design at Strouse, Adler Co., said control garments will be the firm's fall highlight.
New control items will all be part of the group called Does What Your Diet Doesn't. They will include a long-leg control brief, dubbed Body Reformer II, wholesaling for $21.16; a boy-leg control brief called Short Stop, for $9.66; a waist-eliminator cinch, for $10.58, and a group called Toning Tops -- control camisoles with built-in underwire bras that fall five inches below the waist for tummy and hip support. Wholesale prices for the control camisoles will be $13.57 for a matte-and-shine look, and $17.48 for a stretch lace style. Both styles are of nylon and Lycra. There also will be a control thong style that offers tummy control, wholesaling for $6.44.
"The Toning Tops will be among our top items for fall because they can be mixed and matched with the control briefs," said Baran.
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