DALLAS — Haggar Apparel Co. has severed its dormant licensing agreement with Eddie Haggar Ltd. and is seeking a new licensee to manufacture, distribute and market women’s casual sportswear under the Haggar label.

Eddie Haggar Ltd. was spun off from Haggar Apparel in a leveraged buyout in 1990 led by Eddie Haggar, president of the women’s firm and a grandson of the founder of Haggar Apparel. It has been developing its own labels and hasn’t produced any apparel under the Haggar license since 1990. Both firms are based here.

Frank Bracken, president of Haggar Apparel, said he is talking with major women’s apparel makers and expects a licensed collection of women’s casual and trademarked Wrinkle-Free sportswear will be ready for retailing next fall.

“Before we sold this [women’s] division we had built a $40 million to $50 million business in a very short period of time,” Bracken pointed out, noting that the company started the women’s line in 1984. “We know we can do it again. It’ll be bigger.”

Haggar has significant momentum behind it. The mammoth maker of men’s wear, which went public in December 1992, is projecting sales to hit $500 million this year. In the year ended Sept. 30, 1993, it had sales of $394.1 million.

It plans to build the licensed women’s line on its highly successful Wrinkle-Free fabrics.

“We think it’s pretty transferable to women’s wear, and we don’t think anyone’s done it right yet,” Bracken asserted.

Eddie R. Haggar Jr. said he hasn’t produced anything under the Haggar licensing agreement because he wanted his firm to create its own identity. The five-year contract was mutually terminated one year short of its term, he said.

“We had the license for Haggar Classics and Haggar Casuals, but we did focus groups and found it had a men’s connotation, so we subdued it and used the Eddie Haggar Ltd. label instead,” Haggar said. Eddie Haggar Ltd.’s labels include EHL, Reflections, Alison Daley, Palmetto’s and Essentials.

Bracken scoffed at the notion that a men’s brand name couldn’t be sold to women.

“Our research says that men and women are very accustomed to buying the same brand, like Levi’s, Lee, Claiborne and The Gap,” he asserted.

Haggar Apparel, a 68-year-old manufacturer, already licenses an array of products in the U.S. under its Haggar and Reed St. James labels. The brand is licensed in nine countries worldwide. About half of its production is done domestically and the rest is offshore.