By  on March 2, 1994

NEW YORK -- Tiny tops are a big draw with retailers this spring, as junior customers top off loose-fitting or snug jeans.

Whether it's gauze tanks or ribbed and smocked shrunken T-shirts, as long as a style shows some skin, it's selling in the junior market.

"We have had great success with tiny ribbed tops," so far this spring, said Arlene Goldstein, director of fashion at Parisian, based in Birmingham, Ala. "We also have a stars-and-stripes woven top that's been a big hit, and a tie-front fringed woven shirt from Union Bay has been selling well."

Other top styles include "any kind of vest; it doesn't matter what kind," Goldstein said, as well as T-shirts with ecological messages on them and basic T-shirts with picot trim. The color palette has tended toward muted tones rather than brights, she said.

For fall, she predicted textured velvets and novelty sweaters such as chenille or patchwork will spark the tops business.

At Macy's East, fashion director Benny Lin said crop tops are by far the number one trend in knits or sheer T-shirt lingerie looks.

"Bodysuits in cotton and Lycra spandex continue to be strong, as well as all athletic wear, such as the Adidas-inspired looks," he said. "It's been a knit-driven business."

Patchwork looks, which hit the market two or three seasons ago, have begun to reach a wider audience, Lin said. For summer, he expects to see business in brightly colored tank tops; for fall, knits such as mohair sweaters will be key, "but we're still talking about shrunken," said Lin.

Ilene Cohen, vice president and merchandise manager for the Henry Doneger Buying Office here, said that she's seen the patriotic motif do well for her clients this season.

"Anything Americana, like patchwork or stars-and-stripes" is performing, she said. "They're also interested in smocking as a treatment in woven tops, and puckering in knits. Some of our best re-orders have been in solid color textured bodysuits, to wear with denim short-alls."

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