SARA LEE’S REVOLUTION
Byline: Karyn Monget
NEW YORK — The new line of Santoni allover seamless foundations called Body Revolution by Barely There will be the biggest product launch to date at the Bali unit of Sara Lee Intimate Apparel.
That’s the word from David Palmieri, vice president and general manager of the Bali, Wonderbra and Barely There brands, who said distribution is aimed at more than 3,000 department-store doors.
“It takes a fair amount of risk and investment to create a brand, but we have to drive our business, take risks and leap forward into the technological business,” said Palmieri, referring to the booming category of seam-free undergarments produced through Santoni knitting machines.
The launch, which began in July, is being supported by an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign developed by Shahid & Co. and photographed by Richard Avedon. Hangtags will feature visuals photographed by Stewart Shining, whose work has appeared in Sports Illustrated.
Palmieri would not give a sales projection or advertising budget, but according to industry estimates, a Sara Lee megabrand is expected to generate wholesale revenues of at least $100 million the first several years. A key example is the Wonderbra label introduced to the U.S. market by Sara Lee in 1993, whose annual volume now exceeds $175 million, sources said.
The 12-month ad budget for Body Revolution — including a national print campaign, outdoor ads and point-of-sale materials — is close to the $20 million range, according to industry observers.
Palmieri said the Body Revolution seamless underwire bra features a one-piece construction in a butter-soft microfiber, four-way stretch, knit-in invisible support and a soft-knit bottom band similar to that of a knit-in comfort band on Santoni briefs. The suggested retail price for the bra is $26. Cup sizes are 34B to 38D.
“It’s what we call in-house the ‘go to’ bra — many women may have five or 10 bras in their dresser, but they always go to the one they like and is the most comfortable,” said Palmieri.
He confirmed that Sara Lee is pursuing what’s been called the “millennium bra” in the industry — an allover seamless bra with engineered knit-in support that replaces an underwire.
“We are looking at virtually every silhouette in Santoni technology,” Palmieri said.
Also part of the Barely There family for fall are three other groups: a selection of bras called Body Bliss; a Heather Microfiber collection of seam-free tops and bottoms, and Seamless Smoothers, a shapewear line. Palmieri pointed out that a new generation of Seamless Smoothers called Comfort Shapers will be introduced at the Aug. 6-10 innerwear market. Four styles will feature a knit-in tulip pattern.
Regarding Sara Lee’s product support, Jennifer Armstrong, vice president of marketing for the Bali, Wonderbra and Barely There brands, said: “We feel that as others are pulling back in a tough [retail] environment, we are really stepping up to the plate. We believe department-store brands need to step out and be a little bit more elevated.”
Armstrong described the target customer for Body Revolution bras as “a fully evolved woman looking for wonderful support” in the 25- to 49-year-old age range with a core age of about 30. The Barely There brand is aimed at average figures, Wonderbra is “all about shape enhancement,” and Bali is targeted to the woman who wants fuller support, she said.
She noted that the barelythere.com Web site will be updated to include information on the Body Revolution bra in August.
Meanwhile, Palmieri said a Wonderbra party and fashion show is being planned at Cipriani on East 42nd Street in Manhattan during the August market to promote the new Air Wonder Bra.