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Intimate Insight: 7 Steps to Boost Your Lingerie Business by Ali Cudby

22 Jan

I talk to people in the lingerie industry every day, and a lot of them – particularly the smaller, independent companies – ask the same questions again and again.  Namely, how can they build their business?  How can they boost their bottom line and be more profitable without having the business take over their lives completely.  7 Steps to Boost Your Lingerie Business takes real-world examples of companies from throughout the industry and applies an important business objective to each one.  Manufacturers, retailers and even bloggers will get tremendous value from this book because it’s about the world we live in, written in the terms we all deal with every day.

7Steps to Boost Your Lingerie Business_3D_FINALDownload your FREE copy of Bra Fit Expert Ali Cudby’s latest eBook using this link exclusively for Bra La Mode readers: 

Intimate Insight: Take Your Business to the Next Level

15 Oct

I wanted to post a personal note about a subject that is always a “hot topic” in industry news: proper fit, function and the sizing of bras. Everywhere you look, a news outlet is talking about how many women are wearing the wrong size bra. And in the past year or so, we have seen numerous brands and businesses attempting to resolve this issue with new fit techniques, new sizing systems, innovative business models, at-home fittings, subscription services, apps, algorithms, etc, etc. As we all know from working in this industry, it’s not easy to properly fit a woman to make sure she is in the best sized bra for her. That is where Ali Cudby comes into the picture!

FFA_LOGOAli Cudby, the author of Busted! The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras that Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic, started the FabFit Academy where you can take a virtual certification course to become an expert fitter! I highly regard Ali’s methodology and suggest that you arm yourself with the expertise to give you the competitive edge that is so desperately needed to stand out in this difficult market. In my business, I am always looking for ways to differentiate my services and provide added value. Here’s one opportunity to set yourself apart!

Whether you are an emerging brand, start-up company, manufacturer, retailer or other industry pro, you can benefit from Ali’s course. It’s in our best interest to keep up-to-date on the latest happenings in the business.

Because I believe in Ali’s expertise and want to see all of us excel in our respective businesses, I am offering a 1 Hour FREE Skype Video Chat Consultation to anyone that signs up for Ali’s upcoming course using this link:

http://www.fabfitacademy.com/bra-la-mode/

Ali has extended the deadline to register….. exclusively for friends of Bra La Mode….Register by Tuesday, October 22nd!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hone your skills and ultimately increase your revenues.

May All of your Dreams Become a Reality!

Moira

Only 1 FREE Hour Skype Video Chat Consultation per Registrant. New Clients Only. You will be contacted to schedule your 1 FREE Hour by November 15, 2013. FREE Consultation to take place prior to February 1, 2014.

Bra Breaking News: Bra La Mode Consulting Officially Launches

31 Jul

I am pleased to announce the official launch of Bra La Mode Consulting.  I initally launched Bra La Mode in September 2011 with the notion that I could be of service to individuals and/or businesses that are looking to break into the intimate apparel industry.  Over the course of the past two years, it became apparent that there was a definitive need for the services I could provide.  The business has evolved over time, and the result is Bra La Mode Consulting. 

I established the full-service consulting company to assist independent lingerie designers, start-up companies and other small, wholesale Intimate Apparel businesses in executing their vision. 

From concept to consumer, I collaborate with my clients, evaluate their individual needs and formulate a strategic plan to execute their initiatives.

Some clients approach me in the concept stage. We work together to establish a solid business plan and budget; we focus on brand identity, define the target consumer, determine key differentiators, create a marketing strategy, and then move forward with a clear plan of action.  I walk my clients through product development, pre-production and production, including the sourcing of materials and locating the appropriate production facility (domestic or overseas)….all the way through the launch of their brand or business.

Others reach out to me after they’ve launched. We evaluate their current business to determine weaknesses and missing links. Is their marketing strategy in sync with their brand identity? Do they have a clearly defined target consumer or are they still trying to target a base of consumers that is too broad? How can we tighten up their strategy to achieve success?

I take great pleasure in watching my clients’ businesses evolve and grow. Each client is different. With a one-on-one approach, I devise a strategic plan tailored specifically to each brand’s individual needs and implement key initiatives to execute their objectives.

Bra La Mode Consulting Announcement_FINALFor additional information on Bra La Mode’s Intimate Apparel Consulting Services or to arrange a personal assessment of your current Intimates business, please contact me

Follow @MoiraNelson & @BraLaMode

www.facebook.com/BraLaMode

It’s Time for a Change: Freshpair to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of National Underwear Day

21 Aug

Freshpair.com, the leading online underwear retailer and go-to source for expert advice on men’s and women’s underwear and intimates,  will unveil its one-of-a-kind “It’s Time for a Change” pop-up store in New York City tomorrow, August 22nd, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of National Underwear Day, the company’s signature holiday.  Paying homage to a decade of underwear celebration, as well as the personalized experience its online customers will now enjoy following the company’s rebranding, Freshpair invites everyone to 315 W. 57th Street in Manhattan, August 22nd and 23rd, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.   

The “It’s Time for a Change” experience store will offer free underwear from the event’s title sponsors—Calvin Klein, Wacoal, Leonisa, Emporio Armani, 2xist, C-IN2, Rated M, and others—as well as demonstrations of Freshpair’s signature At Home Bra Fitting and Men’s Underwear Club services, advice from style gurus, exclusive specials and giveaways, and a walk through model alley where New York’s top models will be showing off the latest underwear looks. 

