By  on December 21, 2000

NEW YORK -- With the holidays approaching and New Year's resolutions looming, activewear retailers are seeing brisk sales for hooded sweatshirts, bra tops, snowboarding jackets and running apparel.

Shoppers are turning to specialty stores for novelty looks and to major chains for basics, according to a spot-check of nine retailers across the country this week.

At Blades Board and Skate Shops, a 16-unit East Coast specialty chain, shoppers like the looks of Spiewak's $169 fake-fur collar jackets with angle zippers at the neckline, Burton's $320 Tri-Lite shell jacket and Triple Five's $70 hooded jackets, especially ones with three-quarter length sleeves, said Evan Josloff, senior buyer.

"Snowboarding as a category is doing pretty well. That's influencing the brands," he said. "And the hooded sweatshirts are just on fire. The styles are classic and it's New York based and highlights Brooklyn and other New York logos."

The retailer is still "killing it" with black items, but gray, red and orange are also important, Josloff said.

Island Windsurfing, a 7,000-square-foot store in Middletown, R.I., is also seeing a lot of interest in $50 hooded sweatshirts from Billabong and $20 long-sleeve T-shirts with graphic designs from Roxy, said Nancy Johnson, owner.

Most shoppers know what they want when they enter the store, she said.

Other popular holiday items include jackets, hats, pants, watches, socks and shoes, as well as scooters and snowboards, said Johnson. As soon as the temperature dipped a few weeks ago, women started buying jackets from Roxy, Columbia Sportswear, Patagonia, The North Face, Burton, Betty Rides and Bonfire. About half of the customers are buying technical apparel for streetwear, Johnson said.

Equinox EnergyWear is also seeing strong sales for Blue Marlin's $60 hooded zip-front sweatshirt imprinted with New York. Another key look at the 11-unit chain is DeFeet's $9 Air-E-Ator novelty socks. Made with CoolMax nylon or MicroSupreme acrylic, the performance-oriented athletic socks carry colorful designs such as royal, magenta and green jokers or red and black chili peppers on yellow and black socks.

"They're flying out the door," an Equinox spokeswoman said. Skull caps are the rave at Crunch, a 19-unit health club and retail operation. There are two versions -- a $10 cotton cap imprinted with the company's logo,and a $19 wool blend carrying the logo and one of the seven deadly sins -- pride, lust, envy, sloth, wrath, gluttony or greed.

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