By  on August 14, 2006

NEW YORK — The spring market here ended up being a high-traffic, fast-paced, two-week affair featuring a plethora of trends.

The first half kicked off with the three-day Lingerie Americas trade show, which closed Aug. 1 and drew 2,709 retailers, reflecting a 2 percent increase over the year-ago session. The intimates fair also featured two new segments that received positive reactions from merchants: fashion runway shows staged three times daily highlighting lingerie, sleepwear and swimwear, and an expanded exhibit space called The Level on the fifth floor of the Metropolitan Pavilion, a venue for 45 fashion brands, such as René Rofé and Playboy Intimates.

Key trends included

  • Retro floral prints.
  • Bold colors, such as pink, green, yellow, mauve and blue.
  • Luxe fabrics, such as silk charmeuse, pima cottons and cotton lawn, and an abundance of sheers including tulle, chiffon and georgette.
  • Blatantly sexy bra and panty sets, especially boudoir looks dressed up with short, seductive robes.
The momentum picked up at Madison Avenue showrooms such as the Warnaco Group with the Warner's and Olga labels; Movie Star Inc.; Vanity Fair and Vassarette; the Age Group with the Flora Nikrooz and licensed Baby Phat Intimates by Kimora Lee Simmons collections; Maidenform Inc. with the Maidenform, Flexees and Lilyette bra brands, and Sara Lee Intimate Apparel, which unveiled its Bali, Wonderbra, Barely There, Playtex, Hanes and Just My Size lines for spring selling.

The pace also accelerated at showrooms with brands that received dual exposure at Lingerie Americas, including the Natori, Josie Natori and Josie brands by the Natori Co.; Hanky Panky; Vera Wang Intimates, Eileen West and Donna Nadeau at the Komar Co.; Elle Macpherson Intimates, and the Carole Hochman Design Group, which showcased several labels including Oscar de la Renta, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Betsey Johnson Intimates, Stan Herman and On Gossamer.

A number of vendors said two heavy hitters in a shrinking market place — Federated Department Stores and Kohl's Corp. — were making the rounds last week.

Also lending excitement were two events: the first Lingerie for the Cure fashion show and cocktail party staged by the Boutique Lingerie Show, a compact trade fair at the Royalton Hotel organized by designer Samantha Chang, and a cocktail party and fashion show at the Wacoal America showrooms. The Wacoal soiree, which was staged for specialty boutique buyers, highlighted new styles by the DKNY Underwear and Donna Karan Intimates lines, as well as new Wacoal G cup bra styles.Regarding retailers' perspectives on the two-week market, Rebecca Apsan, owner of La Petite Coquette, a specialty store in Manhattan, said, "All in all, it was a good market and I ended up very pleased with everything. What I really liked were the sexy fashion items from Argentovivo, the beautiful sleepwear and robes by Jane Woolrich, and Huit — I was crazy about their bras and panties."

Kristine Cole, owner of Remembrance, a lingerie shop in Hanover, N.H., said, "Lingerie Americas and the French brands have become an important part of my business, which continues to provide more than basics for my customers. Wacoal is my bread-and-butter brand, but I'm layering that with Simone Pérèle this year."

Linda Vinciguerra, owner of Linda Lingerie in Staten Island, N.Y., said "anything sexy-looking" was her mission.

"I do well with tummy-control leggings by Spanx and items by BodyWrap, and anything from Fashion Forms like the Water Bra, and bras with whipped silicone push-up pads sell very well," Vinciguerra said. "I get a lot of customers who are well endowed, whether implants or naturally, so my top bras are Chantelle and the Le Mystère Renaissance bras."

Donna Goetz, owner of The Hope Chest, an intimate apparel shop in Haverford, Pa., said, "This time, I was trying to get in touch with good basics. I looked at companies I don't normally spend a lot of time on for items that were new and hot."

Goetz singled out four brands: Louis Féraud knit sleepwear, Hanro sleepwear and daywear, cashmere robes by Chris Arlotta and "sexy and different-looking" bras and panties by Spoylt.

"I still love Chantelle because they've done such a great job with T-shirt bras and they continue to do new things with G cups," said Karen Fritts, owner of Loretta's lingerie boutique in Houston. "My best-selling bra right now is the Fantasie of England T-shirt bra. I'm now seriously considering ordering fashion items from Empreinte, which does fuller cups and band sizes."

Brenda M. Meadows, owner of The Lingerie Shoppe in Birmingham, Ala., said she was "very pleased" with the abundance of fashion and new products. She singled out items at four showrooms of sales representatives: the Bonsoir, Treesha and Sassybax brands at Olivia Feldman; Rocketwear and slippers by Naples at Linda Hartman; Calida and Aubade at Claudia Driggs, and Diamond T at the Nitewear Network."Wacoal, Chantelle and Le Mystère are my key [bra] brands, but this time I added special-looking bras by Simone Pérèle to the mix," said Meadows.

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