By and  on January 10, 1994

NEW YORK -- Sportswear manufacturers -- from designer to junior -- say they're facing the official opening of the summer market this week in an energized mood.

Spring bookings at a number of firms have shown at least moderate increases, and vendors who have already moved into summer report orders are up. An increased focus on wear-now merchandising is helping to give the short summer-delivery period more impact.

While white and neutrals are still the big story in designer, silver has added some flash. In the contemporary and junior markets, color and ethnic prints will give the retailer more options. As for hemlines, short is the top trend.

Reflecting the wear-now strategy, the Donna Karan Collection comprises pieces that are "summer necessities," said the company. Cotton poplin, matte jersey and silk taffeta are Karan's fabric choices for summer, which begins booking this week.

Calvin Klein Collection's summer bookings open in about a week, said Susan Sokol, president of Collection. She expects orders to be up about 10 percent over last year.

"The summer season is growing for us, in terms of sales. It's definitely wear-now, wear-to-the-office summer clothes," she said.

Klein ships summer from mid-April through May. After that, Sokol maintains, the designer customer is thinking about her fall wardrobe. Denise Seegal, president of DKNY, said that summer bookings, which are complete, were up about 10 percent over last year, driven by white, navy and silver sportswear looks and activewear pieces for warm-weather wear. Particularly strong sellers were the overall dresses with metal hardware, said Seegal, and the stretch active items, including the long lightweight nylon anoraks.

Andrew Rosen, president of Anne Klein & Co., said that since spring business for Collection was up strongly over last year, he's looking forward to summer "having the same momentum."

He noted that of the firm's two bridge divisions, Anne Klein II's summer business is up just slightly A Line Anne Klein, the more casual division that focuses on items, could see bookings double over last year, he said, because of the importance of items in summer selling.

Tahari's late spring bookings are up substantially over last year, said Tom Murry, president. Its true summer group is shipped in April, said Murry, but a May delivery was added this year, because he felt the company was otherwise missing out on wear-now summer purchases.

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