By  on March 3, 1994

NEW YORK -- Vendors of robes and at-home wear are heeding those fabled words of advice from SA: Cut velvet.

Velvet looks were hot last fall and holiday, they say, and they plan to show more velvet looks at the early fall market in March.

Manufacturers say they have been getting a lot of requests for dressier styles in velvet and velvet-like velour and panne that can be worn to entertain at home or to go out on the town. Looks include pajama sets, robes and zip-front loungers.

Special treatments also are in demand, say vendors, such as embroideries, appliques, pearl trims, sequins and quilted effects.

Kathleen Weir, president of the Warnaco Designer Sleepwear Division, commented, "Stores did well with velvets for fall and holiday selling in the higher price range, and they now are looking for newness in the classification at lower prices. In March, we'll be offering more velvet items than we have in the past."

Weir noted that one velvet kimono was featured in the licensed Valentino Intimo line last March. No velvets were done last year in the licensed Scaasi line, she said.

Two robes and one long gown of black rayon velvet will be featured in Warnaco's Valentino Intimo line of sleepwear, and two items will be shown in the Scaasi line -- a long wrap robe in midnight navy rayon velvet lined in bordeaux polyester charmeuse, and a pleated and crushed panne jacket. The jacket will come in midnight navy and bordeaux and will be merchandised with pants of polyester charmeuse.

The Valentino robes will feature gold embroideries and embroidered quilted treatments; the gown -- a similar silhouette seen in Valentino couture -- will have a keyhole effect at the top of each shoulder, she said.

Wholesale prices for the Valentino Intimo and Scaasi sleepwear were not set at press time.

Mel Knigin, president of the Cinema Etoile division at Movie Star Inc., said a dimple-textured panne of acetate that was used in the daywear division last year, will be introduced in a dozen styles of robes and at-home wear this March. The panne will continue to be done in daywear.While all of the styles were not finalized, Knigin said there will be zip-front hostess gowns, wrap robes, pajamas and possibly a jumpsuit. Wholesale prices hadn't been finalized for this line of robes and at-home wear, going into its second year.

"We are projecting the line of robes and loungewear will generate sales of $6 million in 1994," said Knigin, noting that first-year sales were $4.5 million.

"I'm getting more requests from retailers for dressy, embellished at-home wear looks in velvet," said Tom Bezduda, designer of Cinema Etoile Robes and Loungewear.

"Velvet is a classification that sort of slipped over the past couple of years with manufacturers, but it did very well for fall and holiday. The customer is definitely telling us something," he said.

At Periphery Inc., Michael Lewis, vice president of sales and marketing, said several panne robes will be shown in the Periphery line of robes and sleepwear, a new moderate-price division. One at-home wear style of panne will also be done, he said.

Kathleen Usherwood, designer of the better-price Kathleen Usherwood for Periphery line, observed, "We have just about doubled the number of items in velvet and panne this year. We've increased the number of styles because we did very well with the classification last year."

Dernier Chic, a two-year-old young designer firm, will use silk panne for the first time in March, said Linda Gottlieb, designer and an owner.

The two styles -- a long wrap robe wholesaling for $1,250 and a wide-leg pant for $600 -- were previewed this month at Premier Collection, an rtw trade show. Gottlieb said she sold a dozen panne pants at the show. In May, she said she will add four more panne items: a long gown, a waistcoat, a shawl, and a second style of pants.

Colors are black, claret and silver.

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