By  on August 14, 2006

Say goodbye to dry-clean only. The Limited has created an answer to business travel: a machine-washable suit.

Sold exclusively at the Limited's 290 stores nationwide, the L3 Travel Suit has been selling briskly since it made its debut Aug. 7, according to Scott Razek, vice president of marketing for the Limited. Razek declined to give figures, but said sales had exceeded company expectations in the first week.

"Throw it in the washer, throw it in the dryer, throw it in your bag, throw it on and look fabulous," said Razek. "You are not compromising fashion for this terrific benefit of not dry cleaning. The technical benefits are not the first thing you notice — you notice that it's a great-looking suit."

Made of a polyester/wool/viscose/Lycra blend, the L3 includes a blazer, slim pants and pencil skirt, available in black-and-gray pinstripe, navy plaid and solid black.

Skirts retail for about $70, pants for about $90 and the blazers for about $180.

The Columbus, Ohio, retailer designed the cut and fit of the suit, but Israeli private label manufacturer Bagir Ltd. created the fabric technology. In February, Bagir introduced machine-wash and tumble-dry suits for men sold at J.C. Penney.

In designing the L3 line, Bagir conducted extensive research and experiments, putting the suits through 30 washes and 30 tumble-dry cycles, assessing the results after every five cycles. The Bagir suits showed identical or better results compared with similar suits in the same fabric after the same number of dry-cleanings, according to the company.

"It was nearly two years in the process of developing not only shell and lining fabrics, but also all of the internal pieces, including the glues," said David Feig, vice president of marketing for Bagir. "The experience a product like this would suffer in a washing machine and then in the heat of a dryer would be quite traumatic, and creating a suit that could handle it and still look as good — or better — as if it were dry-cleaned took quite a bit of doing."

In addition to touting the suit's convenience and value, the company is marketing it as health-conscious and environmentally friendly.

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