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first look at 2004 fashions

first look at 2004 fashions

Byline: Kim Mitchell

What will be hot for women in 2004? There are plenty of new styles, super fabrics and exciting colors being positioned to boost your promotional apparel sales and create new opportunities.

Keep in mind that in addition to regular uniform and corporate program buyers, suppliers say resort retail shops, beauty shops or retailers, restaurants and lounges, fitness centers, tourist/souvenir shops, colleges, production and promotion companies, radio stations, women’s symposiums and golf tournaments all offer countless opportunities. Catalogs and gift programs are staples. Non-profit and youth groups are other avenues waiting to be explored.

Currently there is increased interest in lifestyle items such as yogawear and tracksuits. Basic scoopneck tees and classic tank tops are huge sellers. Fleece is a staple. “Girly tees in a 1×1 rib, like the cap-sleeve, raglan tees, tank tops and crew tees are definitely hot sellers,” says Tabitha Manresa, marketing manager for The Americana Company. Americana is adding a new ladies’ denim style to coordinate with current traditional denim styles. The company also plans some new tee styles and new styles and colors in its fleece offerings. Outerwear appears to be a growing segment of the ladies market and snuggly robes are elbowing their way into the mix.

On the way out: Boxy golf shirts and polos are headed for the recycle bin. Pleated pants, mercifully, also are exiting the market. Anything that is sized for women, but not sized for them, is fading off the radar screen. And despite the ongoing popularity of Brittany Spears and her contemporaries, sales of cropped style shirts are down, some suppliers say.

Remember, what sells for men does not sell for women. John Meis of Weatherproof/MV Sport notes that the company’s microsuede windshirt with knit bottom band, knit cuffs and a placket with bold snaps is popular with men but research in the retail market showed women hate knit bottom bands and cuffs. “So our ladies complementary style is the same fabric, but a different silhouette,” Meis says. “It has an adjustable bungee draw cord bottom and a cuff with a button. The placket is deeper and the buttons are concealed. When women see this style, they say ‘You guys really get it, don’t you?'”

Across the board suppliers are offering exciting and fresh new feminine looks for 2004. Hanes Printables is capitalizing on the popularity of its 1×1 rib fabric to introduce several new styles, including a long-sleeve tee and a V-neck tee. For young at heart consumers they’re adding raglan cap-sleeve and ringer tees with matching jersey shorts. For the resort market Hanes is launching a sleeveless polo and a 3/4-sleeve V-neck hoodie. Hanes also is introducing a full-zip hooded jacket, pant and a short in a great French terry fabric. Among the new ladies’ items highlighting King Louie’s 2004 line are the Sandpiper, style W4000, a Ladies’ Scoop Neck 95% cotton, 5% Lycra jersey in 3/4-length sleeve that will be offered in black, white and fuchsia as part of the TimeOut for Her collection. Another is “Chloe” style W4030, a ladies’ stretch fleece body made of 95% cotton/5% Lycra. It has sherpa fleece arms, collar and V-notch.

At Denver-based Tehama, colorful pique polos and matching cardigan sweaters have been selling well. Co-founder Nancy Haley says the sales of jackets with banded bottoms and elastic sides have fallen off and are being replaced with a style that is a slightly fitted zip front jacket with open/straight bottom and sleeves. To that end, Tehama is adding a technical wind jacket in a water-resistant fabric that is more fitted with sleek lines. Tehama is also offering a new zip-out sleeve vest/jacket.

Capital Mercury Apparel has won great success with its wrinkle-free woven items and women’s sweater set. The company’s wrinkle-free poplin and wrinkle-free end-on-end are selling well, according to David Bebon, vice president, director of special markets.

New for 2004 is a Bill Blass Premium printed camp shirt, with a men’s companion piece. Also on tap is a wrinkle-blended pinpoint oxford with HT Teflon finish in white, light blue and French blue, also with a men’s companion piece. “Our end-on-end woven will also introduce new colors in 2004,” Bebon says.

PremiumWear sees strong sales in wovens with stretch like poplins and camp shirts. Ultra-soft ribs in clean, contemporary silhouettes also are selling. “Offering styles in ladies-only colorations has been very successful for us in the Munsingwear and Jockey lines,” says Doree Wendling, director of advertising and sales promotion. Those colors include pistachio, pink and iris.

