Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — Warm and cozy sleepwear — and such sexy-looking little nothings as velvet bras and coordinating panties — are among the top stars of the holiday season in innerwear departments.
In the Northeast and Midwest, particularly, stores said colder-than-usual temperatures since early December have boosted sleepwear and robe business, particularly in flannel. Some retailers noted they’ve sold twice as many flannel or velour robes as they did at this time last year. Polyester charmeuse and a variety of textured cotton knits are also top ideas.
James Gundell, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of intimate apparel, accessories and shoes at Bloomingdale’s, said, “We’re running ahead of last year at comp stores, and we think the last 10 days will put us well ahead of last year.”
Gundell said “anything in flannel” was selling well. Branded and private label mother-and-daughter sleepwear sets of flannel are a top idea, he said.
In sleepwear, bestselling names at Bloomingdale’s include Natori, Carole Hochman, Christian Dior and Josie, which has been “very strong.” Robin Suvoy, divisional vice president of intimate apparel at Macy’s East, said, “Pajamas is a category that’s been very good in knits and satins, and flannels have been terrific. Customers are responding to very soft fabrics, anything that is comfort dressing.”
Suvoy singled out metallic gold as a “strong” color in all categories, mainly in satins.
A sellout item, she said, is a velour bikini in jewel tones, which retails for $6.
Laurie Black, divisional vice president of intimate apparel at Nordstrom in Seattle, said, “Our super hot Christmas items include a chenille robe by Mark Travers and a fabulous leopard-print robe by Cypress.”
Other top-selling items at Nordstrom include flannel pajamas by Shadow Boxer, chenille robes by Canyon Group and dual-purpose bodysuits by Natori and Body & Soul, she said.
Louise Hefka, buyer of robes and loungewear at Jacobson’s, Jackson, Mich., singled out a sell-out item: a leopard-print cotton terry robe by Cypress. The robe retails for $115.
“The real turn-on has been anything in clipped chiffons satins,” said Cindy Stokes, buyer of sleepwear, robes and leisurewear at Carson Pirie Scott, Milwaukee. LA Intimates and California Dynasty are the two top labels in this area.
Elaine Duke, buyer of robes and leisurewear at J.C. Penney Co., said, “We’ve sold twice as many terry velour robes than last year in pastels and brights. Anything in bunting or fleece is selling.”
A spokeswoman for Sears, Roebuck & Co. said, “We’re doing a fabulous business with our new Van Raalte line.” Van Raalte daywear and sleepwear by The Warnaco Group was first shipped to Sears in October.
Phyllis Epstein, buyer of foundations and panties at Bradlees, Braintree, Mass., noted, “Embossed, pannA strings and thongs for $2.99 are our best single panty retail price this season.”
At Frederick’s of Hollywood, Sandi Lewengood, director of merchandising projects, said, “Even though people are more price-conscious this year, we’re finding that higher-priced items are selling; items that are unique, unusual looking.”
But at the Frederick’s catalog division, Dennis Warden, vice president and general merchandiser, noted, “Price definitely is an issue. We’re selling lots of Lycra-blend bra and panty sets in the $15 range.”
A spokeswoman for Victoria’s Secret said sleepwear items were among the bestsellers for Christmas. Two top styles include an Oriental-print sleepshirt of polyester satin, retailing for $35, and a long, cotton terry wrap robe in solid brights, for $48.

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