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A file photo of Gildan products.

christinne muschi The Globe and Mail

T-shirt and casual wear giant Gildan Activewear Inc. is buying a piece of American lore with the $88-million (U.S.) acquisition of New York-based apparel maker Anvil Holdings Inc.

Anvil is the parent company of Anvil Knitwear, whose roots go back 130 years as the cotton apparel manufacturer that produced the famous BVD brand of underwear and swimsuits.

Over the years, the term "BVD" entered the language as a generic term for underwear.

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There have been countless popular culture references to the brand in song, books, films and television.

The BVD trademark was sold to Fruit of the Loom in 1976, 100 years after it was launched, and the company did business under the name Anvil Knitwear.

Anvil later diversified into T-shirts and helped push the erstwhile underwear garment into a ubiquitous outerwear and fashion garment.

The company is also known for its line of 100-per-cent organic T-shirts.

Montreal-based Gildan said on Thursday that the Anvil deal will immediately provide Gildan with higher market share in the U.S. T-shirt distributor channel, for the same investment that would have to be made in organic growth.

Gildan said in a news release that the purchase will "generate significant synergies."

"We believe that the acquisition of Anvil and the combination of the compatible cultures and strengths of our two companies will position Gildan to further enhance our product offering for our print wear customers and build further on our leadership position in this market," Gildan president and chief executive Glenn Chamandy said.

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Gildan derives a significant part of its revenue from the sale of blank T-shirts, sports shirts and fleece, which are then decorated by screenprinters with designs and logos.

Gildan also reported on Thursday that it booked a second-quarter profit of $26.9-million or 22 cents per share, compared with $61.7-million or 50 cents per share in the second quarter of 2011.

Sales in the quarter were $482.6-million, up 25.9 per cent from $383.2-milliion.

The company cited higher cotton and other input costs and higher income taxes compared with last year. This was partially offset by higher printwear sales volumes, thy benefit of selling price increases to U.S. retail customers, improved manufacturing efficiencies and the accretive impact of sock-maker Gold Toe Moretz.

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