“We feel that it’s time for a change and that the perfect fit shouldn’t be a secret,” says Matthew Butlein, President of Freshpair.com.  “With both our new site launch and this year’s National Underwear Day celebration, we want to empower our customers to find the style and fit that will make them look and feel their best.”  Matthew continues, “It’s time to change and personalize our customers’ online underwear buying experience, which is what we do.” 

Designed to emulate the unique online experience that Freshpair provides its online customers, the “It’s Time for a Change” pop-up store will engage visitors at first glance.  With dozens of underwear brands and styles showcased on a bevy of beautiful models, personalized advice and style tips from Freshpair experts, exclusive specials and giveaways, refreshments, music, and VIP treatment in the Freshpair Lounge, consumers will delight in the celebration that is National Underwear Day. 

But the fun isn’t limited to New York!

Everyone is invited to “get briefed” on his/her underwear personality with Freshpair’s signature “Underwear I.D. Quiz” and receive special offers on future purchases.  The quiz is fun and interactive, and provides suggested styles based on your results.  Visit quiz.freshpair.com to participate.    

In addition to the quiz, promotions will be in place on both the men’s and women’s Facebook pages starting Wednesday August 22 through Friday August 24.  On the men’s page, Freshpair will be running a promotion to enter for a chance to win a free pair of underwear from either Calvin Klein, 2(x)ist, Emporio Armani, or C-IN2.  For women, enter for a chance to win a free lingerie set from Chantelle, Simone Perele, or Wacoal.

For more information about National Underwear Day visit www.Freshpair.com.

About Freshpair.com

Freshpair is the world’s leading internet retailer for men’s underwear and women’s lingerie needs.  Freshpair has been on the industry’s cutting edge since the company was founded in 2000.  With its proprietary At Home Bra Fitting, Men’s Underwear Club, and subscription services, Freshpair offers a consumer experience not found anywhere else.  Carrying thousands of styles from more than 100 brands, matched with exceptional advice and excellent customer care, Freshpair is the consumer market leader for underwear and lingerie needs.

Intimate Insight: Curvy Kate Launches “Star in a Bra” Model Search in the USA

22 Feb

It was over a year ago that I first discovered the UK brand, Curvy Kate.  As a full-busted consumer, I am always on the lookout for new brands which cater to women like me.  And as an intimate apparel professional, I make it my business to know what’s happening in the world of lingerie.  I was immediately drawn to the youthful, playful and flirtatious styling of the brand and anxious to find out how to get my hands on a matching set.  And it was great to see the product on curvy models that looked like me!  But more importantly, it was their business strategy that caught my attention.  Besides the fact that they had over 400% growth in the few short years since launching the brand, I was very impressed with the company’s innovative approach to marketing. 

Late last year I wrote an article for The Lingerie Journal about the importance of social media in the intimate apparel industry.  I identified Curvy Kate as one of several intimate apparel brands which are doing a great job utilizing social media to promote themselves.  I wrote, “In the U.K., the newcomer on the scene is a full-busted brand called Curvy Kate…..they’ve come on the scene and made quite an impression. And the bulk of their marketing has been a “grassroots” social media campaign. Curvy Kate is active on the internet and appeals to the “everywoman.” Rather than hire expensive models to promote their brand, they conducted a model search called “Star in a Bra.” All of the Curvy Kate models are amateurs who submitted themselves to be the face and bust of the brand. And the best part is that we get to be the judge!”

At that time, Curvy Kate was only available in the UK and in Europe and was starting to take hold in Australia.  But this relatively small, full-busted UK label has since gone global.  And much of this success is due to their innovative “grassroots” marketing and PR initiatives.  The brand is now being sold in specialty shops throughout the US and is available on the leading intimate apparel ecommerce site, BareNecessities.com.

To celebrate the brand’s foray into the US market, the company has recently announced that they are bringing their annual Star in a Bra competition to the US.  Starting in April, the brand will scour the United States for a naturally curvy woman who will become the face and body of the brand.  Going against the grain, Curvy Kate champions shapely figures by searching for D plus girls who are curvy, charismatic and confident with a fuller body and a natural full bust.

The Star in a Bra search will be run through the brand’s new USA Facebook page and they encourage fans to submit their favorite lingerie photos to win an international modeling contract and a year’s worth of Curvy Kate Lingerie. The winner will also be flown to the UK to take part in the brand’s latest marketing campaign with fellow UK and Australian winners.

The competition strives to celebrate healthy curves, a positive body image and diversity. Curvy Kate Marketing Manager, Hannah Houston, stated, “We truly believe that our customers should model our lingerie as these are the girls who will be buying it. Our model search isn’t just a one off – it’s here to stay to prove how gorgeous the shapely figure looks in lingerie – wobbles, bumps and all. If you can wear Curvy Kate lingerie – you’re in.”  Showing how Curvy Kate’s lingerie looks on a fuller bust and shapely frame gives a true representation of how the product fits and supports a larger bustline.

Curvy Kate D – K cup lingerie is designed for fun, flirty girls with a fuller breast and desire for fashion. Utilizing gorgeous, fashion-conscious designs and clever engineering, the brand offers variety and flattering, colorful styles normally only seen in smaller cup sizes. Bras retail from $65 to $75 USD.

Buyers can preview Curvy Kate’s next collection at the CurveNY lingerie trade show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center through Thursday, February 23rd.  Booth # 416.

Resources:

www.CurvyKate.com

Follow @CurvyKateUSA

www.facebook.com/CurvyKateUSA

You’re Invited: Bra La Mode Hosts ‘Brand Affair’ with The Lingerie Designer Showcase

20 Feb

Combining the best elements of a marketing seminar, a lingerie fashion show and a networking event, New York City’s newest Lingerie Trade Show, the Lingerie Designer Showcase presents a Brand Affair Event in collaboration with my company Bra La Mode on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at The Producers Club (358 West 44th Street).

