GODDESS ACQUIRED: Unity Brands Ltd. has purchased The Goddess Bra Co. through its U.S. subsidiary, Stirling Brands. A transaction price was not disclosed.

Goddess generates annual wholesale revenues of $15 million. Unity Brands is the U.K.-based holding company for parent Eveden Ltd., and Stirling Brands, headquartered in New York. The group is known for its lingerie and swimwear and specializes in large-cup bra sizes under the brand names Fantasie, Rigby & Peller and Freya.

The addition of Goddess products is expected to build the U.K. group’s annual volume in excess of $50 million in 2002, based on current exchange rates.

Tony Thwaites, group managing director, said, “This union will offer tremendous domestic and international growth for all of the brands. With our reputation for customer service, European design and international distribution, we will make Goddess a global brand.”

Ellen Jacobson, third-generation president of the Goddess firm, will continue as managing director of Goddess. Jacobson has been with the company for 12 years and has gleaned experience at all levels of the full-figure business, including expertise in design, merchandising, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and sales.

“With the much-needed infusion of resources, we will now be better able to service our customers,” Jacobson said. “Recently, customer service has suffered, and our initial goal is to address that issue.”

Meanwhile, Robert Underhill, chairman of the Unity operation, will expand his responsibilities to include the new post of corporate treasurer of the group’s U.S. businesses. Additionally, Gus Fernandez has been named to the new post of managing director of sales for Goddess and Stirling. Fernandez was most recently vice president of sales for the Lily of France and licensed Natori bra brands at the Bestform unit of the VF Intimate Apparel Coalition.

MAIDENFORM SLEEPWEAR: Maidenform Inc. has signed a licensing deal with Clubhouse Creations Inc. to launch a line of of sleepwear bearing the Maidenform label. The line will be unveiled at the March 4-8 fall market in New York.

Clubhouse Creations, a division of Sleep Club, produces branded and private label sleepwear.

Fred Olsen has been named president of the Maidenform sleepwear business at Clubhouse Creations. He was most recently, president of Vogue Dessous International, a Canadian bra firm. Additionally, Terry Russo has joined the team as senior vice president of product development.

Cindy Davis, senior vice president retail and licensing at Maidenform, said the company is “committed to enhancing the brand equity of our trademarks through product extensions. We look forward to developing a major sleepwear business.”

Russo noted that the sleepwear collection will be comprised of two groups: the Maidenform Comfort Collection in a variety of knits, trims and prints, and the Maidenform Classique Collection, which will feature charmeuse and chiffon.

FEMMY PRESENTERS: Honorees of the annual Femmy Award at a black-tie cocktail party and dinner at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel March 5 will be presented the industry’s signature award from four presenters.

Jennifer DeWinter, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue will present Barbara Lipton, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel, hosiery and fine jewelry with a Femmy award; Michael Gould, chairman and ceo of Bloomingdale’s will bestow Josie Natori with a Femmy award; Alan Fisher, vice president of merchandising at Wacoal America will give Rita Mazzella, an intimate apparel fit model, with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Karyn Monget, innerwear news editor of WWD will be presented an Industry Recognition Award from Kathryn M. Smith, marketing manager of DuPont’s Lycra/intimate apparel business.

NAP’S NEW LOOK: NAP Inc., a maker of sleepwear with annual wholesale sales of $90 million, has updated its image with a $500,000 redo of its New York showroom and offices at 171 Madison Avenue and a $100,000 investment in technology, which includes the new boutiqueshowroom.com Web site.

The new Internet site, which was created in-house, makes the buying process for retailers faster and more efficient, said Victor Lee, Nap’s chief operating officer.

“Every retailer registers with us for a password, and we set up their account to work with us online,” Lee said. “The Web site is set up by collections and brands, styles such as robes and pajamas, a price range and delivery dates. Retailers will receive an automatic response confirming their order.”

Lee noted that retailers visiting the showroom can work with a wireless keyboard and mouse, which will enable them to work in any section of the showroom, which was doubled in space to 5,000 square feet by utilizing unused office space.

“The major objective was to make the showroom more open with a lot more lighting,” he said. “We’ve also created special areas for all of our brands that also offer our customers a private environment.”

The new Nap showroom, which Lee described as “clean and contemporary looking,” was designed by Nan Joo Joung.

In addition to private label, the company produces and distributes sleepwear and robes under the Anne Lewin and licensed Crabtree & Evelyn label and distributes and markets foundations and swimwear bearing the Princesse Tam Tam name.

TEFRON PATENT: Israel-based Tefron Ltd., a specialist in seamless innerwear, activewear, sportswear and swimwear, has applied for a patent for a two-ply support garment.

The patent is for a fabric that is made less resistant to stretching by a bonding process. The fabric can provide increased support and shaping properties in selected areas of the garment, according to Tefron.

Yos Shiran, chief executive officer of Tefron, said: “As a result of the new technology, we are able to produce different degrees of stretch and support in one piece of fabric, providing women with a bra that melds to the body and delivers new dimensions in terms of comfort and fit.”

The new product has received positive reaction from a number of its major retail customers, Shiran said, and the firm hopes to have the bra in the marketplace by the end of the year. Tefron manufactures seamless intimate apparel for Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Banana Republic and Target, as well as the DKNY Underwear, Schiesser and Sara Lee-owned Dim labels.

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