By  on May 5, 1994

NEW YORK -- The cleavage war is escalating.

Following the barrage of publicity generated by the introduction of the Super-Uplift bra in the U.S. in March by British manufacturer Gossard, more makers are scrambling to get into the act with their own renditions of super push-up bras that enhance cleavage.

Super-Uplift is Gossard's replacement for the Wonderbra, which it produced under license for 25 years in Europe. That license was taken back at the start of the year by Sara Lee Corp., which is introducing direct marketing of the Wonderbra to the U.S. through Sara Lee Foundations.

Sara Lee's Wonderbra will make its official debut at next week's May market and will be previewed in certain stores at the same time.

Others now getting into the fray with new or revamped and renamed push-up bras include Vanity Fair Mills' Vanity Fair and Vassarette brands, Maidenform, Warner's by Warnaco and Wacoal by Wacoal America.

The press coverage is already having an impact at retail.

Laurie Black, divisional vice president of intimate apparel at Nordstrom, noted: "All the hype has brought that classification of bras to the customers' attention. Over the past couple of months, we've doubled the push-up bra segment of our business over a year ago."

Some manufacturers say they've been working nonstop for two months to come up with an appropriate product and promotion, with deliveries for some of the new entries scheduled to start June 25. Firms are planning aggressive initial production, running as high as 200,000 units.

While push-up and demi-cup bras have been a hot classification for two years, some vendors say the current hoopla has made it necessary to address the demand for more cleavage with promotions and gimmicks.

Why all the excitement?

"Women just want to look sexy," summed up Linda J. Wachner, president, chairman and chief executive officer of The Warnaco Group. "It also has to do with everything happening in ready-to-wear. You need to see a pretty bra under sheer apparel, a bra that gives uplift and cleavage."

The components that typically give that extra lift include non-stretch straps that lift the underwire frame, vertical seaming that pushes together, and additional fiberfill padding in the cups as well as fiberfill "cookies" -- removable pads.

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