The Brand Affair is a panel discussion on the importance of Marketing and PR for lingerie brands and businesses and is moderated by Margaret Shrum, the Lingerie Goddess, and includes as panelists, Lauren Rich, founder + director of RICHPR, a Fashion PR agency specializing in intimate apparel; Treacle, the Founder of The Lingerie Addict and digital media consultant for the lingerie industry, and Dan Sackrowitz, VP of Marketing and New Business Development at BareNecessities.com.  Attendees will learn about overcoming the challenges inherent in both digital and traditional marketing and gain insight into building their brands and boutiques.

The panel discussion will be concluded with a “Lingerie Exhibition” fashion show featuring the latest designs of the independent designers showcasing their collections at the Lingerie Designer Showcase – Andrea Billard, Ann Vogue, Clare Bare Lingerie, Dottie’s Delights, Fred and Ginger, Good Night Gilda, Ombrato Sleepwear, Priscilla Jade Lingerie and Toad Lillie.

All industry professionals are welcome to attend an “Intimate Affair” Networking Social immediately following the panel discussion and lingerie exhibition at The Lounge at The Producer’s Club.  The Brand Affair is co-hosted and sponsored by Bra La Mode and The Lingerie Journal. 

Brand Affair sponsors include Love Me Sugar Sleepmasks, Eucalan Lingerie Wash, Fits.me, PromoStyl, Lingerie Briefs, BareNecessities.com, The Lingerie Addict, RichPR, Affinitas Intimates, Gozooko, Directory-Sexy.com and The Full Figured Chest

Luis Paredes, publisher of The Lingerie Journal and founder of the Lingerie Designer Showcase, and I share a passion for uniting independent lingerie designers, brands and businesses and larger scale intimate apparel companies, organizations and professionals.  Our mission is to connect lingerie professionals from all aspects of the industry to collaborate, educate, inspire, empower, and to share resources to ultimately elevate the intimate apparel industry as a whole.

 Resources:

www.TheLingerieJournal.com

@LingerieJournal

www.LingerieDesignerShowcase.com

@TLJ_Showcase

#BrandAffair

#IntimateAffair

Intimate Insight: Dear John, For Valentine’s Day, You’ve Got The Pink Slip

3 Feb

The Superbowl is this Sunday.  And the only thing I know is that the NY Giants are in it, and Madonna is performing at halftime.  That’s where it ends.  For those of us living a life of lingerie, we’ve got our focus on Valentine’s Day this time of year (our own sort of Superbowl.)  For intimate apparel brands and retailers, a lot of energy is spent trying to capitalize on this annual celebration of love.  There’s no perfect formula to having a successful selling season, and retailers (as well as e-tailers) have tried every possible sales tactic in the book- markdowns, in-store events, sample sales, pop-up shops, gifts with purchase, 2-for-1, gift cards, etc.  What worked for one season or one holiday, may not work for another.  It’s a lot of trial and error, especially in a volatile marketplace.

The Pink Slip NYC

I have a passion for discovering innovative merchandising methods.  So, when I spoke to Margo Andros, owner of The Pink Slip in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, I was impressed by her creative approach to this year’s Valentine’s Day promotion.  First of all, a retailer must consider their clientele.  And from what I can tell, Margo has her customer all figured out!  Her store’s location is unique…. It is in one of the busiest commuter hubs in the world- the famed Grand Central Station!   What does this mean for her fun little lingerie store?  Margo shared a few secrets with me….  Her “bread and butter” is hosiery.  Huh.  Think about that….  High-powered execs hop off the Metro North from Westchester with a snag in their hose…. And The Pink Slip is there to provide a solution.  Of course she can buy a pair of L’Eggs Control Top Pantyhose at the local Duane Reade.  But, it’s just as convenient to pop into The Pink Slip for a pair of luxury Philippe Matignon stockings instead!  Problem solved.  Margo also explained that she needs to change her window displays more often than other local lingerie retailers.  Again, who woulda thought!!??  But it makes perfect sense….  Her target customers walk past her store day in and day out on their way to and from work.  Margo and her team understand the importance of keeping the store’s window display and product assortment updated and fresh-looking.  As a result, The Pink Slip has built a loyal following of men and women looking for intimate apparel, hosiery and other accessories for themselves or as gifts.

So…. to capitalize on the upcoming Valentine’s Day selling season, Margo decided to target the men who frequent her store.  She recognizes the fact that men appreciate convenience and ease of purchase (especially when it comes to buying underthings for their loved ones!)  Men can become so darn squeamish!  Here’s the deal:

Three Ready-To-Give “Packages” to take the guess work out for the fellas including optional delivery or messenger service…  It’s that simple!  And Margo has her team ready to assist The Pink Slip clientele with selection and a reminder to sign a complimentary Pink Slip notecard.  The Gift Packages arrive fully wrapped with the personalized notecard tucked inside. 

Margo knows her customer…  And as a result, I suspect she’ll have a very rewarding Valentine’s Day herself!

