By  on December 5, 1994

NEW YORK -- Manufacturers are eyeing 1995 as a lucrative year for innerwear.

They are basking in the ongoing popularity of lingerie looks, which have been surfacing in everything from swimwear to bodywear and ready-to-wear. Certainly, it's not easy for everyone. Smaller innerwear firms continue to feel the squeeze of retail consolidation, and the growing competitive pressures as big companies get bigger and strike up massive partnerships with major retailers. Nevertheless, most vendors predict the new vibrancy in the category itself, with heightened consumer interest at many levels, will continue well into 1995. Many are projecting sales gains of up to 30 percent or more for the first six months of 1995.

Many innerwear firms began taking advantage of the appetite for lingerie looks at the August and November spring markets. Now, as they've had time to digest the results, vendors say they will expand styles, colors and fabrics in different categories, building a more diverse buffet for item-hungry retailers.

The item strategy -- revolving primarily around dual-purpose fashion looks -- also is expected to gather steam with expanded value-priced goods for department stores, and more private label programs for mass channels. Manufacturers are feeling bullish about business with mass outlets, and many are developing brands aimed at consumers who shop chains and mass merchandisers.

Also a consideration for 1995 is a growing emphasis on integrating marketing and merchandising strategies for branded products, such as coordinating the same graphics and visuals in national ad campaigns with point-of-sale materials.

While the cleavage-enhancing phenomenon has been written about endlessly, the call for plumper bustlines is expected to continue fueling the bra boom into next year. Daywear and sleepwear makers, too, plan on showing more silhouettes that spotlight the bust, such as sleep gowns, chemises and teddies with built-in padded or molded bras; at-homewear firms will be doing more loungers, house dresses and jumpsuits with Empire treatments and lower-cut necklines, and prettier, lace-trimmed looks that softly emphasize the bustline will be key in shapewear.

The top classifications for 1995, however, will continue to be the ideas that fueled the concept of a lingerie wardrobe. In bras, that means padded, push-up numbers; smooth, seamless styles, and lightweight, gossamer sheer looks.Other ideas that are expected to be hits in 1995 are:

Anything dressy looking that has lots of sex appeal.

More bustiers.

Texture and more texture, such as pleating, piqués, and rib and waffle patterns.

Allover stretch lace looks like camisoles, bodysuits and baby T-shirts.

Expanded cosmetic shades, and gold tones, from metallic to matte.

Romantic-looking sleepwear, especially with froths of lace.

More dual-purpose slipdresses, chemises and pajamas.

Robes with lots of novelty trims.

Here and on pages 10 and 12 are reports on what's coming in the key innerwear categories for 1995.

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