IN THE SWIM: Swimwear executives descended on The Supper Club in Midtown Manhattan Tuesday night for the industry’s annual fashion show and cocktail party. Despite this summer’s less-than-stellar weather and the unstable economy, manufacturers said their business is buoyant and were already talking up the year ahead.

Michelle Pisano, senior vice president of merchandising for Beach Patrol, a $55 million Los Angeles-based company, said, “We’re a small industry that’s very tight-knit and we all need to survive together. It’s important to have an event like this to encourage people to interact.”

While there was plenty of picture-swapping of swimmers — most of whom were executives’ children — there was also a heightened interest in fashion. Ninety-three looks were featured on the catwalk, including styles from big names like Kenneth Cole, Lucky Brand, Cole of California and Baltex, as well as lesser-known ones as Fantasizer Suit, Dippers, David & Goliath Swimwear and Athena Pick Your Fit.

“It’s good for stores to see the trends and how to present their buys,” Pisano said.

Karen Capon, communications manager at DuPont, one of the shindig’s sponsors, agreed, “It’s been a tough year for people who do a seasonal business. It’s great to show the hottest looks for 2004. It’s something to keep them intrigued and excited. There’s nothing like seeing the product on models.”

DuPont offered some guidance by kicking off the festivities with a lively video that opened with the ever-essential question, “Who is Your Customer?” and showcased a variety of trends including racer styles, yoga-inspired, fashion-forward and playful.

Of course, no party would be complete without a celebrity factor. In this case, J.Lo was accounted for in terms of her swimwear. Fresh from a trade show in London earlier this week, Bruce Waldman, merchandise manager for the Backflips-produced line, said the global reaction to the collection is surpassing the U.S. reaction — something he thought was impossible. Given that, J.Lo swimwear will double distribution to 900 doors in the next year, he said.



NIKE AT BAT: Nike has signed a five-year licensing deal with Major League Baseball Properties to produce the league’s authentic collection of performance apparel.The deal goes into effect in 2005 and extends the company’s current relationship as an MLBP licensee through the end of 2009.



FORE EVIAN: Pro golfers and duffers did their share of shopping at the Evian Masters tournament at the Royal Parc Evian in Evian, France, where 40,000 lined the course over four days last month. Thousands of Lacoste’s limited edition polo shirts with the event’s logo and Evian Master collection shirts were sold.

“They just went crazy in the shop,” an event spokesman said. Before the tournament ended on July 26, shirts were a sellout, but some can still be found online at royalparcevian.com.

In addition to shopping, some pros like Rosie Jones and Julie Inkster indulged in some pampering — complimentary massages, hairdressing and spa services. By the end of the tournament, Jones reportedly was ready to trade in her habit of sleeping in a minivan during tournaments. “They are really the queens for the week,” the spokesman explained.

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