NEW YORK — The latest sleepwear market analysis data from NPDFashionworld shows continued strength in private label merchandise, a growing importance in price and the increased brand power of Jones New York and Nautica.

The best-selling sleepwear brands nationwide reflected a combination of familiar names that are considered mainstream and traditional, and labels that represent a more fashionable bent and are perceived as having enhanced value.

Here are the results of the exclusive point-of-sale data given to WWD for the 2001 fourth quarter, which covers the rate of comparison for the top-selling five sleepwear brands based on dollar share:

Marshal Cohen, president of NPDFashionworld, a consumer marketing research firm based in Port Washington, N.Y., said: "There was a definite cocooning syndrome, as well as a need to buy product that made consumers feel warm and fuzzy, safe and at home. The second syndrome that occurred was the gift for loved ones and for oneself."

Cohen noted that "over 50 percent of department store sleepwear is sold via private label brands."

Regarding basics versus fashion, Cohen said: "Fashion today has taken on a more investment approach. It has to be fashions that last, not just the latest fashions. Value is also a key driver in sales today."

Cohen said the six top-selling styles were nightgowns, pajamas, robes, tops, shorts and pants.

"Consumers are telling us they plan on spending the same amount; however, they are also saying they plan on spending more for themselves to make them feel better," Cohen added. "The new world [post-Sept. 11] is about living more in the moment, and sleepwear can be a part of that."

NPDFashionworld also outlined the top 10 sleepwear brands in the department store arena:

Cohen noted that two new players entered the top five brands for the 2001 season: Jones New York, which climbed to third place from sixth, and Nautica, which rose to the fifth from ninth.

As for price issues, Cohen said: "A staggering 77 percent of fourth-quarter 2001 women’s sleepwear sales in department stores are under $30 compared to 63 percent a year earlier. Private label continues to dominate the sleepwear business."

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