By  on March 17, 1994

NEW YORK -- Playtex and Gossard are taking the Bra Wars from Britain to the U.S..

The clash over cleavage began to take shape Tuesday when Gossard introduced its new Super-Uplift bras at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship with a barrage of ballyhoo.

Playtex, a division of innerwear giant Sara Lee Intimates, plans to introduce its competing Wonderbra -- an established breast-booster in the U.K. -- to the U.S. by May 1.

Gossard -- a British foundations division of Courtaulds Textiles PLC -- had produced the Wonderbra in the U.K. for 25 years under license from Playtex Apparel. The license was taken back by Playtex at last year, as part of Playtex's campaign to build its market share in the U.K. Sales of the Wonderbra were $15 million in the U.K. last year.

To fill the void, Gossard developed the Super-Uplift bra, which has been on sale in Europe since January and has been wear-tested in the U.K. for 18 months, according to Gossard.

At the Saks event -- predictably covered by news cameras -- 100 of the Super-Uplift bras were given away to 100 customers who presented mailers. The store had sent out 2,000 such mailers, and the bras were dispensed on a first-come, first-served basis between 10 a.m. and noon.

When the store opened at 10 a.m., about a dozen women seeking what Gossard calls "miracle cleavage" had already queued up in front of one of Saks' express elevators. The Saks promotion was preceded by preview selling of the bras over the weekend.

Over a four-day period through Tuesday, 200 of the Wonderbras were sold, according to Kim Anderson-Curry, vice president and divisional merchandise manager.

"It's an excellent response, and we'll be doing the same promotion in Beverly Hills this Friday," she said.

The Super-Uplift comes in three styles, all padded, and all in nylon and elastane. The best-selling of the three so far is a lace-trimmed push-up number that provides what Gossard calls a "super-duper uplift" and wholesales for $19.75.

Mark Pilkington, Gossard's marketing director, who traveled here from the U.K. for the launch, said the firm's breast-enhancing styling works because the bras are "very deeply plunged, have extra firm underwires, and feature vertically angled cups that push the breasts up together."

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