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A spot in the top five opened up since Hanes Her Way, which had been in fourth place for the past two surveys and in third in 2003, was incorporated into the overall Hanes brand. Fifth place was taken by Victoria’s Secret, which rose from eighth last year.

1. HANES
Product: Underwear, daywear, bras, shapewear, sleepwear, casualwear, hosiery.
Volume: $2.3 billion (est.)
Owner: Sara Lee Branded Apparel (a unit of Sara Lee Corp.), Winston-Salem, N.C.

Sara Lee’s $4.7 billion U.S. apparel unit, including all of its branded apparel lines, is being spun off as an independent company called Hanesbrands Inc. this summer. The Hanes megabrand has held its number-one spot in the WWD100 for four straight years. Its $75 million estimated ad budget features celebs such as Kevin Bacon and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Last year, the Hanes Her Way name was consolidated into the Hanes franchise. Innovation has kept Hanes on top with such products as the Women’s Perfect T, tagless All-Over Comfort Bras and Hanes Perfect Panty in microfiber. New hosiery lines in the Silk Reflections family provide subtle hints of color, moisturizing benefits, anticellulite control or toning for legs, hips and thighs.

2. NIKE
Product: Activewear, athletic footwear, accessories, sports equipment, personal electronics, retail.
Volume: $15 billion
Owner: Nike Inc., Beaverton, Ore.

Nike saw profits rise 15 percent and sales jump 9 percent in the year ended May 31. But its chief executive officer, William D. Perez, stepped down in January after 13 months and was replaced by Nike veteran Mark Parker. And Mindy Grossman, senior vice president of apparel, also resigned and was succeeded by another insider, Roger Wyett. During February’s Winter Olympics, Nike sponsored the U.S. hockey and speed-skating teams, among others, and sponsored eight World Cup soccer teams this summer. In the spring, Nike unveiled fashionable women’s items like corsets, shrugs and skirts made of performance fabrics, and it’s also rolling out its NikeWomen retail concept. For fall, performance innerwear for women with a new generation of support bras and underwear will launch.

3. LEVI STRAUSS
Product: Jeanswear
Volume: $2.93 billion (Levi’s brands)
Owner: Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco

After eight years of declining sales, Levi Strauss & Co. finally turned the tide in 2005 and posted a 1.3 percent increase in sales to $4.12 billion. The core Levi’s brand accounted for 71 percent of sales in 2005, up from 70 percent a year earlier, for the 152-year-old denim giant, which also owns the Levi Strauss Signature and Dockers brands. Levi’s jumped to third in the WWD100 from 10th last year, thanks in part to increased exposure from Levi Strauss Signature, selling in Wal-Mart and Target. But Signature was hurt in the first quarter as Wal-Mart devoted more floor space to private labels, and Signature’s U.S. sales fell 20.2 percent. In the corporation’s biggest news of the year, John Anderson, chief operating officer, was named president and ceo, and will take over when Phil Marineau retires in November.

4. TIMEX
Product: Watches
Volume: $700 million
Owner: Timex Corp., Middlebury, Conn.

One in three people own a Timex product, according to the company — and soon they’ll have a lot more to choose from. The brand has launched numerous styles like the O.V.A. (Optimal Viewing Angle) watch, which puts the digital display in a runner’s natural line of sight, and the Timex Perpetual Calendar watch. The firm will soon unveil TX luxury timepieces, and will launch the Retrograde Collection of sophisticated men’s and women’s watches in October. Timex is also in the process of repositioning itself in the market along with the appointment of Kate Shevack as chief marketing officer in March. Shevack aims to increase awareness with new audiences via promotions, public relations and advertising, like its “Better now than never” campaign.

5. VICTORIA’S SECRET
Product: Bras, underwear, day, at-home, casualwear, sleepwear, robes, shoes, dresses, fragrance, body care.
Volume: $4.45 billion ($3.22 billion at retail; $1.23 billion catalogue and e-commerce)
Owner: Limited Brands Inc., Columbus, Ohio

“Victoria’s Secret has been successful in defining what is sexy and glamorous for women and bringing it to life with subbrands such as Body by Victoria, Very Sexy, Angels and Sexy Little Things,” says Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and chief executive of Limited Brands, parent of Victoria’s Secret. This personifies the potent image of the most powerful lingerie specialty retailer in the U.S., with 998 units nationwide. Acquired by Limited in 1982, Victoria’s Secret stores average sales of $653 a square foot. Overall, 2005 sales rose 5 percent, and operating income jumped 11 percent. Wexner noted in Limited’s 2005 annual report that VS’s catalogue and e-commerce businesses had an “outstanding” year with 10 percent sales gains against the prior year.

