Du Pont slips into Web sales by selling toeless Lycra hose

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Du Pont Co. will wet its toes in the e-commerce wave next month when it unveils toeless hosiery made from Lycra.

Du Pont, primarily a textile manufacturer, is making its first foray into online sales, but only for this summer, by featuring the unusual hosiery product made with its Lycra fiber. The company has no plans to become an apparel retailer, but the toeless hose proved an appropriate way to promote the use of Lycra among apparel companies and consumers, said Linda Kearns, global brand manager for the synthetic fabric.

"We're certainly not in the business of selling . . . the real purpose is to bring a new idea to consumers," Ms. Kearns said. "The goal of our business is to stimulate consumer interest."


The idea for the Lycra promotion came to Ms. Kearns during a recent trip to Brazil, where a local colleague introduced her to toeless hose.

On April 1, Du Pont will begin selling the hosiery through the summer on Lycra's Web site (lycra.com). The sheer hose, produced by Brazilian company Scalina and selling at $6 a pair, secures around the toes to allow women to wear it with open-toe shoes.

Du Pont will support the effort with online promotions and public relations efforts from Lycra ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi Business Communications, Rochester, N.Y., and PR agency Rowland Co., New York.

Lycra also is busy preparing the latest flight of a $40 million global branding campaign that began last May and is themed "Enjoy the difference." Du Pont late this spring breaks the first TV spot in the push, focusing on

the difference Lycra makes in how clothes look and fit, Ms. Kearns said.


New print ads debut in April magazines, continuing to focus on the variety of products made with Lycra.

Du Pont has set a 8% annual growth target for Lycra during the next five years. The company hopes to stretch Lycra further into new demographic groups, such as teens and men, and to encourage its use in new product categories such as shoes, children's apparel and men's wear.

The global campaign expanded Lycra's efforts to target men and teens for the first time, including a back-to-school promotion and tie-ins to Teen People and teen-oriented films (AA, March 1, '99).

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