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Apparel manufacturer Salant Corp. sought refuge in bankruptcy court Wednesday after struggling unsuccessfully with debts incurred in buying a larger rival two years ago.

It was the second filing under Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code for the New York-based clothing company, whose nationally known brands include Dr. Denton sleepwear, John Henry shirts and Lady Manhattan sportswear.

Salant emerged from its first bankruptcy case three years ago. Shortly thereafter it began building a stake in Manhattan Industries Inc., a much bigger competitor that it eventually bought for $105 million in the spring of 1988.

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