UPDATED BASICS, FALL PREVIEWS WILL SPARK MARKET
Byline: Karyn Monget
NEW YORK — It’s going to be a dual-purpose bodywear market.
Vendors will be using the market, which starts Monday, both to preview fall ideas with major retailers and to keep a focus on late spring and summer lines, spotlighting items that clicked at the November market.
At the same time, vendors say they’ll be spicing up assortments for March through May deliveries with more updated basics that have a look of fashion.
A key part of this strategy will be a broader range of dual-purpose pieces — unitards, bra tops and bike shorts, for example — that offer a special look along with function, all geared to entice value-conscious consumers to open their wallets. The theme will carry into fall as well, when such ideas as leggings in jeans styling will make an appearance.
Vendors generally are hesitant about making sales projections, but most say they expect bookings to be even or slightly ahead of a year ago, due mainly to the continuing lackluster climate at retail.
A big overall trend, say makers, will be the growing popularity of performance fabric blends such as CoolMax and Lycra spandex, and Supplex nylon and Lycra.
Other ideas expected to be important next week include:
* Brushed finishes that have a suede-like hand.
* Interesting textures, such as twill finishes and baby rib patterns.
* Lots of mesh.
* Drawstring waistlines.
* Cut-out back treatments.
* Colorblocking, especially combinations of black with brights.
* Racing stripes.
Regarding the overall mood of the market, Mary Ann Domuracki, president of Danskin Inc., said, “I see January as fall preview week with our biggest accounts.”
Domuracki said the firm will expand on its “collection concept,” which was introduced for spring. The idea, she said, is to merchandise stretch bodywear items with coordinating activewear pieces in the same colors or prints.
“We’ve also changed a lot of the fall line to include more unitards,” said Domuracki. “In effect, unitards are replacing leotards.”
Michael Levinson, president of Weekend Exercise Co., San Diego, said, “This will be the first chance we’ll get to talk to our accounts since the holiday madness. It’s a good time to talk, because January and February is when bodywear business is very good at stores.”
Levinson said he expects the “biggest hit” in the firm’s Marika line of bodywear for late spring to be a houndstooth print group of cotton, polyester and Lycra. Houndstooth checks of navy, pink or turquoise will be featured on a white ground. Styles will include an underwire, padded push-up bra top, bike shorts and cotton jersey shorts.
Levinson added that the licensed Baryshnikov line will feature a Supplex and Lycra group called Supplex Sportif, which will have “lots of control.”
“I think we’ll be even with last year, or have very subtle gains,” said Gilda Marx, co-chairman of Gilda Marx Industries, Los Angeles.
For late spring deliveries, Marx singled out a group under the Gilda Marx label of cotton, polyester and Lycra called Tei-Chi. The bodywear will feature a small geometric print and have coordinating and contrasting coverups in French terry and cotton jersey. Special effects will include overlock stitching, piping, zippers and drawstrings.
Marx said she will preview her fall lines of bodywear at the Feb. 4-7 Super Show in Atlanta.
Sharon Sweet, vice president of merchandising at Sara Lee Bodywear Group, part of Sara Lee Corp., said a key item in the Hanes Her Way line to be previewed for fall will be a “jean legging.” The cotton-and-Lycra legging will have seaming and pockets like a pair of jeans. Colors will include solid black, brights and heathered charcoal and gray.
“We’ll also have a lot of in-line skating looks for fall with lots of racing stripes,” said Sweet.
Hinda Miller, vice president of communications for Champion Jogbra bodywear at Sara Lee and the creator of the Jogbra, said three styles of underwire sports bras will be part of a new Under the Wire group for fall: a full sports bra with a racer back and back closure for heavy-busted women, and two styles for medium-busted women that fit over the head — a “classic” look and a yoke-top style.
Colors are gray, black and lapis blue. There also is a graffiti print.
At Attitudes in Dressing, Marie West, president, said she will show additional items for late spring that offer fashion and function. She hopes this approach will overcome the general price-consciousness of consumers as well as motivating stores to feature the goods prominently. The latter point has become a challenge, she indicated, because of the lack of true bodywear areas at many department stores.
“I think people generally are wearing old clothes to the gym right now, not getting gussied up,” said West. “I also think consumers don’t know where they can find bodywear at stores.”
Among the options West is offering in her BodyWrappers bodywear is a group called Duo Max that features a Lycra blend with cotton on the outside and with CoolMax on the inside of the stretch apparel.
A spokeswoman for Jacques Moret singled out two ideas for late spring and summer that received good reaction in November: an Olympic-inspired group of updated basics in red, white and blue with logos and patches, and anything in gray.
“Biketards are really hot, too,” she said.
Susan Fixel, designer of bodywear and activewear under the Susan Fixel and Proformance labels at Activewear Corp. of America, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said her signature collection will be showing “outdoor-inspired looks” called Camp Wear for summer and early fall.
“It will be a graphics-driven group with words like ‘relax’ and ‘expedition,’ and will feature lots of tops and drawstring bottoms,” she said., noting that Proformance will offer lots of colorblocking, color stitching and nylon-and-Lycra mesh treatments.