By  on November 28, 2005

NEW YORK — Passport Panties are taking off at 200 specialty boutiques in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.

The concept — a sort of travel emergency kit for women on the go — was developed after an encounter at the Carlyle Hotel here, where designer Kimberly Howard, her twin sister, Mary Kay Bowden, and best friend, Morgan Harbin, met for drinks.

"We wanted to create a savvy solution for predicaments that modern women on the go face," Howard said. "So we thought, 'Let's make something pink and cute, modeled after a U.S. passport,' and we gave the panty motif wings."

The concept was unveiled in July. In addition to one pair of girlish mesh panties, the laminated pink kit contains items Howard said are essential for women who travel: breath mints, deodorant, stress relief lotion, a cleansing towelette and a mini tube of hair spray.

There are three selections: the Primping Panty, the Perfect Panty and the Predicament Panty kit, which includes a hand sanitizer and chocolates. Suggested retail is $24.

Howard would not give a first-year sales projection, but she noted that "an average boutique invests between $700 and $1,000" when making a purchase.

"It's really become an impulse purchase, a girl-to-girl kind of gift item or a mother-daughter gift item," she said. "We are thinking of doing more travel emergency-related accessories and apparel in the future, like slippers and sleepwear."

Howard said a new project will be launched in January: a Panty-of-the-Month Club.

"There will be a different passport every month," she said. "January will be the Party Panty and February will be the Pink Heart Panty, while July will be the Patriotic Panty and September will be the Preppy Panty."

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