By  on February 10, 1994

NEW YORK -- Natori Co. will get into basic daywear in March with best-selling styles from a firm that recently closed -- Lady Lynne.

First-year sales projection for the new line of daywear, which will bear the Natori label, is $4 million to $5 million, said Josie Natori, president of the firm.

Natori pointed out that she and her husband, Kenneth Natori, who is chairman, have not acquired the Lady Lynne name or firm, but have taken on board Lady Lynne's former owner, Steve Aranoff.

While his title at Natori has not been set, Aranoff will direct sales of the daywear line; his son, Eddie, will oversee production, as he did at Lady Lynne. Manufacturing will continue to be contracted in the South. The line will be shown to retailers at the Natori showroom at 40 East 34th St.

The Aranoffs' expertise and connections, Josie Natori said, will add new dimensions to her firm: domestic production with a four-week turn, the ability to tap in on trends quickly and an additional specialty store account base this year of 300 to 400 doors. In recent seasons, Lady Lynne has been known as a key resource for bodyliners to wear under sheer apparel.

Josie Natori is considered to be a strong fashion advocate and is credited with getting the innerwear-outerwear trend going in 1989. But she said that she decided to take a "basic direction" in daywear, based on market research and conversations with retailers.

"We are being more realistic about what is selling at department stores," said Natori. "We also discovered a major trend is that women are looking for functional lingerie again, the kind of items that are found in traditional lingerie departments."

In addition to bodyliners and bodystockings, Natori's basic daywear category will include such items as suit camisoles, tap pants, teddies and half-slips. Natori will also continue a Lady Lynne legwear item -- a French nylon mesh pantyhose with a back seam -- that could provide a "perfect entry into the legwear scene," she said.

Natori said she will continue to feature her fashion daywear items, such as bustiers and stretch bodysuits, in the firm's Natori and Josie lines."My fashion daywear will now be merchandised as accessories within the sleepwear and at-home wear collections," she said.

Lady Lynne, which closed Jan. 15, was a third-generation, 55-year-old maker of traditional daywear and some fashion items. Steve Aranoff said the company was forced to close by retail consolidation and competition from major innerwear corporations.

Aranoff said he is notifying retailers that Natori will oversee spring deliveries of best-selling Lady Lynne styles.

Both Natori and Aranoff noted there would be no changes in the daywear's wholesale price structure, merchandising and marketing. Wholesale prices start at $12.50 for basic bodyliners and go to $35 for bodystockings.

"We probably won't change anything," said Natori. "We will continue to do the brochures with visuals twice a year, and we'll most likely keep an 800-number for reorders."

There are plans to update packaging, though, and Natori's design team will create new styles and update established bestsellers, she said.

Natori noted business was generally flat in 1993, but said she anticipates 1994 sales gains of 15 to 20 percent, to bring total volume to more than $40 million for all Natori businesses, including three licensees and distributor licensees overseas.

She attributed the projected sales increases to three factors: the new daywear line, expanded distribution overseas and a focus on balanced mixes of "classic" Natori looks in sleepwear featuring appliques and embroideries.

She said there is a "huge demand" for basic daywear in the Far East, particularly in Japan, where she has a year-old distributor's license with Pola Cosmetics. It's an area, along with Singapore, Taiwan and China, where she foresees the greatest growth potential.

"A company today cannot survive without going global and without technology," she continued. "EDI will especially enhance our daywear business on an international platform."

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