New from PremiumWear is a ladies Outfitter Fleece in the Field & Stream line, meant to coordinate with a men’s piece but featuring a waistcoat-style full zip front, with a self-fabric curved hem and self-fabric collar. Jockey is adding new colors to its fashion rib knit collection, along with a new, comfort wash twill that coordinates with a men’s style, but is available in both coordinating and ladies’s specific colors. Another coordinate – a 70% rayon/30% poly, tonal floral camp shirt – also is on tap.

For 2004 Antigua has several fresh new styles on tap, including Carefree – Antigua’s Desert Dry fabric in a sleeveless silhouette; Competitor – a matchable short-sleeve polo with a modified V-neck; Club House – a mercerized baby pique polo with a modified V-neck; Intuition – a two-toned sanded microfiber jacket in female-centric colors; Back Nine – an island print matchable polo; and 19th Hole – an oxford plaid matchable polo with a modified V-neck.

At Bolingbrook, Ill.-based S&S Activewear, additions for 2004 include Bill Blass Premium styles that are corporate, but go beyond traditional polos to include button-down poplins and camp shirts, as well as new fleece styles, some sheer fabrications and several Bella casual stretch styles.

For now Vancouver, B.C.-based Pimlico, maker of ID Wear and Sami Athletica, is keeping a low profile on its new ladies wear, but the company says it is adding some 15 new women’s styles for 2004, including jackets, tops and bottoms.

At MV Sport additions include tees, a zip sweatshirt and the color pink in several items. On the Weatherproof side the company is adding a ladies’ rain slicker. “We will add a couple more items once we get a read on what is selling well in department stores this fall and once we see what the Spring Bookings look like,” says national sales director John Meis.

For its part, Denver-based Colorado Trading & Clothing’s corporate apparel line is launching ladies’ Soy tees and Jersey fleece, which is jersey cotton dyed to match a poly fleece on the reverse side. Colorado Trading’s new resort line, Micro Chenille “Luxury Knits” sports 80% ladies’ styles.

Avenel, N.J.-based Vantage is adding more women’s styles for 2004. Among them is style 2706, the Women’s Long-Sleeve Silk Polo, a silk/cotton blend with a narrow reverse no-button placket. In style 2901, the Women’s Open Placket Pique Polo, a new color – Chili – has been added for 2004.

Alpha Shirt Company’s growing Devon & Jones line also features new women’s styles for 2004. Devon & Jones D440W is the Ladies’ Country Club Lisle Polo, made of 100% Peruvian Pima cotton, mercerized lisle jersey. It has a ribbed knit placket with dyed-to-match buttons, a feminine eyelet collar and cuffs. Devon & Jones D530W (shown on the cover of this issue) is the Ladies Pima Stretch Poplin, made of 97% Peruvian Pima cotton and 3% Dupont Lycra. It has a straight point collar, French placket with 7 durapearl buttons, and adjustable cuffs.

A women’s 3-in-1 system jacket is a highlight of Trimark Sportswear Group’s 2004 women’s offerings. Trimark’s proprietary Outer Boundary label style 9197 is the women’s jacket that coordinates with men’s style 9097. The 9197 is a waterproof, breathable seam-sealed jacket with a zip-out micrfleece liner that can also be worn separately. The shell has an embroidery access zipper, and two inside pockets (including one with a headphone port). Another catchy new women’s item from Trimark is Rivers End style 627, the Ladies’ Stretch Poplin Shirt, a button-front woven made of 98% cotton and 2% Spandex. It has a hidden button-down placket.

So there’s your head’s up on what suppliers have coming in their 2004 catalogs. While these styles will all be in stock in January, many of them are already in stock or will be well before the year ends.

Kim Mitchell is a Denver-based writer and a frequent contributor to Wearables Business.

Suppliers mentioned in this feature:

Alpha Shirt Company/Devon & Jones: 800-523-4585 American Apparel: 213-488-0226 The Americana Company: 800-822-5520 Antigua Group: 877-610-1444 Bella: 323-727-2005 Capital Mercury/Bill Blass Premium: 800-227-6372 Colorado Trading & Clothing: 888-363-9327 Hanes Printables: 800-685-7557 ID Wear/Sami Athletica: 888-433-3646 King Louie/TimeOut for Her: 800-521-5212 PremiumWear: 800-347-6098 S&S Activewear: 800-523-2155 Tehama: 800-955-9400 Trimark Sportswear Group: 800-488-4800 Vantage: 800-221-0020 Weatherproof/MV Sport: 800-367-7900

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