Alan and Lori Kaplan are very serious about the business of bras. Their boutique, Bra*Tenders, is a quirky and vibrant shop with a Broadway-theme tucked inside The Film Center Building on Ninth Avenue in NYC’s Theater district. This hidden gem is not your typical bra store. There’s no store front. Passersby would never know it was there. Non-theatrical clients (civilians like you and me) are required to make an appointment. And they do very little advertising. They don’t need to…. Alan and Lori carved out their niche nearly thirty years ago and have maintained loyalty to the clients that supported them in those early days when they hand-delivered undergarments to Broadway Theater stage doors from their home in Brooklyn. They have built their business by catering to “theatrical clients” in the entertainment industry. Over the years they have provided undergarments, stockings and other unique intimate accessories (like the “Houdini” for men) to thousands of performers in showbiz.
Besides the occasional listing in a Playbill, Alan and Lori get little credit for the work they do. But they have vowed to help all of their customers find the undergarments that help them look and feel their best. This commitment to providing impeccable customer service sets them apart from other intimate apparel shops in the area. They dedicate a full hour to every customer that comes through the door. This is why non-theatrical clients are required to schedule an appointment. Professional Fit Specialist, Cristal Gordon, sees a client every hour of every day, five to six days per week. She says, “Every hour is a different boob; and that’s a lot of boob!” Dedicating a full hour to every client ensures a loyal customer. As Cristal says, “Finding the right bra isn’t an easy task.” The unique store often sees brides-to-be looking for a solution-type undergarment to wear on that special day, full-busted and full-figure women that are “hard to fit,” and simply women that are struggling to find a great bra that fits properly and feels good. The store has held private bridal parties, bachelorette parties and even “Bra-Mitzvahs!” Bra*Tenders carries every brand imaginable including top-sellers such as Wacoal, Fantasie, Freya, Chantelle, Panache, Cleo, Le Mystere, Simone Perele, The Little Bra Company, and b’temptd.
Although this is plenty to keep any lingerie aficionado satisfied, what really intrigues me about Bra*Tenders is what goes on “behind the scenes.” Bra*Tenders has a team devoted to filling orders for the shop’s theatrical clients. Wardrobe supervisors and costume designers are not required to make an appointment. They often walk in with a cast list as long as your arm. They provide the Bra*Tenders staff with their requirements and a list of measurements and the team gets to work filling the order. Behind the “stage door” are racks and racks of bras and other specialty undergarments and accessories. And there are half a dozen people picking and packing undergarments for shipment or hand delivery to theaters and studios around the globe. Bra*Tenders has such strong relationships with their theatrical clients that they often send out garments on “memo.” This means that the staff will select a handful of styles and sizes that they think will suit the performer. They messenger the garments to the client. She (or he) tries on the assorted styles and picks the best ones. Then, they return the balance. The cast members never have to set foot in the store! And, Bra*Tenders keeps track of each performer’s prior purchases and sizes. So when they’re performing in their next show, the wardrobe supervisor simply asks Bra*Tenders to check their records. This level of service is unheard of in the fast-paced environment we’ve all grown accustomed to. But Lori says, “Our theatrical clients come before everything else. I don’t know how to do it any other way.” I can see why the Kaplan’s have dedicated their business to serving this unique client….. A typical performer goes through a dozen pairs of pantyhose a week! By providing undergarments to theater, television and film, Alan and Lori have built a “Broadway Bra Empire.” Further attesting to their dedication, although the shop is only open from 10am-6pm, Alan and Lori are available 24 hours a day to solve a costume emergency or wardrobe malfunction.
This highly unique bra boutique will play the role of “host” in Bra La Mode’s Debut Intimate Affair on Sunday, January 29, 2012 from noon to 4pm. The in-store bra fit event will provide women of all ages, shapes, and sizes the opportunity to receive a free bra fitting as well as education on the importance of a proper fit courtesy of Bra*Tenders. Various designers, authors, photographers, and “Bra-lebrities” will also be on hand to showcase everything from newly released books to the classic white work shirt. Attendees will snack on champagne and cupcakes while they mix and mingle with the hottest lingerie professionals in the New York area. The event is sponsored in collaboration with the world- renowned French lingerie brand, Chantelle Paris, and in association with the leading lingerie trade publication, The Lingerie Journal.
The event will include a trunk show by Darlene Campbell of the full-busted clothing company Campbell and Kate. Darlene will be showcasing her innovative“CEO Shirt for the D.E.F. Woman” which ensures that all women can own a classic white shirt that fits them beautifully all over. Author and bra-fit expert Ali Cudby will be signing copies of her recently released book “Busted: The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras that Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic.” Professional photographer Michael Steele who is known for “capturing the female form” will be snapping candid shots of guests enjoying the soiree. Guests will be treated to champagne and cupcakes courtesy of M Squared Sweet and Chic Treats. All sponsors of the event have generously contributed product for giveaways and/or gifts with purchase.
The highlight of the Intimate Affair will be the raffle for a Grand Prize basket that is estimated as having a value of over $600. Contributors to the raffle prize include Bra La Mode, Chantelle Paris, The Lingerie Journal, Campbell and Kate, author Ali Cudby, Ann Deal of Fashion Forms, international intimate apparel brand Anita, photographer Michael Steele, and “Bra-lebrity” Jene’ Luciani. Additional sponsors of the event include the wholesale buying platform Monkey N Middle and guitarist Alan Brace. All guests at the event will receive one entry into the raffle and guests that make a purchase of a bra at the event will receive a second entry into the raffle. Attendees can purchase a third entry for the raffle by donating to pediatric rehabilitation at a prominent NYC medical center, supporting the non-profit Intimate Apparel Square Club and their fundraising efforts.
Guests are encouraged to RSVP for the Intimate Affair at: www.bralamode.eventbrite.com
Bra*Tenders is located at:
630 Ninth Avenue at 44th Street, Suite # 601
New York City, NY