By  on February 1, 2006

NEW YORK — Talk about from the inside out. Innerwear designers are breaking traditional boundaries, heading into ready-to-wear territory.

In the beginning, there was a simple cotton pima T-shirt, bearing the name adam+eve.

That T-shirt begat a cashmere knit sweater, which begat wovens, such as linen drawstring pants and embroidered basics. From those came outerwear — puffy satin jackets and blazers with jeweled cuffs — and then, four seasons after its launch, the first full adam+eve collection: brocade safari jackets and delicate puff-sleeve blouses, as well as macramé tops, lotus-print pleated dresses and pintucked halters. They're all being launched this spring in stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Intermix.

Quite an evolution for designer Adam Lippes, whose adam+eve label has become synonymous with his seminal collection of no-nonsense undergarments. "People think of us as the guys who make that really cool underwear," Lippes says. "I get that all the time. When people know the fashion that we do, they're shocked. I saw Samantha Boardman the other day and she was like, 'I saw the coolest stuff and it was yours. I didn't know you did that!'"

As it turns out, Lippes isn't the only one stepping into the sportswear arena. Adam+eve joins a spate of innerwear labels that include Araks, Donna L'oren, Ying Li and Little Joe by Gail Elliott. Some designers, like Lippes, have tested the waters in past seasons by tossing out a silk blouse here, an embellished tank there, while others, such as Araks and Little Joe by Gail Elliott, have tapped into their lingerie's strong innerwear-as-outerwear vibe for a whole new collection. "My lingerie has always had more of a ready-to-wear feeling, so I felt that was the next logical step," says Araks designer Araks Yeramyan, whose new collection is launching for spring. Another logical step for Yeramyan is a runway show, which the Philadelphia native is holding during the upcoming Olympus Fashion for fall. Meanwhile, Lippes is carving out his own two-hour slot on the calendar with an informal presentation of fur-trimmed coats, rabbit vests and wool blazers.

While it may seem surprising that some trenches, trousers and pretty chiffon trappings have their roots in your everyday skivvies, it's actually a logical step, considering that many of these designers come from a sportswear background. Lippes is best known for his time spent at Oscar de la Renta as creative director and Yeramyan for her stints at Marc Jacobs and J. Crew. Even Ying Li-Oshrin, known for her hand-painted lingerie and sleepwear, has had 13 years of experience in the children's and contemporary markets.

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