Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — The new glamour looks in ready-to-wear — clothes with curves — are stepping up the demand for shapewear items, according to foundations manufacturers.
Vendors say the requests for these products have stepped up dramatically over the past six months, and they’re adding to their ranges for fall with an array of embellished treatments.
Items targeting specific figure problems are in play. The products include waist cinchers, corsets and bustiers that prop the bosom and flatten the torso, all-in-one body briefers that give control on midriff and tummy, thigh slimmers, and an abundance of high-waisted briefs that control midriff bulge.
Also in the picture are molded control briefs that lift the derriere — an item, say makers, that’s popular with the aging generation of baby bloomers.
But makers note that consumers now want a combination of fashion and function in shapewear, and the assortments for fall include more control items sporting pretty, feminine styling with a look of lingerie.
Ideas include more lace trims and embellishments, sheer nylon and Lycra spandex combined with laces or nylon and Lycra tricot satin, and more colors, especially skin tones.
Gwen Widell, senior vice president of merchandising and design worldwide for The Warnaco Group, said, “There’s a real trend toward fashion shapewear. It’s being fueled by the catwalks of Paris, which are dictating this glamour in clothes.”
Widell predicted the emphasis on the waist on the Paris runways will ignite sales of waist cinchers this year.
She also noted a control body briefer with built-in molded cups has been added for fall to the group called Suddenly Slim by Olga.
“We’ve really taken care of the full-figure women with this item,” she said, noting that cup sizes start at 34C and go to 42DDD.
She further noted that a control brief of cotton and Lycra by Olga has just been shipped to stores, and reaction has been “very good.”
“There’s been a need for shapewear in cotton and Lycra,” she said.
In the Warner’s brand of foundations, Widell said a high-waisted brief called Suddenly Slim has been “hugely successful” since its retail introduction nine months ago.
“It’s been so wonderful that we have also just introduced it in our Lace Dressings group, which has a molded derriere,” she said.
“The trend for more shapewear items definitely is on the rise,” said Nancy Brennick, director of merchandising for Bali foundations and Wonderbra. “Very shapely fashion is in, and women want specialty foundations.”
Brennick noted that a waist-nipper by Bali called Beyond Beautiful Sheer has been “excellent.” Introduced a year ago, the sheer nylon and Lycra brief features a rigid nylon lace tummy panel.
“Demand has been growing tremendously,” she said, noting that the item has an appeal similar to that of control-top hosiery. “It’s proof positive that we’ve introduced new customers to the category.”
Nancy Ganz, owner and president of Bodyslimmers Inc., said, “Everyone still is excited over corsets. But retailers want the prettier, different-looking corset styles in combinations of satin with sheer, or lace with sheer.”
One area in shapewear that has opened up dramatically over the past year is plus sizes, said Ganz.
“We started out with a small group, and now people can’t seem to get enough of the plus-size items,” she said, noting that the items are sold to mail-order houses and specialty chains.
Best-selling plus-size styles include a Bust Boosting Bodyslip and a high-waisted Belly Buster.
Ganz added that she will introduce a new range of stretch fabrics for shapewear for fall, which will include corduroy and ottoman-finish blends of nylon and Lycra.
At Strouse, Adler Co., Joyce Baran, vice president of design and merchandising, said the firm will introduce a high-waisted control panty for fall.
It will be a combination of two successful shapewear items: the Tummy Terminator II and the Waist Eliminator.
“It features a five-inch waistband that goes all the way up to the bra,” said Baran. “It’s more convenient than an all-in-one body briefer because some women can choose the type of bra they want to wear.”
Berna Goldstein, executive director of Donna Karan Intimates and a vice president of Wacoal USA, said a group of control briefs will be introduced in March.
“We’re introducing the briefs because Donna is so much into control,” sad Bernstein. Colors will be black, ivory and nude. The briefs, which will include a long-leg style, will be done in nylon power mesh and satin of nylon and Lycra.
Carol Columbus-Green, owner and president of Laracris Corp., Chicago, maker of Aubergine shapewear, noted a body briefer with a nonstretch tummy control panel will be introduced in March. It will have removable straps and removable cookies. Colors will be black, white and champagne.
“The body briefer will feature bra sizes in proportion to the body size,” she explained. While exact sizing hasn’t been finalized, bra cup sizes will start in the A cup range and go to D cup. Each body briefer will come in S, M and L sizes.

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