By  on August 6, 2007

NEW YORK — New product and a flurry of fashion brands are likely to be the driving forces at this week's intimates market.

After strong sales of luxury lingerie and fashion items at retail this spring, vendors are looking for robust business for next spring and summer.

This year's format is different for a number of vendors because of a shorter time frame to preview or present spring and early summer goods, the result of paring down seasonal markets to four editions from five. Despite the rush to get new ideas and items ready to display under tighter deadlines, the message is clear: appointment books are full and retailers are expected to be highly demanding when it comes to fashion, innovation and specialty goods that offer value and a certain cachet.

The newness will be emerging from several areas:

- The launch of Josie foundations, and an expansion of lifestyle pieces with a sportswear twist by Josie at-homewear.

- The introduction of a licensed collection of sleepwear by Lilly Pulitzer at Carole Hochman Design Group.

- New concepts such as a bra style at Wacoal America Inc. called The Top Solution that enhances diminished body tone.

- A melting pot of up-and-coming designer names and established brands from the U.S., Canadian and European markets at two trade shows in Manhattan: the Lingerie Americas trade fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building, and the Boutique Lingerie show at Morgans Hotel.

Richard Murray, president of Wacoal America, said August typically is not a big market for bra companies, but he believes the accelerated timing will present opportunities.

"Normally, our big markets are May and November," Murray said. "The change from five to four markets has had the biggest impact on sleepwear companies. It hasn't affected us as much in the bra business. But it does get a little complicated, since we would have typically previewed [spring] and have had business discussions in January. Now, there's not much time to preview. It's an inconvenience, but not a problem."

Regarding the mood of the market, he said, "Business has been good. We're not anticipating any major problems at market and hopefully there will be some opportunities."Murray added that Wacoal will target specialty stores, adding, "We have to make our presence known better and get in deeper with them."

Victor Lee, president of NAP Inc., said, "Business has been pretty good at retail and wholesale across the board, whether it's a luxe line like Princesse Tam Tam or our Docker's business. Everyone has booked appointments, including all of the major stores and boutiques. We expect a very nice turnout."

Gwen Widell, senior vice president of merchandising at Wacoal, described the kickoff of The Top Solution as a "major launch."

"We think this is a big idea and we want to showcase it," Widell said. "It's a bra that's the perfect option for women with diminished body tone at the top of their breasts. This unique design fills the gap at the top of the bra, which is embedded with soft padding, similar to the padding at the bottom of a bra cup."

The specialty bra will be rendered in a dull-luster satin in nude and black.

Josie Natori, chief executive officer of the Natori Co., said, "All of our major customers will be in, and we'll be showing spring-summer across the board at our Madison Avenue showrooms and Lingerie Americas. The big focus will be the launch of the entire Josie lifestyle statement, which will feature a new logo. Basically, it's sportswear separates, including organic items."

Natori noted that the introduction of Josie bras, which will be featured on mannequins posed on a fashion runway at a cocktail party on Tuesday, will "express the new contemporary lifestyle statement by Josie inside-out, in its entirety.

"We will also have a huge focus on beaded, Marrakesh-inspired cover-ups in the Cruz and Natori collections," she said. "There will be a lot of tunics and shirt dressing."

The upscale Josie Natori collection will highlight a variety of new tops in "soft, sexy fabrics" including viscose jersey, bamboo blends with silk and cotton, and cotton with spandex, she said.

Seth Morris, president of Carole Hochman Design Group, said the firm anticipates a strong response to the Lilly Pulitzer sleepwear launch, as well as the introduction of the Carole Hochman Midnight brand, which has a "little sexier bent compared with classic Carole Hochman sleepwear."Morris said the licensed line of Jockey sleepwear will feature a new, contemporary segment with fitted silhouettes, while OnGossamer, a daywear, bra and undies brand, will offer six new constructed bra styles for deliveries slated August through October.

Stan Herman, designer of his namesake line of robes and at-homewear at the Hochman firm, said he will be showing items for Mother's Day gift giving, as well as a preview of spring-summer.

"We have a tight but smart little line with colors I call sexy pales," said Herman, noting that prints and textures include a "floating leaf" motif and a baby terry fabric that gives the illusion of a sprinkled Swiss dot pattern.

"We have a sexy shower wrap that looks like a dress, but the real focus will be loungewear and poolside dressing," he said. "That was very important to me. We'll have new hangtags to go with the lounge and poolside looks like 'At-Home and At-Play' and 'Wrapup and Coverup.'"

Michelle Clark, senior vice president of merchandising at Movie Star Inc., said, "We continue to build our sexy category, and we'll be introducing a line of baby dolls in cotton knit and polyester rayon, soft drapey fabrics by Cinema Etoile. We'll also be doing the boudoir niche with more bustiers and teddys. Another huge focus will be bridal at key price points, prices that retail under $30."

Clark added that an exclusive line, called Movie Star, introduced for holiday for Dillard's will be expanded.

"It's more upscale, high-fashion and sophisticated, with sexy daywear and long gowns," Clark said.

Baby dolls retail for $70 and long gowns are $100.

Maria Scotto, designer of the line of sleepwear and robes that bear her name, said, "The reason I'm expecting a pretty good turnout is quite a few smaller specialty stores didn't come to the February market. Because of that, I'll be showing immediate merchandise and early spring. I have a lot of boutiques from Florida who want resort looks."

Scotto said her collection will include darker colors in black and brown "because I had very good reaction to those colors in February," as well as a new lace treatment with rhinestones around the necklines of sleep gowns and robes.

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