Tag Archives: Innovation

Intimate Insiders, Intimate Affairs and Upcoming Events

14 Nov

As I think back on the past few weeks, I am inspired by mankind.  I have seen people from all walks of life coming together to support those who have literally lost everything as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  It brought people together who would not normally mix.  Barriers of race, creed, sexual orientation and socio-economic differences have been broken.  Here in Jersey City, we have witnessed great loss.  Many of my neighbors are still without power after two long, cold, dark weeks.  Life as we know it has been changed forever.  Insurance pay-outs and FEMA funds cannot restore one’s wellbeing.  Luckily, I was one of the first to have power restored here in Jersey City. I opened my doors to everyone & anyone that needed some warmth, a hot shower, a phone charge, or a hot meal.  But it was only a temporary “fix.” 

Sea Bright, NJ. Photo by Mark Vetrini

Most of my family is “down the shore” where entire towns have been literally wiped out.  My sister, Eileen Rafferty, hopped in her car and ventured into some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Jersey such as Belford and Keyport.  She knocked on doors to pitch in with clean-up efforts and to find out what they really need.  After a day on the “front line,” Eileen called me and said “We need undies!”  I jumped on the horn and within a matter of hours, I was able to collect cases of Clean/Unworn Underwear from manufacturers and designers around the Country.  Out of this need, the #SpareAPair Campaign has been born.  Organizations such as Bra Recyclers and Support1000 have been accepting donations of gently worn bras for years.  These organizations get the bras directly into the hands of the women in need (around the world.)  But what about skivvies?  My mom always told me, “Never leave the house without clean underwear!”  But after a disaster, that’s not so easy, is it?  Can You #SpareAPair of Underwear?  Contact me directly to find out how you can support the #SpareAPair Campaign.

Christian Siriano and Jene Luciani

The Intimate Apparel Square Club’s 57th Annual H.U.G. Awards Gala was held on Wednesday, November 7, 2012.  This year’s Intimate Affair (called “An Enchanted Evening”) honored LuAnn Via, former President and CEO of Payless ShoeSource, Inc. as well as Steven Chernoff, chairman of Rago Foundations, LLC.  Intimate apparel industry veteran Janet Peters was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to the Club.  The annual event raises funds to support NYU Langone Medical Center’s RUSK Institute and Tisch Hospital.  Despite the wintry weather, members and supporters of the Club gathered together at 230 Fifth Penthouse to celebrate the humanitarian achievements of our honorees and to support the “RUSK Kids.”  The event’s emcee was celebrity stylist and author of The Bra Book, Jené Luciani.  Luciani wore a gown designed by Project Runway star, designer Christian Siriano.  Siriano attended the event and presented his friend LuAnn Via with her H.U.G. Award.  Via was also dressed in Christian Siriano from head to toe.  Siriano arrived at the event with his guest, movie star Isabelle Fuhrman who also donned his designs!  The event raised thousands of dollars which will be donated directly to NYU Langone Medical Center’s RUSK Institute and Tisch Hospital.  The IASC is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization and none of its members are paid.

Dear Kate, the young fashion-meets-function lingerie line, is set to launch online this month followed by availability in specialty boutiques across the U.S.  The debut collection—an assortment ranging from elegant high-rises and cream bodysuits to pastel bikinis and basic hipsters—pays homage to what every woman loves about her favorite intimates.  While the designs alone catch the eye, it’s what’s underneath that has Dear Kate poised to make its mark with not only fashionistas, but also new and expecting mothers.  Julie Sygiel, founder and CEO of Dear Kate says, “The risk of an oops moment shouldn’t mean we have to give up what we feel good in.”  Below the beauty of every Dear Kate panty is a light-as-a-feather lining that protects women against stains and spills with the utmost discretion.  Delicate to the touch and known for their easy wear-and-wash quality, the panties have already garnered a cult following through an earlier line in 2011.  Originally named Sexy Period, the patent-pending high-tech underwear was geared towards women who wanted extra backup during their period without having to compromise on style.  But when Sexy Period saw preteens, new moms experiencing incontinence, and even athletes embrace their panties, they knew a rebranding was in order.  Known briefly as Underbrella before a trademark issue delayed a re-launch this summer, the team behind Dear Kate is pleased with the early praise they’ve already received.  “Kate is that best friend in a crisis, the one who rushes to your side with chocolate,” says Sygiel, on the line’s new name.  “The women who wear our panties appreciate not only the innovation behind it, but also the community we’ve become, and Dear Kate embraces that fully.”