6. FRUIT OF THE LOOM
Product: Underwear, daywear, T-shirts, casualwear.
Volume: $1.6 billion (est.)
Owner: Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Omaha

Fruit of the Loom is among the all-American brands billionaire Warren Buffet added in 2002 to Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio, which includes Dairy Queen and Geico. The 150-year-old Fruit offers family products that the company calls “classic and contemporary styling with comfortable cotton fabrics and carefree cotton blends.” Its Web site features the tag line “The Fruit Guys, Ripe for the Pickin'” and a country-western soundtrack starring the brand’s famous mascots — Apple, Green Grape, Leaf and Purple Grape — in which Apple sings “You Can’t Over-Love Your Underwear.” The whimsical vignette also runs on network and cable TV in the U.S. and Canada. Current print campaigns highlight the Cotton Stretch and Fit for Me lines.

7. L’EGGS
Product: Hosiery, enhancewear.
Volume: $380 million (est., retail)
Owner: Sara Lee Branded Apparel (a unit of Sara Lee Corp.), Winston-Salem, N.C.

L’eggs has been giving consumers incentive to wear hosiery by adding details to its fibers. It has extended successful lines like the Silken Mist Luxury Perfectly Sheer, which provides ultra sheer, near flawless leg coverage; the comfort-driven Waistband Free, and Sheer Vitality Benefits Moisturizing Pantyhose, which moisturizes the leg with Vitamin E and other all-natural nourishing ingredients embedded in the hose. The brand has also introduced an anticellulite style in Sheer Vitality, with microcapsules containing ingredients like grapeseed oil with polyphenol, a known skin smoother in the cosmetic world. In consumer tests conducted by the company, 64 percent of women noted a reduction in cellulite after wearing it.

8. OLD NAVY
Product: Value-oriented casualwear and accessories for women, men, children, maternity and plus-size.
Volume: $6.86 billion
Owner: Gap Inc., San Francisco

During the last two years, same-store sales have been sinking, but Old Navy has been taking steps to right the ship. Designers have relocated to San Francisco so the chain can develop more fashionable product quicker, with shorter lead times and better open-to-buy positions. Many merchandise changes have been implemented and a new store design is in the works, and analysts given previews of the collection have cited improvements. But more changes are coming: This month, division president Jenny Ming, who helped launch Old Navy in 1994, said she will depart after the fall season. A search for her replacement is under way. There are more than 970 Old Navy stores in North America.

9. CALVIN KLEIN
Product: Designer, bridge, better apparel; underwear; jeans; fragrance; accessories; licensing; home; retail.
Volume: $4 billion (est., retail. Designer: $200 million; bridge: $300 million; better: $3.4 billion)
Owner: Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., New York

The success of Calvin Klein continues to fuel Phillips Van-Heusen, which acquired Calvin Klein Inc. in 2003. It is now a three-pronged operation comprising the designer-level Calvin Klein Collection, the bridge-tier ck Calvin Klein and the better-priced Calvin Klein label. Last year, CKI expanded distribution worldwide and introduced nine licensed categories. The company opened stores for Collection in Milan and Dubai. Francisco Costa’s designs earned him the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award in June. CKI also had a fragrance hit with Euphoria, which debuted last fall and became the most successful launch in the brand’s fragrance history, topping fragrance sales rankings nationwide. Euphoria Men will arrive this fall.

10. LIZ CLAIBORNE
Product: Women’s, men’s and children’s wear; accessories; home; eyewear; footwear; furniture; intimates; swimwear; outerwear; sleepwear.
Volume: $1.1 billion (Liz Claiborne brand)
Owner: Liz Claiborne Inc., New York

Liz Claiborne Inc. may be one of the largest apparel firms with $4.85 billion in sales and 43 brands, but the giant still pays close attention to the growth of its core label. Over the past year, the brand has been revamping its women’s sportswear, sold in department stores. To prepare for a fall 2006 relaunch, Claiborne hired creative director Richard Ostell in March 2005. Ostell added more product value, like beaded jackets and sequined sweaters. He also designed a line of limited-edition garments that will sell only in 40 top-selling doors nationwide. Meanwhile, the search continues for a successor to the corporation’s chairman and ceo, Paul Charron, who is retiring in December.

