By and  on February 16, 1994

DALLAS -- Wrinkle-free is proving to be a big hit among several women's sportswear makers.

Firms such as Eddie Haggar Ltd., here, and Cherokee Apparel, Sunland, Calif. -- pioneers in wrinkle-free products -- as well as the Lee Co., Counterparts and Donnkenny, are forging ahead with expanded wrinkle free offerings. Levi, Strauss & Co., is reportedly getting into wrinkle-free products in its women's Docker's line, as well.

Eddie Haggar Ltd.'s line of women's separates called EHL No-Wrinkle was launched a year ago with a pair of pleated cotton pants. For this spring, the line has swelled to include skirts, shorts and pull-on pants, and jackets may be offered in the near future.

Industry sources speculated that Haggar's no-wrinkle collection could rack up sales of $25 million this year versus $16 million a year ago. Total sales at EHL this year are planned in excess of $175 million, versus last year's $65 million.

A large part of the increase represents business generated by EHL's Palmetto's/Essentials division, acquired late last year from Hartwell Co., Hartwell, Ga., as reported. EHL plans to roll out the no-wrinkle concept for the Palmetto's junior's and children's division in March for fall selling.

"Women really want the no-wrinkle product," said Eddie Haggar, president of the sportswear firm. "Not having to iron garments is very important."

In addition to cotton, some of the looks now also are rendered in blends of polyester and rayon gabardine and cotton and linen. Wholesale prices for fall start at $15 for a slim cotton belted skirt and peak at $36 for cotton and linen pants.

The fall collection, to break in March, also will include no-wrinkle belted and pleated denim trousers wholesaling for $17.50 and coordinating wrinkle-resistant woven cotton chambray tops, at $15.

Trendwise, the collection is anchored by a neutral palette. All the no-wrinkle items are offered in petites, misses' and large and tall sizes, with petites and talls reportedly the fastest checking.

Haggar profiled the no-wrinkle customer as the woman seeking apparel versatile enough to commute from work to weekend and whose household income averages between $35,000 to $50,000.

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