WHERE’S THE BODYWEAR?
Byline: Holly Haber
As bodywear and activewear intermingle, the question of where and how to house bodywear in stores these days has become increasingly problematic. With this article, WWD begins a periodic series touring big stores to see just where bodywear is being situated.
DALLAS — Bodywear at Dillard’s store at NorthPark Center here is like Cinderella who somehow got to the ball — but is still desperately in need of a fairy godmother.
The store is the largest Dillard’s in the city and something of a showcase. The past year saw the conclusion of a huge project to completely remodel the unit and expand it from three to four floors for a total of 300,000 square feet.
Among the improvements: marble floors, better lighting and bigger dressing rooms with buzzers to call assistance.
Besides Dillard’s, NorthPark’s anchors are Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor and J.C. Penney. The center also houses Barneys New York, J. Crew, Coach, Joan and David, Bally, Tootsies and a slew of chain stores, from Brookstone and Banana Republic to Liz Claiborne and the Nature Co.
Despite the gleaming renovation at Dillard’s, the bodywear department, however, doesn’t appear to have been a target for development. Most of it is squeezed into the back of the junior department at the far corner of the third floor. The fixtures are so close together it makes walking through the department a challenge. Here are such brands as Danskin, Mossimo, Baryshnikov, YMLA, Liz Bodywear and Aero, secluded in an area of about 300 square feet.
Bodywear by Nike, however, was apart but equally hidden. Nike’s red, black and white bra tops, bike shorts and warm-up jackets were tucked onto the side wall of an area packed with brightly colored nylon and satin jogging suits, embellished sweatshirts and thermal tops and pants.
Dubbed “Dillard’s Athletic Club,” this department was decorated with abstract symbols of various sports, including bicycling and aerobics.
The area housing the bulk of the bodywear offerings was marked by smaller, less visible signs of the same sports symbols.
There, clingy workout clothes shared space with sweatshirts, sweatpants and T-shirts by Dillard’s own On Your Mark label, which were prominently, if sloppily, on display on a table at the front of the department, much of the merchandise unfolded.
Flanking that table was Dillard’s most fashionable bodywear. Mossimo’s fuzzy bouclA gray and mink cropped T-shirts and matching shorts were eye-catching, along with two styles by Baryshnikov — cropped tops and matching bike shorts in a black flocked stretch fabric and a red knit topstitched in black.
Also earning aisle-side display was a four-way rack of Danskin’s bright printed tank leotards, crop tops, leggings and bike shorts. The brand seemed to have the most space, claiming another rack hung with similar styles in basic black, navy and red.
Toward the back of the department was more basic bodywear — navy, black, red and white styles by Baryshnikov.
More fashion looks by Mossimo were easily visible on the center of the department’s back wall, including a black satin push-up bra top with matching shorts, black and white plaid bodywear, and some heather gray numbers with purple, corset-like trim.
Shelves stood on both sides of the Mossimo wall display, bearing another unkempt assemblage of more On Your Mark sweatshirts and sweatpants in red, purple, yellow and other brights.
Liz Bodywear, including leotards and T-shirts trimmed with a preppy navy, green and red diamond motif, stretched along a portable rack inside the department.
Nearby, YMLA’s slinky black rayon bodywear looked like activewear for the nightclubber, and a slim assortment of styles by Aero offered a few more variations on the crop-top bike-short theme.
Filling out the assortment was a rounder of goods marked 50 percent off, including leggings by On Your Mark, Line-Up golfwear and a variety of printed pieces by Danskin.
Dillard’s bodywear department covered the bases — with basics and fashion styles spanning a price range of about $20 to $50. But its remote location, tightly placed racks and generally sloppy appearance made the department seem like a low priority.