11. REEBOK
Product: Activewear, footwear, equipment, accessories, swimwear.
Volume: $3.8 billion (est., Reebok division, includes Reebok, Rockport and Greg Norman brands)
Owner: Adidas Group, Herzogenaurach, Germany

Now owned by Adidas, Reebok is implementing a raft of organizational, product and management changes. Reebok founder and longtime chief executive officer, Paul Fireman, retired in February, and Reebok veteran Paul Harrington was named president and ceo of the brand. While Adidas said Reebok’s orders at the end of last year were down 22 percent against 2004, and sales for this year also are expected to be down, the brand has struck deals with musicians and entertainers including Nelly, Daddy Yankee and Miri Ben Ari. Adidas is improving Reebok’s styling and technology and will limit distribution of key Reebok products. Branded apparel is a big growth driver; Reebok athletic swimwear, licensed to Backflips, bowed for spring.

12. Gap
Product: Casual apparel for women, men and children; intimates; maternity; body care; accessories.
Volume: $6.84 billion (Gap brand)
Owner: Gap Inc., San Francisco

Call it Gap’s reinvention tour. As pressure for change mounts amid slumping sales and investor impatience, the retailer is reworking just about every aspect of the operation to show a difference this fall. The maneuvers include a complex and ambitious ad campaign that kicked off this month, marked by a return to TV, radio and outdoor after long absences, as well as print ads. The campaign will be supported by in-store events and other promotions. Among those in the new ads are actors Jeremy Piven and Mia Farrow, singer Natasha Bedingfield and model Eva Herzigova. The company also is accelerating store remodels and has improved fit, color and fabrics for what executives are calling a “pivotal season.”

13. ADIDAS
Product: Activewear, footwear, equipment, accessories, sporting goods.
Volume: $7.88 billion
Owner: Adidas Group, Herzogenaurach, Germany

Adidas, the number-two athletic company after Nike, made a hefty strategic acquisition this year when it bought Reebok, number three in the industry. Adidas has been pumping up its North America business, and named Rob Langstaff president of the U.S. unit in November. The firm achieved double-digit sales growth last year in North America, and also has sought to build in Asia and Eastern Europe. Adidas got significant exposure as the apparel sponsor of the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. The Adidas by Stella McCartney subbrand continues to sizzle at retail, and for fall, that line expands to skiwear and cold-weather products. Adidas is now the NBA’s official uniform and apparel supplier.

14. TOMMY HILFIGER
Product: Sportswear, jeanswear, athletic apparel, children’s wear, fragrance, home furnishings.
Volume: $1.7 billion
Owner: Funds advised by Apax Partners, Amsterdam

After celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, Tommy Hilfiger Corp. found itself at a crossroads. The $1.7 billion firm put itself on the block last summer and ultimately was bought by funds advised by Apax Partners for $1.6 billion in May. Fred Gehring, chief executive officer of Hilfiger Europe, took charge of the global firm. Headquarters moved to Amsterdam, 230 people in New York and New Jersey were cut, and Gehring began to elevate U.S. product to the same premium level as its successful European counterpart. In the U.S., sales of Hilfiger’s lines have been sluggish. Gehring cut children’s wear (except for its own stores), dropped the H Hilfiger vertical retail concept and is focused on rebuilding the Tommy Hilfiger brand in the U.S.

15. LEE
Product: Jeanswear
Volume: $1.1 billion
Owner: VF Corp., Greensboro, N.C.; Lee headquarters: Merriam, Kan.

The sting of retail consolidation in the midtier retail channel has taken a toll on Lee. Signs of a slowdown started appearing in spring 2005. Since then, the brand has seen a steady sales decline. Executives at parent VF Corp. haven’t laid the blame solely on the changing retail environment. The brand hadn’t been given the advertising support it needed. “We’ve taken our eye off our women’s business,” said Eric Wiseman, Lee president and chief executive officer, last fall. A new print campaign put the focus on fit, and management is exploring ways to expand Lee into other areas, developing it into more of a lifestyle brand. In the first quarter of this year, the firm said the turnaround was happening faster than expected.