Package 1 – $100 “The Sweetest Thing”

3 pairs of Hanky Panky Panties (red, black, and pink or combo of colors) – $60 value

A surprise pleasure item, 2 options to select from: 

Massage candle – $36 value OR Chocolate Fondue AND Booty Parlor Body Topping – $37 value

4 Nipple Nibblers (various flavors) – $4 value

Package 2 – $150 “You are my Sunshine”

Levante Thigh Highs/or substitute (black, any style) – $18 value

Mimi Rhinestone Pasties (any style) – $15 value

$125 PINK SLIP Gift Card

Package 3 – $200 “Melt with You”

$150 lingerie items of choice

Mimi Rhinestone Pasties (any style) – $15 value

3 Nipple Nibblers (various flavors) – $3 value

$30 PINK SLIP Gift Card

The Pink Slip- Lexington Passage in Grand Central Terminal, NYC

www.ThePinkSlip.com

Follow @ThePinkSlipNYC

Intimate Affair: Intimate Apparel Council Hosts Retail Expert Marshal Cohen

3 Nov

The Intimate Apparel Council (a division of the American Apparel and Footwear Association) presented “New Retail Rules” with speaker Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of the NPD Group, on Monday, October 31, 2011 at New York City’s private Union League Club.  Marshal was invited to speak to members of the Intimate Apparel Council regarding issues directly affecting our industry as well as nationwide retail trends, the economy, and other factors influencing “Consumerology” (the science of the consumer).  Marshal’s Intimate Insights proved to be extremely useful in helping the intimate apparel professionals in attendance to better understand the mindset of today’s consumer, the significance of brand power, and the importance of innovation.

Marshal Cohen

Marshal Cohen is an economist, but he thinks of himself as a retailer first and foremost.  He is a nationally-known expert on consumer behavior and the retail industry.  Marshal has followed retail trends for more than 30 years, at NPD, as the head of leading fashion and apparel companies, as well as at major retailers.  As part of his work at NPD, Marshal leads many top firms in long-range and strategic planning sessions.  Marshal recently published his second book, Buy Me! How to Get Customers to Choose Your Products and Ignore the Rest.  I am pleased to share his expertise with you as it is invaluable to professionals working in either retail or wholesale environments.

Marshal confirmed that there are indeed challenges in our industry, but the key for us is to think of these challenges as opportunities.  But how can we do that?  First, we need to identify the mindset of the consumer and to look at their buying habits.  Marshal says that today, everything starts with the consumer.  They are the epicenter.  In essence, they drive retail.  They dictate what we create and how we market it.  If we want to be successful in selling our product or services, “we need to adapt to the consumer rather than demand that they adapt to us,” Marshal said.

We have entered a new “era of consumption.”  Before the recession, we were in an era of “conspicuous consumption.”  There were no limits to the amount of money being spent.  If a consumer wanted it, he bought it!  The mindset of the consumer was different than it is now.  Now, the mindset is “calculated consumption.”  Today, the consumer asks himself, “Do I need it?  Do I want it?  Can I buy it elsewhere for less?”  At the beginning of the recession, the consumer was in a state of “frugal pride” (he simply stopped spending.)  Now, he’s in a place of “frugal fatigue” (he’s tired of living on such a tight budget… he’s loosening his belt a bit….).  So he’s back to spending money, but he is operating from the mindset of “calculated consumption.”  As a manufacturer or supplier of goods and/or services, we need to ask ourselves- does my product match up with this mindset?  Does my product or service deliver on its promise?  We now need to justify our product… We can’t just hang it on a rack and trust that it will sell. 

How do consumers describe “value” today?  Two years ago, the answer would have been “lowest price.”  Today, it is “Brand Names for Less,” and secondly, “More Product for Less”.  Branding is important.  Specialty retail is growing.  And, the number one growth area is in factory outlets!  This is where the consumer can still purchase the brand names he wants, but at a lower retail price.  To the consumer, this translates into perceived value.  What does this mean for us?  As a manufacturer, we need to help the consumer to understand why our product is worth their money.  We need to earn their purchase today.  This requires more work on our part.  And we need to look at how this fits into our business model.

There are numerous factors that influence buying habits.  Believe it or not, the weather can play a role in spending.  This past year is what meteorologists refer to as a “dramatic weather period.”  These periods historically happen every 8-10 years and they last for 9-14 months.  We are in the eighth month of the current dramatic weather period.  Just this past weekend, we saw snow before Halloween in parts of the country; other areas suffered record rains this year while others suffered from drought and record high heat, etc.  How does this affect the way we spend?  Marshal provided a concrete example which made a lot of sense.  Typically in mid August, consumers are budgeting for Back to School purchases.  But this year, the consumer’s buying habits were influenced by the fear of Hurricane Irene.  Right in the middle of the prime Back to School buying season, money was spent on bottled water, flashlights, light bulbs, sandbags, generators, etc.  And many consumers were forced to shell out money to repair their homes after the hurricane (flood damage, etc.)  Thus, there was less money to spend on typical Back to School items like apparel and accessories, consumer goods, etc.  The government can also impact spending.  As the U.S. government was debating whether to raise the debt ceiling, consumers simply stopped shopping.  Once an agreement was reached, the consumer reverted back to buying.  Also, we’re coming into a major election year.  Historically, whenever we are in a major election year, the consumer takes a step back.  And without a solid jobs program, we will likely not see economic recovery any time soon.  What happened to jobs?  Many have been outsourced overseas and many jobs have been replaced by technology (instead of bank tellers, we use ATM’s or bank online.)  We are in the deepest and potentially longest recession since World War II. 

These are the harsh realities of our current condition.  So, what’s the answer?  Marshal says “Innovation!”  How do we create innovation?  First, we need to think about technology.  Electronics are seeing the highest level of growth.  The consumer is much more passionate about electronics than fashion because of its innovation.  We need to make sure our product or service is wanted and needed!  And, it needs to be practical for us to execute it from a costing standpoint.  We can all see how Apple revolutionized retail by implementing the principle of “create a want and a need.” 

