By  on April 30, 2007

Hanesbrands Inc. doesn't usually find itself in the company of Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs.

But that's just where the Sara Lee spin-off was April 19 to 21 when it opened a Hanes Comfortique pop-up shop for three days on upscale Melrose Place in Los Angeles.

"Being in this environment is new for the brand and it is important," Katy O'Kennedy, senior marketing manager for Hanes, said during a party Wednesday to introduce the brand's first pop-up concept. "The brand is a well-loved brand in the U.S. People do know us for comfort, but now it is kind of in a stylish way, so that does make us stand out."

Hanes gave customers an early look at its spring and summer styles of ComfortSoft bras and panties in the 1,800-square-foot space. Available in underwire and wireless varieties, ComfortSoft bras retail for around $9.99, feature wide straps to eliminate slipping and digging, and range from 34A to 38D. The cotton and cotton-stretch panties, which cost $6 to $8 for a multipack, have waist and leg bands intended to hold the panties in place and not to chafe.

In shades of blue, pink and lavender, the ComfortSoft intimate apparel contrasted with the white walls, white fuzzy sofas and white carpeting of the pop-up shop. A few men's items, including boxers, tanks and shirts, were tucked away in a corner.

On opening night, revelers were treated to a preview of ComfortSoft bras and panties on six models clothed by celebrity stylist Jennifer Rade, who has outfitted Pink, Angelina Jolie and Marilyn Manson. Standing in the center of the shop on an Olympic-like podium, the models wore sheer jackets and dresses to expose their innerwear.

To fit nonmodel clientele, two Hanes employees staffed the Comfortique shop. Hanes notified potential shoppers about the shop through e-mail blasts and in the local media.

About 80 percent of women wear incorrect bra sizes, O'Kennedy said. Even Jennifer Love Hewitt, who graces the ComfortSoft TV ads and wore a knee-length, black Fleur Wood dress to the Comfortique opening, acknowledged she chose a cup size too small before learning about appropriate fit from Hanes."That's why I had been so uncomfortable," Hewitt said.

Based on conversations with friends, family and colleagues, Hewitt stressed that comfort is a top priority in selecting bras.

"I work 17 hours a day on the show [CBS' "Ghost Whisperer"], so I am constantly in them and I constantly have to focus on that area for some reason," she said. "It is really important that I have a good bra, something really comfortable."

Younger women who shop across retailing channels, from mass merchandisers to high-end boutiques, connect with the ComfortSoft line, O'Kennedy said. She indicated that locating Comfortique on Melrose Place reinforced that connection.

O'Kennedy said there are no plans for more Hanes pop-up shops, adding, "If this is successful, there are always opportunities we will evaluate."

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