SEAMLESS SAILS IN SOUTHWEST

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — Southwest stores from J.C. Penney to lingerie specialty boutiques are mad for seamless innerwear.
Stores said seamless styles are scoring with a wide range of consumers, from younger women who closely follow fashion and need a smooth foundation to wear under sheer and fitted apparel, to older women in search of more molded and closer conforming undergarments.
J.C. Penney executives said seamless silhouettes are helping drive its intimate apparel business this year.
“Generally speaking, all of our successful new launches for 2000 in bras, particularly in average and small figure, have been seamless,” said a store spokesman. “We have introduced several seamless products in national and private brands, targeted to all figure types, within the last 18 months and our customers are definitely responding.”
Ceil McDermott, divisional merchandise manager for intimate apparel at Penney’s, said she doesn’t see the trend losing any momentum.
“We see the seamless category continuing to gain in importance over the next few years, particularly with the addition of enhanced functionality (like the Waterbra and X-Bra),” McDermott said. “It gives the customer a reason to buy another bra.”
Among Penney’s best-selling new seamless bra introductions are Warner’s Nothing But Curves, retailing for $29; Lily of France’s fully padded soft-cup sweater bra, at $14.99, and the X-Bra by Lily of France, which offers adjustable cleavage enhancement, at $25; Ce Soir Lingerie’s seamless Waterbra, at $36; private-brand Body Touches by Delicates T-shirt bra, at $22, and Vanity Fair’s Illuminations seamless demi-contour underwire, at $26.
Penney’s also is scoring with seamless briefs, thongs, camisoles, tube bras and shaper bras from the proprietary Body Touches by Delicates, retailing from $6.50 to $14.
“Women are thrilled to have seamless as an innerwear option,” said Janet Mitchell, owner of The Lingerie Store in Oklahoma City. “Seamless wasn’t that easy to find on the market until about a year ago, and then suddenly nearly all the vendors started offering it, and women love the smooth lines and shape and lift when Lycra is part of the blend.”
Best-selling seamless items at The Lingerie Store are nude T-shirts and strapless bras from Le Mystere, Gemma and Fantasie.
“The nude seamless bra is now a staple in women’s wardrobes, just like a basic white bra,” Mitchell said. “It’s something women need.”
The store also is doing well with Schiesser’s seamless woven cotton camisoles and T-shirts, shapers from Body Wrap and Cosabella and assorted styles from Felina and Chantelle.
The Lingerie Store, which opened last fall, is the latest retailing venture from Mitchell and her husband, Gill. They also own two junior stores called Gill’s and a better women’s store called Urban Classics.
Trina Brickey, store manager at Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions in Little Rock, Ark., said seamless innerwear is usurping lace as the most sought-after style among trend-conscious women.
“Women love it because there are no seams or lace to show through their apparel, especially when they’re wearing microfibers, rayons or slinky knits,” Brickey said. “Seamless offers a cleaner look.”
Seamless bestsellers are Olga’s control slip, Natori bras and panties, Le Mystere’s strapless bras and panties, Wacoal’s longline bra and various styles from Warner’s.
The Maddox Shop in Dallas’s historical Casa Linda Plaza shopping center offers a spectrum of seamless styles to cater to its diverse clientele.
Kathy Holland, store manager, said seamless sales have been strong, including basic and novelty items.
Seamless bestsellers are Body Wrap’s torso, leg shaper and bandeau bra, and other bras styles from Lilyette, Lunaire, Wacoal, Bali, Vanity Fair, Olga and Vivien. Also hot are Fashion Form’s seamless Water Bra and Gel Bra.

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