Reebok's ZigTech

And just this past year, Reebok doubled their business by utilizing technology.  Their unique ZigTech sole created a want and a need.  They put innovation ahead of branding.  Marshal said, “A product becomes worthy of purchase because of what it does, not because of the brand.”  So, the challenge for us is to create innovative products!  Marshal says, “Basics maintain volume, innovation drives growth.”

We are in an era of “calculated consumption,” but are entering a “brand renaissance.”  The consumer is looking for brand equity with value.  Marshal referenced Target’s Missoni launch this past September.  It was a huge success from a retail standpoint.  It satisfied the consumer’s demand for a brand name at a great value.  It created the want and the need.  The consumer was willing to spend because of its perceived value as he is now operating from a place of “frugal fatigue.” 

In the intimate apparel world, bra and panties sales are generally flat to last year.  Why?   Because there was no innovation.  Marshal also talked about understanding the need cycle.  How often does a woman buy a new bra?  What about new underwear?  Shapewear sales were down -18% to last year.  This is likely a result of the need cycle.  To me, this means that I can increase the rate of the need cycle (and ultimately boost my sales) if I create an innovative product that gives my consumer that “want and need.”  And Marshal stated that we can build brand loyalty if we can better understand the need cycle.

Another important component in “Consumerology” is to understand the influence of technology.  How are we marketing to today’s consumer?  Today’s consumer is multi-tasking…  She is on her cell phone, while emailing, and surfing the internet, all while updating her Facebook status.  Cellphones and the iPad (and other tablets) make this possible.  And, social media is breaking all of the traditional rules of marketing and advertising.  How do we balance all of this?  We need to adapt to all forms of media.  I recently learned the new phrase SoLoMo: Social, Location, Mobile.  Personally, I don’t think we can underestimate the power of these methods of marketing.  I shared my Intimate Insights on The Lingerie Journal earlier this week regarding the importance of social media in the intimate apparel industry.  You can read the Article here.

Marshal concluded the session by talking about balance.  As a manufacturer or supplier of a product or service, we need to find a way to balance the risk versus the reward, selling direct to consumer versus wholesale, manufacturing brands versus private label product, and providing basic product versus developing innovative goods.  And based on the insight he provided, he encouraged us to take the leap.  This is the time to embrace change!

About The Intimate Apparel Council

The Intimate Apparel Council (IAC) is one of the most prestigious organizations in the industry and is comprised of leading designers, brands, retailers and suppliers of intimate apparel products. The mission of the IAC is to stimulate the growth of the intimate apparel business by creating a network and a forum to actively identify, address and act on matters of interest to the industry.  The IAC cooperates with consultants and others in gathering information of special concern to intimate apparel design houses and engages in public relations programs for the benefit of the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturer and design house.

The IAC is a division of The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).  AAFA is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers which compete in the global market. AAFA’s mission is to promote and enhance its members’ competitiveness, productivity and profitability in the global market by minimizing regulatory, legal, commercial, political and trade restraints.

Resources:

Marshal Cohen & the NPD Group

www.npd.com/marshalcohen

Follow @MarshalCohen

The Intimate Apparel Council

www.IntimateApparelCouncil.org

The American Apparel & Footwear Association

www.ApparelandFootwear.org

Follow @ApparelFootwear

Intimate Insight: RichPR ~ Media Preview of Holiday ’11 and Spring/Summer ’12 Lingerie Collections

21 Oct

PR Star Lauren Rich of RichPR graciously invited me to preview the upcoming collections for the Intimate Apparel brands she represents.  What an honor and how lucky am I to get the inside scoop before the collections hit the floor!??!  Being an Intimate Insider has its perks. 

Lauren Rich of RichPR

Lauren and her team worked tirelessly to prepare their penthouse suite at the AKA Times Square Hotel to welcome media and pr professionals to the invite-only preview which was named “Get Intimate with Intimates at Star Crossed Lovers.”  They converted the suite into a fantasyland of lingerie featuring brands: Lola Haze, the playful and flirty “fusion” collection of dresses, tops, lingerie and loungewear which can be worn as outerwear designed by Laura Mehlinger; Brulee Lingerie, the sophisticated, luxe line by designer Kristian Giambi; the ever dependable solutions based foundations and shapewear from heritage brand Va Bien; my new favorite wardrobe solutions brand Second Base; and the affordable, contemporary brands Affinitas Intimates and her full-busted sister, Parfait by Affinitas.  And don’t forget the Berry Ball!  What’s a Berry Ball you ask?  Great question…. The Berry Ball and Bag is the complete laundry solutions set specifically designed to care for your intimate apparel (including molded foam, underwire bras).  Now, any Intimate Insider knows you shouldn’t put your bras in the washing machine.  But truth be told, I’ve been known to do it from time to time (probably more often than I should).  But now, I can use my Berry Ball to ensure that my unmentionables won’t become mangled, tangled, twisted, and deformed!

While I would love to share every detail of the collections I perused at the preview, I’d be here all day….  Plus, it’s a lot more fun to give you a sneak peek and leave you in anticipation.  I saw soooo many fabulous, new, fun styles, colors, prints, fabrics and laces.  Luckily, you won’t have to wait too long as most of these collections will be in stores within the next few months.  Until then, I will tease you with a few highlights of these brands which are as unique and as individual as you can only imagine.

