By  on June 1, 1994

LOS ANGELES -- Swimwear manufacturers here are adding dual-purpose bodywear and active sport lines to spice up sales.

After seeing swimwear being worn as bodywear for a couple of years, vendors have decided to take another step forward to capitalize on this demand for items that can be worn to the gym and on the street.

Suezann Klein, president of Nice Inc., maker of Charlene Tilton Swimwear, said an activewear line called Charlene Tilton Athletic was introduced in April because of what was seen on the streets.

The fall collection is offered in muted browns and forest green, and wholesales from $18.75 for leggings to $28 for a catsuit. Styles of sueded Supplex nylon and Lycra spandex include leggings, bike shorts, sweat pants and pull-on pants.

First-year sales for the activewear are projected at $2 million, said Klein. She noted that the four-year-old line of swimwear is expected to generate $3 million in 1994.

Tilton's activewear is being sold to specialty stores and to ValueVision, a Midwest home shopping network.

Junior swimwear vendors Mossimo and Baja Blue, a division of Beach Patrol, also are taking advantage of the popularity of bodywear and active sport looks.

First-season sales for Mossimo Body are quadruple the original projections, according to Susan Crank, president of Lunada Bay, Mossimo's parent company, although she wouldn't cite specific figures.

"Taking advantage of our expertise in Lycra, we entered the bodywear market," she explained.

Wholesale prices for Mossimo Body start at $12 for underwire bra tops of cotton and Lycra spandex and go to $30 for cotton fleece warmup jackets. Other styles include leotards, cuffed bike shorts, leggings and Tactel nylon mesh tops. Colors are charcoal, black and wheat.

Baja Blue's bodywear venture began 1 1/2 years ago when the company created Baja Blue Body. The firm decided to merge the swimwear and bodywear divisions for fall and shed the Baja Blue Body label.

Howie Greller, executive vice president of Beach Patrol, said the reason was to "merge the two lines into a contemporary lifestyle approach."

The bodywear collection for fall will be shown at ISAM in July under the Baja Blue label. Bodywear styles to be merchandised with swimwear include coordinating bike shorts, leggings and warm-up jackets, all of cotton and Lycra.Wholesale prices will start at $10 for crop tops and go to $18 for biketards.

Colors will be black, white, gray, silver, neon pink and green.

"Bodywear just seems a natural after working with the body for so many years," said designer Anne Cole, who launched Faux Fitness, a line of bodywear and some coordinating activewear items in April at the Bloomingdale's flagship in New York.

The veteran swim- wear designer described her bodywear designs as whimsical.

"It pokes fun at exercise by allowing women to look like they go to the gym even if they do not," said Cole.

Cole would not predict sales but said the bodywear line has been generating a 20 percent weekly sell-through at Bloomingdale's since its introduction.

The bodywear collection of black and white striped cotton and Lycra and nylon and Lycra features crop tops, bike shorts, running pants and sporty tank dresses.

Wholesale prices start at $16 for a crop top and go to $29 for pull-on pants or a slip dress.

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