NOT SO HOT: Steilmann, Germany’s largest women’s wear maker, saw 1994 sales drop 8 percent to about $921.1 million. Founder and owner Klaus Steilmann said the main reason for the decrease was that “the consumer has less money to spend.” Unusually warm weather didn’t help fall sales, either. The company has taken cost containment measures, including merging the management of several divisions. Steilmann also closed nine of its German factories and laid off 2,400 employees. “It’s a matter of using the synergy of service departments to be lean and clean,” said Steilmann, who thinks the group can maintain sales at the 1994 level this year if restructuring steps work, and the weather cooperates.

D.G.N.Y.: For the first time, Dolce & Gabbana is selling its pre-fall women’s collection from its New York showroom. The selling starts today and runs through Feb. 8, by appointment. The collection consists of about 80 pieces, 70 percent of them daywear and 30 percent eveningwear. The collection is accompanied by a range of accessories, Dolce & Gabbana said.

HERMES’S STELLAR SALES: Hermes International said that net sales rose 20 percent last year to $646.8 million (3.4 billion francs). Watch sales soared by 45 percent; silk product sales were up 21 percent; leather goods sales rose 19 percent, and men’s and women’s ready to wear grew 15 percent. Perfume sales, however, fell 5 percent. There was growth in all markets at both wholly owned and franchised stores, Hermes said. Profit figures weren’t released. The company is launching a new women’s scent on Feb. 20, which will hit stores in France in plenty of time for French Mother’s Day on May 28th.