Laura Mehlinger from Lola Haze

Lola Haze never disappoints…. Staying true to her playful and flirty brand identity, Laura Mehlinger’s Spring/Summer ’12 collection is very fresh; inspired by the decadence of the roaring ‘20’s.  The first style which caught my attention was the Bee’s Knees Romper which is made with pale stripe cotton poplin with a rigid, all-over lace inset at neckline.  Although the romper body style isn’t new to Lola Haze, the cotton poplin fabrication is making its debut.  And, the most exquisite piece I saw was the Lola Haze Deco Slip, which is reminiscent of the avant-garde art movement, Cubism.  It is delicate; created using silk and chiffon in muted colors in abstract, color-blocking, accented with a bold, wide black stripe inset.  All of the Lola Haze garments are handmade right here in NYC’s garment district and many styles are one-of-a-kind and are available in only one colorway…. If you see something you like, you better grab it before it’s gone!

Lola Haze Deco Slip

Kristian Giambi’s Brulee Lingerie is the epitome of luxe sophistication.  I am a long-time fan of Brulee and it just keeps getting better.  For the first time, Kristian is introducing a print to the line.  For Spring/ Summer ’12, Kristian has developed an exclusive animal print which maintains the sophisticated presence of the brand.  It is a tonal, muted animal print available in Silver and Lilac colorways in a Chemise, Bralette, and Boyshort.

Brulee Lingerie Noir Satin & Lace Bralette and Boyshort in Fuchsia and Black

And, lace makes its first appearance for Brulee in the Noir collection.  Kristian developed Brulee Lingerie as an alternative to the oh-so-frilly lingerie that was so prevalent in the market.  So, I was surprised that she decided to introduce lace.  But, I’m certainly glad she took that risk as the new Noir corset-inspired Lace over Satin Soft Bra and Boyshort are truly beautiful and still maintain her brand identity.  These pieces are provocative and sultry yet elegant and feminine.  And, you’ve got to get a look at the new Ava Teddie which has been designed with only a center back and center front seam.  The style was designed to fit just right.  It is silk with chiffon trim…  Very sleek.  I suggest you adhere to Brulee’s direction—“Go ahead….Indulge!”

Va Bien's "Droop Proof" Ultra-Lift Perfect Strapless Bra

The heritage brand Va Bien has one mission—to put women in control.  They have succeeded in accomplishing this goal for over three decades.  Combining practical solutions with a French aesthetic, the brand was born out of a necessity.  Every Va Bien bra and shapewear style is developed with a purpose in mind.  Although this style is not new to Va Bien’s range, it was quite a discovery for me—the patented Va Bien Ultra-Lift Strapless Bra is a dream come true for a full-busted gal like me.  I don’t know how I haven’t come across this style before…. Nonetheless, I’m glad that I did!  I have always struggled to find the perfect Strapless Bra.  Although I don’t require Strapless Bras on a regular basis, when I do… it’s a real battle to find one that functions properly.  The styles that are available in the market typically slip down, smash me down, or create the dreaded uni-boob.  I am very pleased with the fit of the garment as well as the functionality.  Although the apex points seem a bit too far “east-west” for me, I tell ya… This sucker isn’t falling down and it provides great lift!  The patented “droop-proof” design is a result of the cup construction.  The cups have been developed with three “magic fingers” encased between two layers of foam creating the Ultra-Lift effect.  This style is available in full-figure and full-busted sizes.  What a great find.  And, I’d like to note that all of Va Bien’s styles are very well-priced. 

Second Base Brittany Demi Camisole in Hot Pink

Speaking of being full-busted, I have always struggled with “cleavage control.”  It seems that no matter what I wear, boobs are busting out all over….  Enter the wardrobe solution—Second Base!  Second Base is a collection of demi camisoles which are available in virtually every color imaginable (to match every conceivable outfit).  In the past, I “contained” myself using tank tops, camisoles, wifebeaters, seamless bandeau bras… I could go on.  I never walk out of the house without an extra layer of protection.  The Second Base demi camisoles satisfy my need for a little more coverage.  And, I can’t wait to try the new Pippa demi cami with velvet piping at the neckline.  It sure beats a tank top or tee.  Second Base is introducing full-length camisoles for Spring/ Summer ’12 in Midi and Maxi lengths.  And the fabric… to die for!  Second Base wardrobe solutions styles are fabricated using an eco-friendly micro modal.  The handfeel and drape of the fabric is incomparable.

Although the brands are only about four years old, Affinitas Intimates, and her sister, full-busted brand Parfait by Affinitas, have created quite a stir.  As a full-busted consumer, I was initially introduced to Parfait while shopping for bras at Linda’s here in NYC.  From there, I discovered the original brand, Affinitas.  I have to say, I have been very impressed with the young contemporary styling (which appeals to both the young and young at heart), as well as the construction and quality, for the price-point.  Affinitas and Parfait by Affinitas offer a luxury-looking product at a great price!  Since I am hard to fit, I judge most intimate apparel on its fit and its ability to withstand the test of time.  Oftentimes, I jump to the conclusion that inexpensive translates into poor quality or improper fit.  These two brands have proved me wrong.  It is affordable luxury… I would definitely recommend these brands to the budget-conscious consumer.  Both brands carry basic everyday essential styles as well as specialty pieces.  And how exciting that I can now find full-busted bras under the $60 mark!  For years, I have been forced to shell out $60-$120 a bra for British or French brands in order to find bras that fit me properly.  Although I am still loyal to many of these brands which have “supported” me over the years, I am so excited that we now have an affordable, full-busted brand right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  This past season, I fell in love with Parfait’s Bess collection.  Bess is a printed stretch satin collection with pin-tuck details and satin-covered buttons.  The floral print is delicate and feminine, yet sophisticated. 

