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Donna and Giorgio Get Intimate

Two major players will be making a grand entrance into the designer lingerie field for spring.

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Two major players will be making a grand entrance into the designer lingerie field for spring. Emporio Armani Underwear is launching a collection of intimates for the first time in the U.S., and Donna Karan Intimates is relaunching its eclectic styles for lounging, playing and sleeping.

This story first appeared in the August 4, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

EMPORIO ARMANI UNDERWEAR

Giorgio Armani is set to launch today its first full collection of intimates for women under the Emporio Armani Underwear label in the U.S.

The spring-summer 2009 collection is aimed at major stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, and also will be sold at 12 Emporio Armani boutiques in the U.S.

“I am very pleased to finally offer the American woman the opportunity to wear my underwear designs,” said Giorgio Armani. “While researching this market, my main goal was to satisfy the specific needs of the American woman: comfort, fit, quality and, above all, great design and functionality.”

John Hooks, deputy managing director of Armani Group, would not give a first-year wholesale projection, but the line of bras, undies and daywear items could generate sales in excess of $10 million, according to industry estimates. Hooks compared expectations of the women’s collection with the men’s line that was introduced to the U.S in January.

“The men’s intimates business was far more important than our wildest expectations,” he said.

Hooks added that the provocative ad campaign with soccer star David Beckham, which Hooks dubbed “arrestive images,” which launched in 2007, was a major factor in turning Emporio Armani Underwear for men into a worldwide sensation. Emporio Armani Underwear for men and women was first launched in Europe in 1982 and select pieces have been sold at Emporio Armani boutiques in the U.S. for the past five years.

“We’re looking to do something similar in February with the women’s intimates in magazine, outdoor and viral advertising,” Hooks said. “We feel the need for an important testimonial from someone well known. It could be an international celebrity.”

The women’s intimates line features four groups, all named after flowers: Gardenia, which is based on feminine, everyday comfort; Camelia, offering basic colors and fashion shades linked to the ready-to-wear collections; Tulipano, a contemporary group in basic styles and fashion colors, and Lila, featuring an eclectic range of colors and prints. Anchored in lightweight and intricately designed lace and double-ply stretch mesh and tulle, special treatments include allover printed Emporio Armani logos, double strap treatments with minibows and hardware like the Giorgio Armani flying eagle logo.

Tops and bras, which will be sized 32A to 38DD, will retail for $40 to $50, and bottoms will be $12 to $32. There also will be a tabletop panty program of three pair for $33. The collection will be unveiled at the Giorgio Armani showrooms in New York at 114 Fifth Avenue.

“[Emporio Armani is] underepresented in the U.S.,” Hooks said. “We think intimates will make it much more visible and we are looking for opportunities to open more Emporio Armani boutiques in a number of big cities in the U.S.”

DONNA KARAN INTIMATES

Sensual comfort and sophistication for the modern woman are the hallmarks of the two new collections of intimate apparel and at-homewear by Donna Karan Intimates.

The lines are being unveiled today in New York for spring by two new licensees — bras and shapewear is being produced and distributed by Maidenform, and sleepwear and loungewear by The Komar Co. The licenses were formerly held by Wacoal America. The combined collections will be shown at a launch party with informal modeling tonight at 475 10th Avenue.

“To me, it’s always been about the importance of what’s underneath it all that creates the foundation — clothes you wear at home have always been a blend of function and fantasy,” Donna Karan said. “I look forward to this relationship that will realize our dreams.…”

Cathy Volker, executive vice president of global licensing at Donna Karan International, added, “The collections are definitely reflective of Donna — elegant, comfortable clothes that you just can’t wait to come home and put on. This isn’t about peignoir sets. This is about how women live, how Donna lives, about real women who live real lifestyles. Just because you’re going to bed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look sexy and fabulous.”

Regarding the coordination of both collections, Volker said, “Although they are two separate licensees, we did coordinate the development to make sure there were the same fabrics, colors and laces.”

A first-year wholesale sales projection was not available. However, both lines, including DKNY intimates introduced in May by Maidenform and the Komar firm, should generate more than $30 million, according to industry sources.

The DKI sleepwear and lounge pieces are rendered in supersoft and pliable fabrics such as washable silk jersey and satin-faced georgette, and rayon and silk knits. Bras and shapers have a sleek, sculpted look in stitch-free, ultrasonic heat-sealed designs of microfiber, nylon and spandex.

Shapers, which are sized S, M and L, feature monotone embroidered-pattern treatments that are engineered for control for problem areas. Bras, which will be available in sizes 32B to 38DD, feature special effects like embossed New York logos on the inside of straps that prevent slippage. Suggested retail for the bras will be $72 to $82, panties will be $30 to $34 and shapers will sell for $52 to $76.

Volker noted that cashmere, a staple of the Donna Karan Intimates brand, will continue to be a key classification in silhouettes, including trapeze-shaped tops, pull-on pants, boxers and easy, long wrap robes.

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