By  on January 3, 2005

NEW YORK — It’s a new market and a new year, so the lingerie industry, not surprisingly, is focusing on innovation and newness.

It’s also a time to get a read on retail sell-throughs for Christmas, as manufacturers of sleepwear, robes and at-homewear present and solidify orders for major programs for fall and holiday selling, as well as back-to-school promotions. Warm wear in particular is an important classification, especially lounge separates and key items in brushed-back satin, flannel and fleece, while foundations firms will focus primarily on expanded color palettes for spring and early fall.

Despite the traditionally easy pace of a small market in which markdown money is the main complaint, one topic will overshadow a number of conversations between merchants and makers: the status of product and delivery schedules that may be compromised by the devastation of the Dec. 26 tsunami, with a death toll of at least 117,000 estimated at press time and obliterated coastal towns across South and Southeast Asia (see story, page 19).

While global sourcing and manufacturing will undoubtedly be a hot-button issue, executives said they will continue to focus on the needs of retailers and the demand for new ideas and product.

Josie Natori, chief executive officer of Natori Co., said, “We’ll have quite a bit to show retailers. I hope a new brand, the Josie Natori Collection, will define a modern, new image for lingerie. One of the trends I’m seeing is everybody wants happy prints. We are known for our Asian-inspired prints, and we’ll have prints from tea parties to geishas from every [Asian] nationality in the Natori and Josie collections, as well as the Cruz line.”

Natori targeted two other classifications that have been selling “extremely well” at stores and will be expanded in each brand: woven and knit cottons that now sell year-round and the zip-front hooded jacket she described as a “hot item.”

Seth Morris, president of Carole Hochman Designs, said, “January is a very significant market for us and everybody pretty much comes to market. We’ll show a lot of micro fleeces and brushed-back satins, and we’ll introduce the Stan Herman robe collection. There will also be the first collection of Lauren Ralph Lauren daywear, and it will be the first full fall season for Betsey Johnson sleepwear and daywear.”

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