Parfait by Affinitas Bess Balconette Bra and Hipster in Cream/Coffee

For the coming season, both brands are ultra feminine and sweet.  Main fabrics include satin and microfiber in solids and prints.  The trim details include light floral embroidery, eyelet trim, delicate narrow laces, beaded lace trims, European-look galloon laces with cording, tassels, crystal drop detail, and twin-straps pinned with satin ribbon bows.  Colors are both light/pastel and bright, while prints are fun yet romantic and coquettish (including gingham, pinstripes, and florals.) 

I really like Parfait’s Isabella collection which features a softened bright pink floral print with contrast color beaded ribbon lace trim and satin ribbon bows with charm.  And for a more luxurious look, I highly recommend the glamorous, retro-inspired Alexis collection offered in solid ivory.  The high-waisted full brief is on my list of “must-haves” for Spring/ Summer ’12.  The Affinitas and Parfait by Affinitas brands are available in specialty stores/boutiques around the country as well as on ecommerce sites.  And, the company is targeting international markets to expand their business and to offer their brands to women around the globe.

Parfait by Affinitas Alexis Padded Bra and High-Waisted Brief in Ivory

Each brand represented by Lauren Rich is unique in terms of its brand identity and sensibility.  Her portfolio of brands is very well rounded.  You would be hard-pressed to find something you didn’t like…  And, if you’re anything like me….  You’d be hard-pressed to find anything you didn’t like!  All of the brands and products appeal to me, depending on my mood, spirit, or need on any given day…. From flirty and fun, to sleek and sophisticated, to practical and smart, to sexy and sassy!  Keep your eye on each of these brands as they are quickly emerging in their target markets as front-runners.  The Spring/ Summer ’12 collections are expected to be in store by February 2012.

Resources

Rich-PR: Lauren Rich

Follow @RichPRStar

www.Rich-PR.com

Lola Haze

Follow @LolaHazeNYC

www.LolaHaze.com

Brulee Lingerie

Follow @BruleeLingerie

www.Brulee.net

Va Bien

Follow @VaBienLingerie

www.VaBienLingerie.com

Second Base

Follow @ShopSecondBase

www.ShopSecondBase.com

Affinitas Intimates and Parfait by Affinitas

Follow @AffinitasIntima

www.AffinitasIntimates.com

Designer Profile: Kriss Soonik Loungerie

5 Oct

I was fortunate enough to connect with Designer Kriss Soonik while she was in New York City for Fashion Week early last month.  The Estonia-born designer hails from London but her designs are influenced by her home country and she produces all of her goods in Estonia using fabrics, laces, and other raw materials she sources from around the World.  While sipping tea at a midtown café, Kriss and I chatted about her background, how she got started, her passions, her current collection, the future for her namesake brand, and she graciously shared her advice for other independent designers looking to break into the business.

Designer Kriss Soonik

Kriss has been designing for over ten years.  However, it is only in recent years that she has considered it her life’s work.  Initially, it was a hobby for her.  She graduated from college in Estonia with a BA degree in Business.  And she moved to London just a little over six years ago where she studied Strategic Fashion Marketing at London College of Fashion.  Designing came naturally to her, but she was also passionate about the branding and marketing of apparel.  After finishing school, she went to work for the famed UK Lingerie company, Agent Provocateur.  At Agent Provocateur, Kriss was responsible for retail marketing and pr including the planning of in-store events worldwide.  Branding, marketing, and pr are passions of mine….  So, I was excited to learn how she plans to utilize her expertise and the knowledge she gained working at AP to make her own brand a success.

In the Fall of 2008 (as the recession first hit), Kriss started posting some of her designs on the well-known UK “chic lingerie boutique” site Glamorous Amorous.   The site features emerging lingerie designers, and Kriss felt this would be a great way to receive feedback on her designs before taking the plunge to venture out on her own.  By January of 2009, she had quit her job at Agent Provocateur, and her brand was officially born.  The first Kriss Soonik collection launched in Spring/ Summer 2010.   

Kriss’ friends and family thought she was crazy to leave a stable job to start her own business just months after the recession hit.  But Kriss felt the timing was perfect!  Production facilities were looking to fill their lines and retailers were looking for something fresh and new.  Very few people were taking risks at this time because of their fear of the economic downturn.  Kriss turned this into an advantage for her and capitalized on it.

When Kriss was initially developing the concept for her brand, most of the pieces she was developing were “experimental” showcase pieces.  But once she ventured out on her own, she discovered a more practical sense.  She had to think about how to wear them and how to make them; how to appeal to her target consumer without losing her brand identity.  She has found that her best sellers are the more practical pieces, her Jersey Knit items in particular.  Growing up in the colder climate of Estonia, she wanted to meld comfortable pieces with a more sexy, modern aesthetic. 

Kriss Soonik Kristel Jersey Suspender Top

Kriss says that her brand evolves as she evolves.  She defines her brand identity as an effort to connect comfort and seduction.  What exactly is “Kriss Soonik?”  Loungerie!  It happened by accident…  It was a typo, actually.  And as soon as she saw it on the screen, she knew this was it!  Loungerie is luxe loungewear.  Like lingerie is to underwear; loungerie is to loungewear….  Luxe Loungewear!  Kriss is working to give a unique look to loungewear and has adopted the “innerwear as outerwear” concept.  Her styles are multi-functional.  Her target consumer is the woman that is looking for something different, new, and fresh.  Although it is sold at a high-end price point, she feels her consumer is willing to spend the extra money for something unique that can be worn in multiple ways.  My experience in the wholesale intimate apparel industry proves the same notion.  When the economy first turned, consumers scaled back their spending and reverted to “generic” brands.  But now that we’re several years into the recession, consumers are back to spending.  But there is much more emphasis on “value.”  Consumers are willing to spend the money if they are getting something “extra” for their spend…. 