This Wednesday, November 14th, luxury brand Fleur du Mal is celebrating its launch by hosting an Intimate Affair featuring Parisian DJ Inez Melia and renowned Mixologist Xavier Herit.  Fleur du Mal is a signature collection of ready-to-wear and lingerie by Jennifer Zuccarini.  The designs will be sold exclusively through a uniquely interactive e-commerce site- www.fleurdumal.com.

The Lingerie Alliance is proud to be participating in another fundraiser on November 18th at Teak Restaurant, in Red Bank, New Jersey.  The Intimate Affair, GO NAKED AND CHECK YOURSELF, is an evening dedicated to bringing awareness / prevention to detectible cancers where you can go naked and check yourself – skin, breast and testicular cancers.  The event is presented by Sugarush (a specialty bakery in Red Bank, NJ) and the award-winning lingerie boutique, Sweetest Sin.  The mission of Go Naked and Check Yourself is to take the stigma of embarrassment out of checking yourself, because early detection can prevent long term issues.  All proceeds from the event benefit charities such as The American Cancer Society.  And since the areas surrounding Red Bank, NJ were so badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, 25% of all proceeds will now benefit MOVE FOR HUNGER.  Contact me for tickets or to make a donation.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming Intimate Affairs:

December 4, 2012 – The Underfashion Club’s Holiday Party at The National Arts Club on Gramercy Park South.

December 13, 2012- The Intimate Apparel Square Club’s Holiday Party at the RUSK Institute followed by a Dinner at Trattoria Alba.

December 18, 2012- The Lingerie Alliance presents a Festive Affair Holiday Networking Social at Legends Loft Lounge, 6 West 33rd Street between 5th Ave & 6th Ave, 6:30-8:30pm.  Two hours open bar, giveaways & gift bags, an Ugly Sweater Contest and more.  $35/ per person.

Got Insight?  Having an Intimate Affair?  Let us know!  Everyone can be an Intimate Insider!

As seen on LingerieBriefs.com

Intimate Insight: Fashion-meets-Function Lingerie Line “Dear Kate” Launches

13 Nov

Dear Kate, the young fashion-meets-function lingerie line, is set to launch online this month followed by availability in specialty boutiques across the U.S.  The debut collection—an assortment ranging from elegant high-rises and cream bodysuits to pastel bikinis and basic hipsters—pays homage to what every woman loves about her favorite intimates. 

While the designs alone catch the eye, it’s what’s underneath that has Dear Kate poised to make its mark with not only fashionistas, but also new and expecting mothers.  Julie Sygiel, founder and CEO of Dear Kate says, “The risk of an oops moment shouldn’t mean we have to give up what we feel good in.”  Below the beauty of every Dear Kate panty is a light-as-a-feather lining that protects women against stains and spills with the utmost discretion. 

Delicate to the touch and known for their easy wear-and-wash quality, the panties have already garnered a cult following through an earlier line in 2011.  Originally named Sexy Period, the patent-pending high-tech underwear was geared towards women who wanted extra backup during their period without having to compromise on style.  But when Sexy Period saw preteens, new moms experiencing incontinence, and even athletes embrace their panties, they knew a rebranding was in order.  Known briefly as Underbrella before a trademark issue delayed a re-launch this summer, the team behind Dear Kate is pleased with the early praise they’ve already received. 

“Kate is that best friend in a crisis, the one who rushes to your side with chocolate,” says Sygiel, on the line’s new name.  “The women who wear our panties appreciate not only the innovation behind it, but also the community we’ve become, and Dear Kate embraces that fully.”

www.dearkates.com

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

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