SHEER SPRING SEEN BOOSTING SPECIAL ITEMS
Byline: Karyn Monget
NEW YORK — Spring and summer, retailers say, could be a bonanza for specialty innerwear items, including control and noncontrol body liners and a variety of convertible bras.
Women will want to go sheer but not bare everything. They’ll be looking for undergarments to wear under transparent ready-to-wear looks and dresses with assorted cut-out treatments such as halter tops, one-shoulder styles and low-cut backs.
Key innerwear items cited by retailers to wear under sheer apparel include cami bras, teddys, all-in-one body briefers and full and half-slips. Some full slips also are done in one-shoulder styles or feature asymmetrical necklines.
Sales of molded, seamless convertible specialty bras are being singled out as a dual-purpose classification for spring, primarily because they give a smooth silhouette and can be adapted to different necklines.
“The innerwear industry had a lot of these items two years ago, but all of a sudden the ready-to-wear industry is pushing sheer looks big-time,” said Iris LeBron, fashion director of intimate apparel at DuPont.
LeBron predicted that bodystockings — in opaque or sheer knits or in lace — will make a comeback.
“I think body liners and specialty bras are going to be big news,” said Stephanie Zernik, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel and hosiery at Bloomingdale’s. “At the January market, I reviewed specialty items with buyers to make sure we would have them for direct marketing materials — and to make sure we would have enough merchandise to meet consumer demand.”
Zernik said body liners and specialty bras will be featured in all of Bloomingdale’s full price innerwear fashion advertising for spring. Bloomingdale’s will also feature a variety of control and noncontrol body liners and convertible bras in “Intimacies,” its annual intimate apparel mailer, which will be mailed in March.
“But education is the key for us, and we’ll need to educate our buyers and sales associates as well as consumers about these specialty items,” Zernik continued. She added that teleconferencing seminars are being planned chainwide to train ready-to-wear and innerwear sales associates. Fashion offices at the Bloomingdale’s units will be doing seminars, she said.
Key specialty labels at Bloomingdale’s will include Bodyslimmers by Nancy Ganz, Olga Secret Shapers, On Gossamer and Donna Karan Intimates by Wacoal, Zernik said.
Margaret Crandall, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel at Jacobson Stores, Jackson, Mich., said, “Our customer is conservative, so the challenge for us will be to show her how to wear sheer and be comfortable.
“We would like to develop meetings for the entire buying staffs, including ready-to-wear buyers, and we are letting our sales staffs know what these specialty products are and how to sell them.”
She singled out Olga Secret Shapers as a key resource.
Also, a Jacobson’s statement enclosure at the end of February will feature all-in-one control body briefers to wear under sheer apparel. One style is by Valentino Intimo by Warnaco, and the other is Smoothie by Strouse, Adler, Crandall said.
Regarding specialty bras, Crandall said: “We think it’s going to be a very strong category for us, especially because prom dresses and evening dresses this year have a lot of cut-out treatments.”
“We are now putting our summer catalog together, and we will probably feature more body liners,” said Dennis Warden, vice president and general merchandise manager of the Catalog Division of Frederick’s of Hollywood.
Warden said styles to be featured would most likely include strapless teddys, strapless bodystockings and lace-trimmed cami bras, which have been a top-selling classification over the past year.
“We’ll want to show something pretty — you know, so everything doesn’t all hang out,” Warden said.
Patty Griffith, daywear and underwear buyer for J.C. Penney retail and catalog operations, singled out Slip Liners by Vanity Fair as big-selling items. She said orders have been increased for spring for two full-slip styles — a 20-inch length and a 32-inch length — for “700 top stores.”