By  on April 7, 1994

NEW YORK -- Panties are getting fancier for fall.

That's the word from vendors, who report that fabrics with a dressier look, often used in combinations and made in ready-to-wear colors with textured surfaces, have helped build fall orders.

While cotton continues to be the basic panty fabric, vendors reason that the new interest in fashion pants, as in other areas of innerwear, reflects a consumer who is willing to splurge a little more as the long bout with a tough economy slowly subsides.

At the department store level, daywear cotton panties generally retail for about $3, while fashion pants typically retail between $6 and $7. The growing demand for control items is also helping to increase the average ticket.

The ideas for fall include

  • A mix of silky polyester and panne velvet.
  • Crinkle ray-on.
  • Matte-and-shine looks with Shimmereen and Matinesse nylon and Lycra spandex.
  • Shiny Antron nylon with matte elastic band treatments.
  • Floral-pattern nylon laces that have a dull and shine finish, layered over a cotton base.
  • Blends of nylon, polyester and spandex that offer support and soft comfort.
A lot of the silhouettes are softly tailored, and detailing includes metallic piping, crystal pleating and sheer and semi-sheer insets.

The best-selling silhouette continues to be the French high-cut brief, vendors say. The high-cut style -- cut high enough to reveal more of the thigh area while giving the fuller coverage of a brief -- is seen as appealing to both a younger, more contemporary customer and the misses' customer.

Clint Klein, an account executive with MRCA Information Services, Stamford, Conn., a consumer research firm, said the French high-cut brief was the top panty style at all U.S. outlets of distribution in 1993, posting a 3.5 percent sales gain in units over 1992 figures. The style accounted for 29.3 percent of unit sales of panties, according to MRCA.

The demand for more control bottoms -- ranging from light control to medium and firm support -- also grew last year, as the overall panties market registered moderate growth over the previous year.

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