HAGGAR, FARAH, LEVI'S IRON OUT THE WRINKLES

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There are some new wrinkles in the booming wrinkle-free pants market.

A relatively new technology introduced more than two years ago, wrinkle-free cotton slacks now account for more than 60% of the $2 billion men's cotton pants category. And that number jumps to 80% of sales in department stores alone.

As a result, the Big 3 players-Farah USA's Savane line, Haggar Apparel Co. and Levi Strauss & Co.'s Dockers-all plan to expand the wrinkle-free concept this year into shirts and shorts and offer more lively designs.

Dockers commands the largest dollar share of the men's market in better department stores at 42%, according to the NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Farah ranks second with 35%, followed by Haggar at 20%. In all outlets, including mass merchandisers, Haggar and Dockers are roughly equal at about 30% each while Farah, which sells only in department stores, drops to a 10% share.

Marketers are trying to entice more male consumers with a range of technological improvements, including wrinkle-free, stain-resistant, soft-wash cotton pants from Farah that will be rolled out this summer, said Marketing Director Dirk Van Slyke.

Farah's Savane recently launched men's wrinkle-free cotton shirts. Farah posted sales of $240 million in 1994, of which 65% belonged to Savane.

Haggar had more than $491 million in sales last year; wrinkle-free clothing accounted for 34.6%.

This year, Haggar plans to boost marketing spending 40% to $35 million, with a significant portion of the budget dedicated to wrinkle-resistant products, said Alan Burks, Haggar's senior VP-marketing.

A new print, outdoor, network and cable TV ad campaign, breaking this spring from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, will focus on Haggar's new wrinkle-resistant shorts. More ads will follow, spotlighting wrinkle-free shirts and new patterns and colors. The campaign will run on network and cable TV and in national magazines.

Farah has budgeted $13 million for marketing this year, Mr. Van Slyke said. Starting this spring, the company will run print, TV and radio ads from GSD&M, Austin, Texas, supporting all wrinkle-resistant products including a new soft-wash, wrinkle-free pant bowing this spring.

Levi Strauss' Dockers is a relative newcomer to the category but has shot up from third place to No. 1 since bringing out its first wrinkle-resistant pants in late 1993. Levi Strauss & Co. Marketing Director Brad Williams attributes the quick rise to customer loyalty, brand recognition and aggressive marketing .

It is estimated that total Dockers' sales hit $1 billion in 1994, in part thanks to casual Fridays in the workplace. Dockers is expected to offer more products this year, including wrinkle-free dress shirts.

The company spends an estimated $25 million on advertising annually for Dockers, including the wrinkle-free products, via Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco. No print ads are slated for now, but plans are under way for a new multimedia campaign later this year that will incorporate all new products.

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