NEW YORK — “I don’t know who wears this but I bet you’d like to know,” said “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul, as she stood behind a triple X-size, bubble gum-pink bra.

Grammy Award-winner Abdul was on hand during fashion week to pitch a revamp of the 10-year-old Barely There bra brand by Sara Lee, which is being rolled out under the new Barely There Tagfree banner at major department stores this fall.

The Barely There brand generates annual wholesale sales of more than $50 million, according to industry estimates. The launch will be completed by spring 2005, said Michele Termotto, brand manager for Barely There. She would not disclose an annual marketing and advertising budget, but industry experts estimate it’s in excess of $5 million.

According to a survey conducted by Sara Lee, 71 percent of women are not satisfied with the comfort level of bras on the market, and 64 percent have demonstrated the need for a tag-free bra by cutting out the labels that Termotto described as “itchy.”

“Paula embodies what Barely There is all about,’’ Termotto said. “She’s very active with a lot of projects going on and she needs to be comfortable. She’s actually one of 64 percent of women around the country who cut the tags off of their bras.”

To be marketed under the Lose the Tag, Feel the Freedom, Be Tagfree tag line, the tag-free bras utilize a smooth printing application on the wing of the bra that gives size, fabric content and washing instructions. Six tag-free bras will be introduced in the seamless Comfortable Curves collection. Termotto would not give wholesale prices, but suggested retail is $28 to $29.

Meanwhile, Abdul was asked what it’s like being a judge on “American Idol.”

“It’s great,” said Abdul. “I mean, the kids are striving to achieve monumental success, and they know they can talk to me and relate to me. All of the judges bring different perspectives, and [the contestants] know they get the honest truth from me as a performer. It’s wonderful. For 23 years I’ve helped young people achieve their dreams.”

This story first appeared in the September 20, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

— Karyn Monget