By  on December 27, 2005

NEW YORK — It may have been a tough year at retail, but innerwear executives are bullish about business prospects in 2006 due to strong sell-throughs of fashion items and luxe merchandise.

Manufacturers said they will focus on more innovative products that offer comfort, fashion and fit, specifically items in daywear, foundations and loungewear that will whet the appetite of retailers and consumers. Key elements will be fashion colors, contemporary styling and a new generation of ultrasoft microfibers and textured treatments.

With consolidation at retail, new ideas will be paramount as national brands are expected to battle for a smaller yet more potent portion of the marketplace and smaller, entrepreneurial firms struggle to find a niche.

Here, four innerwear executives offer their views:

Stan Herman, loungewear and robe designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America
Disappointments: An accident while playing tennis that affected his tennis game for five months and a "difficult changeover with the executive director [Steven Kolb] at the CFDA."

Goals: "[Next year] will be a major change for me. I'll be leaving the CFDA after 15 years as president in October 2006, but I'll continue to be an important member of the organization and try to continue to build New York as a major design destination. I'll also be writing my memoirs, which I hope will be published in '06, and I'm planning on expanding and doubling my Stan Herman business at QVC, where I began selling my loungewear and robes in 1992."

Josie Natori, chief executive officer of Natori Co.
Accomplishments: "We had so many initiatives in 2005, from Josie Girl children's wear to the Josie Natori launch this fall and an expansion of what we call our marshmallow family of supersoft microfiber products. We also launched our home textiles license with JLA, and that is a really big deal for me. We'll have to top all of that in 2006. We really haven't been focusing on licensing, but we'll definitely be implementing a strategy of expansion in the licensed product arena, whether it's fragrance or home accessories."

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