Hypercolor is hot stuff with the young crowd

October 02, 1991|By Clifford Glickman | Clifford Glickman,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Hypercolor could be the next Nehru jacket or maybe just maybe the next denim.

Like those innovations, the color-changing Hypercolor clothing has become the hot apparel item. The question is, what happens to sales when Hypercolor cools off? Will it disappear like the Nehru jacket or endure like denim?

Seattle-based Generra Sportswear, the exclusive seller of Hypercolor garments in the United States, expected to sell $20 million worth of the garments its first year. By mid-April, the company had $50 million in orders.

It had to cease taking orders for about two months before it could gear up production to meet demand.

Hypercolor is the brand name to describe clothes that have been dyed a special way. Matsui Shikoshi, a Japanese chemical company, developed dyes that disappear at certain temperatures.

Clothes are dyed normally. Then, a second layer of the special dye in a different color covers the first layer. When exposed to sunlight or skin, the clothing heats up enough to make the special dye disappear, so the clothing appears to change color.

Generra bought the worldwide (except Japan) rights to use Matsui's dyes in clothing. Most of Generra's sales have been in T-shirts, which sell for $20 and up, and some socks, to boys and girls.

But Generra is trying to broaden Hypercolor's market beyond boys and girls. It is starting to ship long-sleeve T-shirts and sweatshirts. It is adding layers of dyes that disappear at different temperatures to create clothing that changes colors more than once.

Which brings up the biggest challenge now facing Generra preventing Hypercolor's runaway success from running away.

Hypercolor wear is available at area Macy's and Merry-Go-Round stores.

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