16. NO NONSENSE
Product: Legwear, panties, sleepwear.
Volume: $220 million (est.)
Owner: Kayser-Roth Corp., a Greensboro, N.C.-based affiliate of the Golden Lady Group, Mantova, Italy

After more than 30 years in business, No Nonsense has a fresh step in its stride these days. The brand has undergone a relaunch to further solidify its reputation as a high-quality, grab-and-go product for time-starved customers in supermarkets, drugstores and mass retailers. The relaunch rolled out last spring with redesigned packaging, featuring brighter colors, easier-to-read text and more engaging images. The brand also introduced such product categories as socks, panties and sleepwear sets, as well as innovative hosiery basics, like its ultrasoft Silk Indulgences and Smart Support, with varying compression from toes to waist. In January, the No Nonsense Web site made its debut, featuring e-commerce, contests and lifestyle content.

17. PLAYTEX
Product: Full-support and average-figure bras, panties, shapewear.
Volume: $1.1 billion (est.)
Owner: Sara Lee Branded Apparel (a unit of Sara Lee Corp.), Winston-Salem, N.C.

Playtex will be part of Sara Lee’s apparel spin-off this summer into Hanesbrands Inc., a separate, public company. Acquired by Sara Lee in 1991, Playtex was the first intimate apparel brand to be featured in daytime TV ads in the Fifties, and it has the distinction of being successfully distributed to mass merchants as well as department stores worldwide. Focusing on an integrated public relations, marketing and ad campaign for the Playtex 18 Hour brand, the theme “What could you do in 18 hours?” “[appeals] to what women want from a bra” — comfort and nonstop support, said Howard Upchurch, president of Sara Lee Intimates and Hosiery. Bestsellers include the 18 Hour Easier on Front Close style and the Playtex Secrets Legacy Lace bra.

18. GUESS
Product: Jeanswear, sportswear, accessories, licensing.
Volume: $936.1 million
Owner: Guess Inc., Los Angeles

After acquiring its Italian jeanswear licensee in January 2005, Guess began expanding its European operations, opening 34 freestanding stores there last year. It also opened 76 accessories stores in the U.S., Canada and more than 18 other countries. The company reported a return to profitability for its wholesale business, which currently makes up 20 percent of sales. The efforts paid off for Guess, which was cofounded in 1981 by Paul and Maurice Marciano, French brothers who share the titles of chairman and chief executive officer. Annual revenue increased more than 28 percent from 2004, and Guess stock has nearly doubled in the past 12 months. Finally, the company launched Marciano, a runway-inspired, high-end collection of apparel and accessories.

19. WRANGLER
Product: Jeanswear
Volume: $1.6 billion
Owner: VF Corp., Greensboro, N.C.

VF Corp. says sales in its $2.7 billion jeanswear segment have been flat the last three years. Those numbers might have sunk had it not been for Wrangler’s dominance in western wear. VF has spent the last few years transforming itself from a staid maker of category apparel items into a firm that aggressively develops and acquires fast-paced lifestyle brands such as Vans, Reef and The North Face. Wrangler represented a brand with big untapped potential to be expanded into a full lifestyle collection. In 2005, Wrangler fragrances for men, women and home, launched. The brand has enhanced its premium cache, too, teaming with Marc Jacobs on slim-cut, five-pocket jeans, retailing for $300, and a Western-style jacket at $400 for his fall men’s line.

20. RALPH LAUREN
Product: Designer, bridge and better sportswear, fragrance, accessories, home, licensing, retail, media.
Volume: $10.6 billion (retail worldwide)
Owner: Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., New York

Today, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is one of fashion’s healthiest, fastest-growing businesses. Along with Polo president and chief operating officer Roger Farah, Lauren has expanded his reach to include such collections as his namesake designer line, Polo by Ralph Lauren; Ralph Lauren Purple Label; Lauren by Ralph Lauren; RLX, and Rugby. More recently, Polo has made freestanding retail a priority for growth. Besides freestanding Double RL, Rugby and smaller Ralph Lauren concept shops, the designer opened a Tokyo flagship in March, and will soon open two stores in Moscow. Polo has been increasing its profile in tennis and golf, striking deals to be sole outfitter of the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tournaments and endorsing rising golf star Morgan Pressel.

