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Guilford bunks down with Jockey license

NEW YORK -Wearing your underwear to bed may soon take on a whole new meaning with Guilford Home Fashions.

The home textiles division of Guilford Mills Inc., based here, announced last week that it had entered into an agreement with Jockey International Inc. to produce a collection of bedding and accessories.

According to Herb Briggs, president of GHF, Guilford began looking for a license with a worldwide name that the home textiles manufacturer could partner with for a joint venture. The agreement marks the first time the 125-year-old well-known brand, based in Kenosha, WI, will depart from its primary channel of manufacturing clothing and underwear for men, women and children.

"We are [similar] companies in many ways," Briggs told Home Textiles Today. "I think it will be a good marriage for both."

"It's all about brand building," said Bob Nolan, president of Jockey brands, about the reasons behind the union. "At Jockey we have a very strong brand. We think brand extensions are very good as long as you do it with the right products. Jockey is also about comfort; and what is more comfortable than comfortable sheets? We thought it was a natural extension to get into the home fashions business.

"We think Guilford is a good partner," he continued. "They have a good design team, and it's just going to make our brand stronger."

The Jockey ensemble will debut as two labels, Jockey Home and Jockey Classic, with some crossover in color and design as well as demographic. However, each is aimed at a specific consumer age group.

Both lines will be made primarily from Supima cotton and will use Lycra in their construction, designed to make them snug fitting and anti-slip. Several innovations, which borrow from the Jockey underwear line, will also appear on various items, such as the "Y" front design featured on the Jockey Classic Brief. The "Y" front will appear on fitted sheets and textural interest will be a primary part of the design of both lines.

The Classic line will consist of jersey-knit products in navy, pewter, khaki and white, with seasonal colors interjected. Designed with a spa/athletic feeling and with sleek, contemporary lines, Classic will be aimed at the 18-to-35-year-old demographic.

"We're really pulling out the stops to launch this line correctly," commented Briggs, who said the line will be offered in two stages. The first stage is set for launch for the spring market in March, while the second stage to hit shelves by the fall. 'Stage One' will encompass sheet sets, comforters, duvets, throws and decorative pillows, while 'Stage Two' will focus on the bathroom with shower curtains and towels being introduced.

"We feel this is a great, fresh story, and we've really pulled it together. We're building a product that is unique in design and construction," Briggs added.

The Jockey Home label, aimed at a 30-to-50-year-old demographic, will also feature jersey sheeting and be slightly more upscale and sophisticated in design. It will be offered in saffron, spice, pear, plum and charcoal colorways designed to provide for a sportier, male look. Sage, alpine, smoke, haze and blush colorways will be offered for more of a feminine bedroom look. The master bedroom aspect of Home will also take advantage of cotton/synthetic blend Sensura fabric by Wellman Inc., Shrewsberry, NJ.

To showcase the new license, Briggs also said Guilford would construct a new showroom and introduce new packaging. The showroom will debut as part of spring market, while the packaging, Briggs said, "will speak to the identity of the product" by using a sleek, frosted plastic box.

"The Jockey line will be clean, simple and fresh," he said. "It's about value, comfort, performance, and-I think the best way to put it is-it's about casual luxury."

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