NEW LINE KEEPS SKIN SHARK-SMOOTH

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TOKYO-No time to pamper your skin?

A Japanese producer of cotton thread has come up with a solution: a fabric that moisturizes the skin while you wear it.

Fuji Spinning Co. has developed a textile impregnated with a moisturizing compound made from shark livers, called squalane, a widely used ingredient in cosmetics in Japan and Europe. The fabric moisturizes the skin as it's worn and will last through 30 washings.

Fuji is marketing its own line of lingerie, called Care Treatments, and has sold the textile to other clothing marketers, including Wacoal Ltd., Japan's leading lingerie maker; catalogue marketers Cecile and Shaddy and supermarkets Ito Yokado and Seiyu, under their own labels.

None, however, have put any money into promoting the lines, saying they typically try out new items without advertising. Fuji said it was relying on publicity and a brochure, created in-house, sent to its business customers, the way it introduces all new textiles.

Fuji, which does no advertising, and the other marketers indicated that approach isn't unusual for an industry that comes up with as many as 500 new fabrics each year to combat a declining market. Some are traditional and others bizarre, such as one that changes colors with the outside temperature.

And although Fuji can't keep up with demand, it isn't convinced it has a winner since the product is new and often sales of such novelties are big at first. Fuji's sales of squalane goods are projected at $356 million during the first year, accounting for about 0.5% of the company's sales.

And, even priced at 20%-30% higher than more traditional rivals, the squalane garments have captured 0.4% of the $3.7 billion women's underwear market.

Fuji's long-sleeved T-shirt vest, for example, costs $17.80, and pair of Fuji's Care Treatment shorts goes for $8.90-a bargain basement price for a beauty treatment.

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