21. JOCKEY
Product: Underwear, daywear, bras, sleepwear, loungewear.
Volume: $140 million to $150 million (estimate, women’s innerwear); $20 million to $25 million (licensing)
Owner: Jockey International Inc., Kenosha, Wis.

A legacy of quality and comfort has kept Jockey a household name for 130 years. It’s a family-owned, privately held firm that traditionally keeps its business and marketing strategies close to the vest, and company executives rarely discuss specifics. But two major hits have opened up new vistas: Jockey’s innovative 3D-Contours underwear that provides eight-way stretch through proprietary body-imaging technology, and the No Panty Line Promise line of underwear. Ed Emma, president of Jockey, noted, “We are focused on taking comfort to the next level, and we are investing a lot in research and development and innovation.” Next spring, a Viscose Tee Shirt and Nylon Shelf Bra Camisole will join 3D-Contours.

22. EDDIE BAUER
Product: Sportswear, outerwear, accessories, home, travel.
Volume: $800 million
Owner: Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc., Redmond, Wash.

In 2000, Eddie Bauer’s sales reached an all-time high of $1.6 billion — double its volume last year. The good news, though, is that last year the firm emerged from bankruptcy and is working to get back on its feet. This year, Bauer, with 370 stores nationwide, hired Goldman Sachs to explore options for a sale; it is said there are several interested buyers. For now, Eddie Bauer has identified its problems. It said in a recent filing that styles were skewed too young for fall-holiday 2005, along with slimmer fits, too few Bauer classics, inconsistent fit and too many color choices. As a result, it said 2006 results would likely be lower than 2005’s. Even so, Bauer, around since 1920, has grown the catalogue business and runs an award-winning Web site.

23. NINE WEST
Product: Footwear, luggage, handbags, small leather goods, belts, eyewear, jewelry, scarves, wraps, hats, cold-weather accessories, hosiery and apparel.
Volume: $1 billion (including sales from licensed products)
Owner: Jones Apparel Group, Bristol, Pa.

Nine West created some buzz this spring from its collaboration with designers Vivienne Westwood, Thakoon and Sophia Kokosalaki for one-off collections for the brand. The lines feature footwear, some apparel, handbags and other accessories, all under $500, and will be available at Nine West’s top 20 doors, Macy’s top 40 doors and through ninewest.com and macys.com this fall. The firm plans to continue the program with new designers next year. Andrew Cohen was promoted to chief executive officer of Nine West Corp., including footwear and accessories, after the exit of Rhonda Brown, head of footwear, accessories and retail.

24. NEW BALANCE
Product: Footwear, apparel, accessories, socks, exercise equipment.
Volume: $1.54 billion
Owner: New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., Boston

As New Balance celebrates 100 years in business, one of its goals for the next century is to pump up apparel. “We think apparel is where we have the greatest opportunity now,” said New Balance chief Jim Davis. The firm has sought to add fashion with brighter colors and silhouettes that can cross over from high-impact sports to more low-key activities. In a sector dominated by giants like Nike and Adidas, NB is one of the few large remaining privately held athletic firms. It has been expanding its portfolio in recent years through licenses and acquisitions and now owns brands including PF Flyers, Warrior Lacrosse and Dunham. New Balance has also worked to expand internationally and is targeting South America, Europe and Japan.

25. GUCCI
Product: Designer ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories, cosmetics.
Volume: Gucci division 2005 revenue: 1.81 billion euros, or $2.28 billion at current exchange
Owner: PPR SA, Paris

Gucci celebrates its 85th anniversary this year and is making sure customers know it. Creative director Frida Giannini is rolling out limited-edition handbags for the occasion, including a patchwork number featuring multicolored strips of reptile skin. The house is also publishing a commemorative coffee table book, “Gucci by Gucci,” which is packed with archival images. Meanwhile, the brand is preparing to unveil its latest store concept in Asia come November. The new design, featuring brushed metals and rosewood, will bow first at The Landmark in Hong Kong and later at two more sites in Japan, including an eight-story Ginza flagship and corporate headquarters tower.

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