By  on September 21, 2011

Michael Kors is launching a full-scale men’s underwear program this fall as the company continues to expand its men’s business. The initiative includes underwear, loungewear and sleepwear that will make its debut in about 100 doors of Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s at the end of this month, with Neiman Marcus to be added for holiday.

“Men’s fashion is really all about the details, having classic but strong basics to build from,” said designer Michael Kors. “I’m pleased to be expanding further into the category.”

The line was developed and distributed by PVH Corp.’s underwear group, whose owned and licensed brands in the category include Tommy Hilfiger, Izod, Chaps, Geoffrey Beene, Van Heusen and Jerry Garcia.

“The launch of the new underwear collection is a natural progression into the men’s business,” said John Idol, chief executive officer of Michael Kors, which is majority owned by Sportswear Holdings Ltd. “Our existing men’s sportswear business along with tailored clothing and furnishings has grown rapidly. We have perfected the product and I think the Michael Kors customer will see that we’ve paid special attention to design and quality.”

Boxer briefs are packaged two to a box and briefs come in three-packs, ranging in price from $29 to $34. Fashion styles in microfiber and Modal are displayed on hangers and retail for $28 each.

The line also includes T-shirts, shorts, lounge pants and pajama bottoms. The color palette is largely black, white, gray and powder blue with new colors to be injected seasonally.

An advertising campaign supporting the launch breaks in October men’s books, including GQ, Men’s Health and Out. An outdoor campaign launches in coming weeks, including billboards in Times Square and on Sunset Boulevard, as well as bus shelters.

Packaging for the underwear features both male and female models, as well, in a departure from competing brands. The top-selling underwear bottoms brands in department stores are Calvin Klein, Jockey, Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren, according to The NPD Group. The category rang up sales of $197.3 million in department stores for the 12 months ended in July.

“This is a sexy, contemporary line in partnership with one of the most dynamic designers in the marketplace today,” said Mitchell Lechner, president of PVH’s dress shirt and underwear group. “Underwear is a fast-growing category for us and we are modeling it after our success in other furnishings areas, bringing in great brands with multiple channels of distribution.”

PVH already markets dress shirts and neckwear under license for both the Michael Kors collection label and Michael Michael Kors better line. The latter bears a beige label, with shirts retailing for $59.50, while the collection business is divided into a lower-priced silver label, with shirts retailing for $60 to $80, and a higher-priced brown label, with shirts retailing for $90 to $160.

“It affords us the opportunity to be successful in different channels and have different product for Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue — which speaks to the strength of the Michael Kors brand,” explained Lechner.

Michael Kors has no plans to launch a women’s underwear program at this time, according to the company.

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