Kriss Soonik Diana Wings Wrap

Kriss’ current Fall/ Winter Collection really shows what it means for “innerwear to be outerwear.”  Kriss is excited to see how her consumer interprets her styles.  When Kriss and I met for tea back in early September, she was wearing a leather sheath dress AND her own Diana Wings Wrap (proving that her Loungerie can be worn as outerwear).

Kriss Soonik Loungerie is currently sold in boutiques and specialty stores (including ecommerce).  She has considered breaking into the department store tier but is concerned it may get lost there.  Her focus is on expanding her own ecommerce site which sells direct to consumer.  She says that her website is proving to be an important tool in defining (and maintaining) her brand image.  On her own site, she can show her consumer the various ways of wearing her styles.  Her website and other media (including social media) will be powerful communication tools in expanding her brand.

This trip to New York City was Kriss’ first venture into the US.  She really didn’t know what to expect.  She said, “New York is the Fashion Capital of the World!”  She couldn’t believe Fashion’s Night Out.  The feedback and response she received during her Trunk Show at Journelle on Mercer Street in SoHo on September 8th was tremendous.  She said her Susan Lace Bodysuits practically sell themselves.  They are multi-functional; they can be worn as innerwear or as outerwear (layering pieces).  They can be worn with the opening in the front or the back.  In fact, Kriss wore her Susan Lace Bodysuit in Orange (with black trim) over a graphic tee shirt with a pair of pants on Fashion’s Night Out.  Her Jersey Suspender Tops are top sellers as well.  The biggest surprise was the popularity of her Triangle Bras in both Lace and Mesh. 

Kriss Soonik Susan Motion Lace Bodysuit

Kriss already has brand loyalty to her “Classic Collection.”  She plans to continue this Collection into the next Season and will be introducing White as a new colorway in January 2012.  Early on, she made a lot of changes as the brand evolved.  But she quickly learned that once you discover what your consumer wants, you have to give them what they want!  She is still trying to determine the most efficient way of evolving season by season.  She wants to continue introducing new styles each season…  But she is still learning how to execute it- How many new pieces?  How many new colors?  When do we introduce them?  As time goes by, the assortment will likely get tighter and tighter and her brand identity will become more clearly defined.

What’s next for Kriss Soonik Loungerie?  Kriss let me in on a little secret….  But I can’t reveal all of the details yet!  But if you plan on being in London on November 10th– mark your Calendar and don’t make any other plans!  Kriss is preparing an exclusive “invite only” event for the evening of the 10th.  Remember, she was once responsible for planning in-store events for Agent Provocateur retail stores worldwide….  So, I’m sure her own event will prove to be exciting and unexpected!  You won’t want to miss it!  Kriss loves the excitement of these promotional events.

I asked Kriss if she had any advice for other emerging designers looking to venture out on their own.  She said “Be prepared!  Everything takes much longer than you think.  Be patient.”  And, “Initially, you’re on your own.  Trust your instincts.  Ask for help.  People are happy to help if you ask for it.  I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by great people.  But at the end of the day, it’s up to you!  The high’s are higher and the low’s are lower.  Ohhhh….But it’s sooo worth it!”

Kriss Soonik Susan Chic Lace Bodysuit

I can’t wrap up this story without letting you know the proper way to pronounce her last name….  One would think its pronounced “Sue-Nick.”  I was delighted to find out that it’s actually pronounced “Sonic.”  As in “Supersonic!”  Now, we’ll never make that mistake again, will we??  Kriss laughed as she told me that she has been inspired by superheroes throughout her career….  I have to say this was one of the most delightful conversations I’ve had in a long time as Kriss was smart and sweet, funny, charming, and willing to share so much about her journey…. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me, Kriss!  I wish you all the best in your career.  We’re all waiting to see what’s next for Kriss Soonik!  And I wholeheartedly support your efforts to expand your brand into the US market.

Resources:

www.kriss-soonik.com

Follow @KrissSoonik on Twitter

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kriss-Soonik-Loungerie/135838919680

About Kriss Soonik

Kriss Soonik [son-ik] launched her first collection in 2008 introducing her signature talent for giving the “underwear as outerwear” concept a fresh and modern twist. When the traditional approach has been about corsets as eveningwear, Kriss Soonik has started a new wave – wearing velour gowns to a chic Sunday brunch.

In 2009 the term “loungerie” was born. Loungerie is luxe loungewear at its freshest, blurring the boundaries with fashion. It’s not cute and sweet, it’s sexy and powerful. It is loungewear with an edge.

With stockists and fans worldwide the London based designer never fails to produce a collection that is fiercely contemporary yet nostalgic. Over the years she’s taken inspiration from Manga comics, superheroines and cult film figures to challenge the traditional attitudes associated with lingerie and loungewear. All of her designs are finished with the trademark cat or beautifully plump bow in patent leather, satin, silk or perhaps chiffon.

Born in Tallinn, Estonia, Kriss stands by having all of her designs handmade in her native country and produced from the finest materials she sources from across the globe. 

Producing two collections a year, Kriss designs with the understanding that all women can be superheroes. This is lingerie and loungewear that empower, inspire and break the rules.

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