By  on February 28, 2005

NEW YORK — An insatiable appetite for more fashion and specialty items could make the lingerie market sizzle for fall-holiday 2005.

Valentine’s Day proved to be a stronger-than-usual selling period for lingerie, particularly luxe boudoir fare such as silk and chiffon peignoirs, robes and chemises, as well as novelty gifts like embellished thongs and boy-cut shorts with coordinating camis.

Whether it was whimsical, sexy or sleek and classic, lingerie averaged sales increases in excess of 10 percent the first half of February compared with a year ago, several vendors said. And innerwear executives generally said they are eager to capitalize on the momentum with a plethora of new product.

Top ideas include expanding new classifications such as buttery-soft microfiber blends like Modal, Tactel and Lycra, adding more fashion colors and embellishment options for key items like baby dolls and building niche areas, including bridal and special occasion. Some up-and-coming designers like Daniella Simon are even branching out into unknown waters with unorthodox mixes of contemporary microfibers and vintage trims, while Cassandra Kelley, co-founder of 2Belles, a young contemporary underwear label, is using couture satin ribbons and bows as a signature. Meantime, Wolford is offering Pucci-inspired leggings.

Upscale goods in lingerie overall also have been a strong category, and anything that smacks of luxury — elaborate French or Italian lace, dressmaker touches such as cording, pleating, fagoting and ruching, or high-quality cottons, silks and cashmere and double-face fabrics that are softly brushed — is in big demand.     

Sizing up the mood of the market, Donna Giambrone Ingram, director of merchandising and design for the Stan Herman collection of robes and at-homewear as well as sleepwear by Jockey and Nine & Co. at Carole Hochman Designs Inc., said: “Retailers definitely want more luxury goods, and they are looking for that next step. They realize special is better. It’s not just private label anymore. Our luxe detail groups by Stan Herman got the ‘wow’ with the first collection in January.”

Ingram said a palette of soft, dusty colors including sage, lilac, ice blue and pink are an important element of the Stan Herman collection for holiday because “it’s not only for gift-giving.

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