NEW TRADE GROUP'S ADS PROMOTE DRESSIER ATTIRE: ACCESSORIES AND CLOTHIERS SEEK TO COUNTER CASUAL TRENDS

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Casual Fridays have been a weekly celebration for the cubicle crowd, but for some marketers they're as welcome as a boss at an office birthday party.

The industry trade associations whose members have been hurt by informal 1990s office attire-apparel marketers, jewelry makers, dry cleaners-have banded together to fight back against the casual trend.

A new umbrella group, called the Tailored Apparel, Jewelry & Accessories Council, will launch a $15 million campaign in April to improve the dress habits of baby boomer and Gen X consumers.

The council expects to introduce the three-year ad campaign at the annual convention of the International Association of Clothing Designers & Executives next month; the ads, from ad agency Transfusion, New York, are in production this week, said Bill D'Arienzo, executive director of that group.

"It's an attempt to re-establish that dressing up can be fun," said Mr. D'Arienzo, who denied that the new effort is designed to combat casual clothes.

TAILORED CLOTHING SUFFERS

But the rise of casual dressing-particularly at work-has hemmed in sales of tailored clothing, such as suits. Tailored men's clothing has gone from 11.1% of apparel dollar sales in 1994 to 8.3% in 1998, while women's tailored wear is basically stagnant at 25.1%, from 24.7% in 1994, according to figures from consultancy NPD Group.

Mr. D'Arienzo's association teamed with the Fashion Association, American Apparel Manufacturers Association, Woolmark Co. and other trade groups to form the new council.

The advertising's tagline, "It's time to get dressed," will run in point-of-purchase displays announcing a sweepstakes that offers a year's worth of free dry cleaning, among other prizes. The sweepstakes will get a plug on the council's new Web site, which will go online by early May.

In the second stage of the campaign, outdoor ads will run in 2000 and print and

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