INNERWEAR: FORM AND FUNCTION
Byline: Karyn Monget
NEW YORK — The ongoing popularity of innerwear items — especially dual- purpose sleepwear and loungewear looks and bras for different lifestyles — should keep building an already robust business this year. The demand for more figure-enhancing products at retailers from high-end to mass merchants in 1995 is also expected to continue boosting foundations business throughout the year.
While foundations makers generally will be showing spring lines that were presented at November market, many say WWD/MAGIC will provide an opportunity to discuss conceptual ideas for fall 1996 with a broader range of major retailers.
In some cases, innerwear firms will be introducing new product lines aimed at niche markets. For example, Vassarette at Vanity Fair Mills will introduce its first full-figure line of bras and coordinating control bottoms called Finally, For Me. Manufacturers of sleepwear, robes and loungewear say they’ll be able to present a more succinct array of top trends for late spring and early fall, Many of these ideas will have been previewed at the January 8-12 innerwear market here.
Among the leading ideas will be:
* A greater variety of sports bras that offer comfort and function.
* Foundations in performance fabric blends of Supplex nylon and Lycra spandex and Micromattique and Lycra.
* More seamless, molded bras.
* Padded, push-up bras that give a softer, more subtle bustline.
* A dizzying assortment of control items that trim the waist and boost the derriere.
* Lots of lace embellishment.
* Anything with a dual-purpose look — from bra tops, camisoles and bustiers to control slips that double as a dress.
* Sportswear-inspired two-piece at-homewear looks, especially tunics with coordinating pull-on pants.
* An abundance of activewear fabrics in sleepwear and at-homewear, such as sherpas, thermals and jerseys.
Regarding the general outlook, Maurice Reznik, president of the Warner’s division of The Warnaco Group, said, “We’ll continue to show our top ideas for Warner’s, Olga and our licensed Fruit of the Loom line for spring, but this show will also be an important platform for our Speedo sports bras.”
Reznik noted that first shipments of those bras began in late December. The Warner’s division produces sports bras bearing the Speedo label. The Speedo name is owned by Authentic Fitness Corp., another company that’s also headed by Linda Wachner, chairman and chief executive.
“The whole concept of sports bras that are seamless and molded will be a big thrust for us,” he continued. “It will be big news at stores by the end of January,” he said.
Chris Fuentes, director of marketing for Vassarette, said, “We’ll reinforce our presentation of various trends at MAGIC and use the launch of our new full-figure line as a catalyst at the show.”
Fuentes said he believed the full-figure group will be a “great product launch for us.” Distribution is aimed at some 4,000 mass merchant doors nationwide, he said.
Fuentes further noted that the company conducted a “number of consumer focus groups around the country and talked to a lot of retailers about what consumers are asking for.
“We discovered that full-figured women — big-busted women — are looking for product that’s functional, fits well and has a look of fashion in colors and styling,” said Fuentes.
Laurie Bullard, product manager for the Vassarette brand, said five underwire bra styles feature special full-figure detailing, including wider straps and built-up leotard back treatments. Sizes run from 36C to 44DD.
Bill Ryan, vice president of sales at Host For Her, noted, “Dual-purpose basics with a touch of fashion is what we’ll be showing for spring and early fall.”
Three lines will be showcased: Elan sleepwear and at-homewear, and two robe and at-homewear licensees — Bill Blass and Adrianna Papell.
For early fall, a stretch cotton terry group of at-homewear will be introduced in Elan, while Blass will feature a novelty group of sherpas and berbers. The Papell at-homewear will continue to highlight silk prints that also are part of the Papell dress line, he said. “If anything is driving our department-store business right now, it’s two-piece separates in sleepwear,” said Ryan. “I think this trend will continue into loungewear for fall ’96.”
Sue Molle, vice president of merchandising at O’Bryan Bros., a Chicago-based maker of sleepwear and warmwear, said two brands will be showcased at MAGIC: Cuddl Duds and Lorraine.
“We’ll bring our January lines, expand our print presentations and show lots of new product, particularly warmwear,” she said.
Molle added the number one idea will be new packaging for Cuddl Duds basic cotton and nylon underwear.
“We tested the concept in mid-December at department stores, and reaction has been terrific,” she said. “The packaging takes a basic product and gives it a lot of attitude. Retailers and consumers really like it.”
The Cuddl Duds underwear packaging is similar to the generic
way many socks are merchandised on fixtures: underwear is
folded in half over a miniature black plastic hanger. The band wrap on the underwear features a photo of a model wearing the product.
“This also gives consumers the opportunity to feel the softness of the fabric, which is very important,” said Molle.
Body Waves Inc./Vanilla Blossom/Jealousy
Elsie Undergarment Corp.
Eton Trading (America Inc.)
Everfit USA Corp.
Gina Hosiery Ltd.
Host For Her/Joe Boxer Girlfriend
I. Appel Corp.
Intimate Resources Ltd.
Jockey for Her
Joe Boxer Girlfriend! Sleepwear and Loungewear
Kinnaird & Co. Ltd.
Look From London Inc.
Magic Moments Int’l. Inc.
Sache (Fox Well Int’l)
Sharron Leslie Designs
Teensy Weensy USA Ltd., a division of Comme-Ci Comme-Ca Terry Club
Top Rock/Private Dancer
Vandale Industries Inc.
Vanity Fair Intimates