By  on February 5, 2007

NEW YORK — Innerwear executives are bracing for a frenetic market week that starts today.

Some vendors and retailers will be getting off the red-eye from Paris, many cutting a day short from the Salon International de la Lingerie to be here for showroom and trade show appointments. Manufacturers generally said Madison Avenue showrooms are booked solid and many have planned a rendezvous with a slew of exhibitors at the Lingerie Americas trade fair here. The show is set for a three-day run that begins Wednesday at the Altman Building and Metropolitan Building.

The annual Femmy Awards at The Chelsea Piers, with actress Vivica A. Fox as host, will add to the energized atmosphere. More than 300 guests are expected. Also propelling momentum will be the CurveNV trade fair in Las Vegas, which will run Feb. 13 to 15, and has been a main topic of pre-market conversation among merchants and vendors.

With such a packed schedule — for which some companies got a jump-start with regional retailers last week — February has become a merry-go-round for vendors showing spring-summer deliveries to boutiques, and back-to-school, fall and early holiday lines to major stores. Before consolidating the January and March markets into a February venue, makers traditionally showed b-t-s products in November, but must now move up the time frame to accommodate retailers' needs.

While market week should be hectic, Helen McCluskey, group president of intimate apparel at The Warnaco Group, said, "We don't expect it to be any different than any other market. It's an important market, we have exciting product to show and our appointment schedule is full."

Sizing up the new schedule, Marc Kimmelman, vice president of sales at Flora Nikrooz and Baby Phat Intimates at Age Group, said, "This will indeed be an extremely busy market, between distribution to better stores and distribution to traditional department stores, we are flooded."

The Flora Nikrooz and Baby Phat lines will be exhibited at the Age Group showrooms, as well as Lingerie Americas, Kimmelman said. This will be followed by the CurveNV fair.

"We started showing to local stores the Thursday before market to get a jump start, and after the Las Vegas show, we'll once again show product to New York stores on Feb. 19 and 20,'' he said. "It's all become quite lengthy, but the amount of weeks is not the issue. It's the time we can spend with each retailer to meet their needs."Josie Natori, chairman and chief executive officer of The Natori Co., said the week will be particularly meaningful. "This will represent our 30th anniversary in business and a lot of anniversary events will be planned. At the same time, we've had so much momentum at stores this fall. It's been a banner year."

As for the pace of the New York market, Natori said she will rush back from the Paris fair to show her fall-holiday 2008 collections.

"It is what it is. We have appointments back-to-back," said Natori, noting that the at-homewear category will be "extremely important" in the Natori, Josie and Cruz collections.

Carole Hochman, chairman and design director of The Carole Hochman Design Group, said the company will launch the first line of sleepwear bearing the On Gossamer name, as well as an expanded range of constructed bras.

"We wanted to come up with something modern, something that was different," Hochman said. "We didn't want to come up with sleepwear that was so special occasion that nobody would want to wear it."

Amy Ligouri, vice president of merchandising for On Gossamer, said, "We wanted to bring fabrics that linked back to the daywear line with Modal, laces, knits, and most importantly, On Gossamer's signature mesh. We expanded these fabrics into sleepwear with items that cross over from sleepwear to daywear, and vice versa."

Addressing the pace of the market, Susan Demusis, executive vice president and general merchandise manager at the Hochman firm, said, "The problem is scheduling. A lot of people will be flying in [today] to go to the New York market. I think people will really be frazzled. But it will be the biggest market of the year with four deliveries. The regional markets have to adjust and they haven't been, so markets don't line up anymore. A lot of retailers went to the January show in L.A., as well as other markets, expecting to see new product. But they couldn't because it wasn't there yet."

Demusis added, "I have the impression that most [boutique] retailers will be wanting to leave Friday to set up for Valentine's Day."Todd Demakos, ceo of St. Eve International, said, "We have lots of appointments…we are booked up except with Frederick's of Hollywood, which is going to check out the show in Las Vegas. We'll go to Wal-Mart on the 15th, because they told us to come."

Regarding the timing of the first February market, Demakos said, "I think time will tell. There's a lot more to do in February than in January and March. It will be a very, very busy market, and there will just be too much to do in February."

Neil Mossberg, president of Yala Inc., parent company of Fernando Sanchez, said, "In terms of traffic, we have an increase of over 15 percent compared to January 2006."

Mossberg said a lot of new product will be shown in the Fernando Sanchez collection of robes and at-homewear.

"We will introduce an extension of silk, prints and embroideries," he explained. "We want to return to luxury and glamour because we think as a whole the customer is not getting a lot of that in the market right now."

He added that an expanded secondary line, FS2, will focus on innovative looks and lots of fashion at sharper price points, "allowing us to attract customers whose mothers wear Fernando Sanchez."

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