JOE BOXER DEAL: Joe Boxer Corp. has signed a licensing agreement with Wolverine World Wide Inc. to manufacture a line of women’s, men’s and children’s bedroom slippers and casual at-home footwear for global distribution.
“It was an obvious step for us. What goes better with PJs, underwear and loungewear than at-home footwear?” said Nicholas Graham, founder and chairman of Joe Boxer. Sized S,M,L and XL, the licensed slippers will “target a cool, hip customer in the 16-to-32 age range,” he said.
Shipments of 20 styles are scheduled for fall selling. Suggested retail will be between $30 and $38. Special effects will include embroideries that say “Don’t Slip” and “Stinky” on Polarfleece slides and clogs. There will also be logoed elastic rims and coordinating pajama prints and fabrications.
Timothy J. O’Donovan, president and chief operating officer of Wolverine, noted, “Joe Boxer will add a new dimension to our Hush Puppies and private label slipper business. The brand’s high profile with Generation X and Y consumers will support the recently announced three-year strategic plan that includes growing our domestic and international slippers business.”
International distribution will begin in Canada and the U.K.

PARIS UNDERFASHION: More than 100 industry executives attended the Underfashion Club’s seminar titled, “We Love Paris,” on Feb. 22. The focus of the seminar was the Salon International de la Lingerie, which was staged in Paris in January.
Iris LeBron, fashion director for intimate apparel, activewear and swimwear at DuPont, gave a slide presentation and an overview of key trends, such as the continuation of allover seamless undergarments and microfibers.
General observations of the show were presented by Ann Deal, president of Fashion Forms; Gary Hughes, president of GH Laces, and Silvia Harven, product manager at Lady Ester Lingerie.

UJA HONORS EXECS: The UJA-Federation’s Intimate Apparel Division will honor two executives and a major foundations firm at a cocktail reception May 16 at The Roosevelt Hotel: Skip Chustz, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of apparel and product development at ShopKo Stores Inc.; Barry Ross, vice president of Sextet Fabrics Inc., and Maidenform Worldwide Inc.
The awards will be bestowed for “years of faithful service, both in the industry and to the community,” said UJA officials.
Co-chairmen of the event will be Jeffrey Rosenzweig, president of Fashion Ribbon Co. Inc., and Marty Shapiro, an account executive at H. Warshow & Sons Inc.

KATZ ‘S COMEBACK: Norman Katz, former president and chief executive officer of I. Appel Corp. — and a respected figure in the innerwear industry for more than 45 years — is planning a comeback after a 3 1/2-year hiatus.
The question, though, is whether Katz, whose expertise is robes, at-homewear, sleepwear and seamless underwear, will return to the innerwear industry or enter the activewear and casualwear field. He said it “could be” one or the other, but would not make a decision for the next couple of months.
Katz sold his partnership interest at I. Appel in July 1996 for a reported $10 million. He said a noncompete agreement with I. Appel expired in July 1999, noting he is now free to pursue a number of business ventures.
“I’ve been approached by numerous business concerns in the intimate apparel, activewear and ready-to-wear fields. There are many opportunities, especially in the seamless classification of panties, camis as well as swimwear, ” said Katz, who oversees a number of contracting partnerships in Mexico at two factories he owns. One major client is Russell, for whom he produces men’s activewear, fleecewear, T-shirts and sweats, he said.
His son Stephen Katz, former vice president of the Appel firm who now heads production expansion and distribution of private label activewear at the Mexican facilities, said, “There are some very large opportunities for us in Mexico, now that we’ve started to investigate the possibilities of future apparel. Prior to July ’99, we didn’t discuss anything with anybody.”
Steven Katz added that the demand for activewear products produced in Mexico has generated annual increases of 25 percent for the past three years. Financial problems at key activewear makers Tultex, Oneida and Puma helped beef up the Katz’s private label business, he said.
One possibility could be a reentry into the seamless panties business, an area with which Norman Katz is well acquainted. In 1992, he purchased 50 Santoni allover seamless knitting machines and successfully sold an upscale brand of seamless microfiber panties under the Formfit label to 300 department store doors. The Formfit name has since been sold to Jockey International.
“It was an instant success,” recalled Katz, adding that the seamless business is one of the “hottest” lines in the underwear business today.
Commenting on the outlook of the intimate apparel industry, which rang up sales of $11.2 billion in 1999, Katz observed, “The intimate apparel business has grown dramatically due to the fact that Victoria’s Secret has brought it into practically every mall in America. Women have become much more conscious of intimate apparel as fashion.
“In 1992, I predicted that the intimate apparel business would grow to a $10 billion [retail] business by 1994. People at the Intimate Apparel Council laughed back then, because they thought it was a very ambitious projection. Look at it now.”

2001 MARKET DATES: The Intimate Apparel Council, a division of the American Apparel Manufacturers Association, has announced the 2001 five seasonal market dates for intimate apparel in New York: Jan. 8-12, March 5-9, May 7-11, Aug. 6-19 and Nov. 5-9.

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