MAKERS BANKING ON SOME SWEET CHARITY

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Legwear makers are counting on cause-related marketing to help give a lift to legwear sales this spring.
Looking for ways to attract shoppers to hosiery departments in the warmer months when business tends to taper off, manufacturers plan to donate some proceeds from sales of select items to nonprofit organizations. L’eggs, ETC Hosiery, Gold Toe and Jockey are supporting groups that benefit such causes as wildlife preservation, AIDS research and cancer prevention.
For the introduction of Holeproof socks in the U.S., ETC Hosiery has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps protect wildlife and nature.
Holeproof is selling “wild” socks imprinted with animals. Five percent of the wholesale price of each pair of socks will be donated to the WWF, as indicated by the stickers on each pair. The socks wholesale around $3.
In May, the eight-piece line will be shipped to department stores and specialty stores, as well as a few new outlets for the company — gift stores, zoos and amusement parks.
“There is a lot of interest in charitable things now, and this helps introduce Holeproof to America,” said Robert Sussman, president of ETC Hosiery.
The WWF’s logo, a panda bear, is knit into some of the socks. Riders — the packaging used for socks — have information about the species imprinted on the socks.
L’eggs, a division of Sara Lee Corp., is launching a year-long marketing program designed to encourage volunteerism. Called “Women Who Shape Our World,” the program consists of advertising, point-of-purchase displays and brochures with tips about volunteer work.
For the kickoff event to be held at the Rainbow Room here on Wednesday, L’eggs will honor the following women for their work with these agencies: Nancy Brinker of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; Katie Couric for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance; Beverly Kirby Jones of Easter Seals; Marian Wright Edelman for the Children’s Defense Fund, and Deborah Leff of America’s Second Harvest. They will receive awards and certificates for $250,000 worth of L’eggs products for their organizations.
During May market, Gold Toe will introduce socks imprinted with an image of a red ribbon for AIDS awareness, a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness or an image of a heart for preventive heart care. It has not yet been determined what percentage of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to various charities for research funding, said Jill Fergus, vice president.
The items will be distributed at the company’s existing accounts. There will also be hangtags and collateral material highlighting the initiatives.
“We decided this was a good thing to do,” Fergus said. “It’s a very personal issue for everybody depending on how they’ve been touched by each illness.”
Next month, Jockey plans to distribute samples of its new ultrasheers to attendees at a fashion show hosted by Foley’s in Houston. Admission to the event will be used for scholarships for the Alpha Kappa Alpha, a national sorority, said Susan Williams, vice president and general merchandise manager for women’s hosiery.
Jockey is interested in contributing to the education of tomorrow’s adults, she said.
Barry Tartarkin, president of Ridgeview’s hosiery division, said cause-related marketing will be a priority for his new company, JBT Hosiery. He expects to close a deal with Ridgeview to buy its hosiery division by the end of this month, as reported.
After test-selling athletic socks imprinted with the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness last fall, American Essentials plans to go forward with a national program this fall, a company spokesman said.

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