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."The no-wrinkle concept is unbelievably underexposed to the public," said Paul Robb, executive vice president at EHL. "We've conducted focus group studies composed of women aged 25 to 49, and they had very little recognition of the no-wrinkle concept. But they all said it was fabulous."
Robb said EHL is planning an aggressive point-of-sale fall advertising campaign set to break around Mother's Day that trumpets the assets of no-wrinkle and that could also tout EHL's 30-day money-back guarantee.
About 2,000 department stores currently are buying EHL No-Wrinkle merchandise, including Robinson's, Los Angeles; Macy's West, San Francisco; and Mercantile Stores Co., Fairfield, Ohio.
Aurelie Cavallaro, merchandise manager for moderate sportswear at Mercantile, said the chain is considering picking up Haggar's new no-wrinkle separates.
"No-wrinkle, or care-free as we call it, is very important, particularly in the moderate area," said Cavallaro. "We will be considering adding Haggar's new no-wrinkle separates -- the shirts were very appetizing."
She said Haggar's cornerstone no-wrinkle pants continue to have excellent sell-through and that all Mercantile's 100 stores carry the item in misses', petite and large sizes.
Joe Elles, president of Cherokee Apparel, Sunland, Calif. said wrinkle-free certainly is an added enticement to purchase apparel but that women want more.
"No-wrinkle is not enough to buy a garment," he asserted. "You've got to start with great casual styling and fabrication."
Cherokee will introduce in March for fall two new no-wrinkle pant silhouettes, both cut from cotton twill: a pleat-front model with back elastic and welt pockets and a pleated style with a Hollywood waist. Both wholesale for $14.49.
Cherokee launched its first wrinkle-free item, a pair of traditional pants, in fall 1992. That model, though, will be phased out by early fall and is being replaced by the two new styles.
Elles projected the firm's wrinkle-free line, touted as Press-Free Cotton on the garment tag, to post sales of $30 million this year, more than double 1993 volume. The pants are targeted for moderate department stores.
The Lee Co. launched its wrinkle-resistant line of casual pants last June. Today, all of its casual pant offerings are wrinkle-free.In January, Lee's wrinkle-free casual shorts, priced to retail between $28 and $30, hit the selling floor, and for fall, Lee is introducing wrinkle-free causal cotton stretch pants, according to Richie Russell, senior product manager, casuals.
"The 100 percent cotton casual pants have been excellent. The initial sell-throughs were phenomenal. Things have cooled a little bit, but the product is performing extremely well," said Russell. He said wrinkle-free casual pants were offered in misses', petites, long and women's sizes.
Lee uses a garment process that makes the product wrinkle-free after the item is manufactured. "It gives a softer hand and makes a more durable garment," he said. This process is a wet treatment applied to the finished garment, in contrast to pre-curing, where the fabric is resin-treated at the mill with no further processing, and post-cured, where the fabric is treated at the mill and the finished garment cured by being baked in ovens.
For fall, the new cotton stretch casuals are priced to retail between $36 and $38, he said. The company is also offering yarn-dyed fancies, using the wrinkle-free process. "We're looking into the possibility of doing wrinkle-free shirts," he said.
Counterparts offered its first line of wrinkle-free cotton twill pants this spring, and is expanding into wrinkle-free gabardine pants for fall. Called Performa Gab, the pants are a 55/45 blend of Fortrel polyester and rayon. The gabardine pants are priced to retail for around $30, said Jay Levtow, president of Counterparts.
"What's exciting is it's one of the newest fabrics in the career vein. Our focus in the wrinkle-free issue is to offer the performance without the premium of price." He said the wrinkle-free process of Performa Gab would only tack on additional $1 at wholesale. The firm is also continuing with its wrinkle-free cotton pants for fall. With cotton pants, there's a $2.50 upcharge to add the wrinkle-free process.
To familiarize the customer with Performa Gab, Counterparts will have hangtags and point-of-sale signage for retailers. "Retailers are beginning to respond to the nice hand and drape. Performa Gab really has great crease retention," said Levtow. "We'll add it to our quick response basic stock program," he said.Donnkenny is booking its second season with 100 percent cotton wrinkle-free pants. The first collection is currently being shipped to stores. "We're putting signage in stores and tagging all the pants," said Richard Rubin, chief executive officer. "We're treating this as a core product." The wrinkle-free cotton pants are priced to retail just under $30, he said.
"It's booking as an item and now we're coordinating other products with it. It booked in every demographic area. For fall, we're adding more colors," said Rubin.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews