By  on May 23, 2005

NEW YORK — The first line of men's and women's underwear, daywear, sleepwear and loungewear bearing the Levi's label is being produced under license by Signature Apparel Group for fall 2005.

Officials at Levi Strauss and Signature Apparel would not give a sales projection, but wholesale sales the first full year for the combined men's and women's businesses will be $15 million to $20 million, according to industry estimates.

Christopher Laurita, president and chief executive officer of Signature Apparel, said distribution will be "three-tiered."

"The strategy will be to present the lines to midtier stores like J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Sears. "We'll have better fabrics, treatments and trims for the Federateds of the world, and we'll have a premium line of technical fabrics [cotton and Modal and seamless polyelastane spandex] for department and specialty stores," Laurita said.

Both the men's and women's products will be sized S, M, L, and XL. The underwear will primarily be merchandised in clear packages that will display a prominent Levi-logoed waistband and a visual of a man and woman wearing underwear. Special treatments will include Levi's signature red tabs, contrasting red stitching, and red and pale gray Levi logos. Styles will include lounge pants that are an "exact replica of Levi's 501 five-pocket jeans," he said.

"Calvin's packaging is very sexy, while Jockey's is very basic," Laurita said. "We wanted something in the middle, but we still wanted the sex factor." He noted that a concept shop environment of different Levi products is being presented to retailers. "It's really a lifestyle brand," he said.

A spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Levi Strauss, said, "We are trying to put the power of the Levi's brand behind other categories. Retailers will merchandise the products by category and the way they see it."

Prices have not been finalized.

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