April 2014« March 2014
Who doesn't love a freebie? I know I get suckered pretty much every time I walk through the doors of Hotel Chocolat because of this! But knickers aren't chocolate, so we can't offer everyone a tiny piece to get the tastebuds singing.
Mmmm, not at all chocolatey.
And thus, though we might love your look/photos/blog/putative shoot idea, if we gave away an item for free to every model, putative model, alternative model, pin-up model, ex soap-star, blogger, assistant picture editor of a small magazine, lighting directors friends dog-walker etc etc, that asked, I'd be out of stock and bankrupt in about 3 weeks. Maybe 6 at a push? Also, we are not a publishing house for free pictures of ladies in scanties, no matter how often you request a catalogue.
Mostly, we believe in rewarding awesome deadlies - loyal customers and/or mega fans - over people who have never tried us or mentioned us before. So the absolute dead cert way to get a freebie? Join the mailing list, and buy when we do free gift offers - instead of January and Summer sales, we do mystery free gifts, with the odd offer in between. we also often pop in things like free postcards and gift bags just for fun.
Oh, and if you are a regular? We're a small enough team that we will recognise your name, so you're likely to get a few more than are contractually committed to gifts.
When you own a large hamper full of Deadly scanties, probably some were grateful gifts!
So let's say you're not a customer. How can you get a freebie?
Work for us. You've heard about how the fashion industry uses and abuses interns, yes? Well, ours get vouchers or garments to take away (also, in a shocking departure from tradition, we frequently teach people things along the way). You might end up doing a coffee run or counting knickers or stuffing envelopes, but we can always afford to hand you more in stock than we could in cash. Plus you'd probably get a choice of products.
The sheer excitement of jobs on event days just cannot be denied! (silk gown by Lucille)
Request it for charity. Every year we send out dozens of products for charity raffles, auction, tombolas etc. There are limits (no, we won't send you 4 £180 corsets for a sweaty pub environment just because you promise to send 3 back), and we do check you have a registered charity number and aren't problematic, but mostly we're very cheerful about sending things out for this reason.
Request a short term loan of a sample sized garment. Like libraries, short term means 3 days, maybe 7-10 at a push if its far far away or a review. And yes we will take a credit card number, and we will charge you if it doesn't come back or comes back broken or stinking of cigarette smoke; welcome to the standard system for fashion mags. Obviously, not everything is always available.
Request a loan or a gift for an AWESOME shoot. But listen, what you, Maz and myself define as awesome is going to be different. You've got a boudoir or pin--up shoot you're super excited about? Great! Some of those photographers have a code so you can buy at a discount from us. But what I'm looking for is something groundbreaking, something that'll get a discussion going - my favourite shoot last year was for Diva mag. Or, I'm looking for soemthing that'll convert to sales, and that isn't predictable - our best sales ever were after we got a one line mention in the Guardian! (Just don't tell Vogue, OK?) For Maz, who is a pro on the serious press front, she's looking for publication, publication, publication, to build up our coverage portfolio, playing the long term fashion game.
Request a loan or a gift after you already featured us somewhere. That means we know you're genuine, and I prefer to have reviews and fans online that are genuine rather than paid for by freebies, you see? It's better for the customers if it's real. It's ok if you say such and such a garment doiesn't suit your body type, or you didn't like the stitch detail, or whatever. I'd trather that than see a dozen anodyne "I'm writing this because it was the only way I could afford to try this brand so now I have to say something positive" reviews. Plus, if you're lucky, we'll have seen your writing or picture convert to visitors to the site or, hopefully sales, though that's rare.
Come to an event. We're not snooty about our press events and there's usually public access for some or all of them. If you've made the effort to come out and play, chances are we'll have a pile of freebies in the corner.
Last but not least, just keep an eye out, as every year we run giveaways and competitions and some of them simply require you to wave your deadlies in the air like you just don't care, all over the internet, which is pretty easy, and then get lucky, which is much trickier.
Last years Summer of Love giveaway included several brands and some accessories
On which note, I must go and pick the winner of the Easter mailing list voucher out of the electronic random number generator hat!
Ever since I wrote about all the things that can go wrong between idea and a garment in your hands, "dinosaurs" has become the codeword for problem productions. Currently the day-corsets are in dinosaur territory. Here's the story so far!
Danielle developed the day corset pattern with me but because we had a very clear idea of what we wanted, we worked towards the design rather than working the design around the components and skills. That means rather than find some exciting fabric and things the factory can do, we found something we wanted to do and then attempted to find the right fabrics, components and skills to do it with.
This is often problematic!
So, the day corset has these components, and here are their problems:
Powernet: it uses a much heavier powernet than we normally use, but even to make 75 of them it's only a small quantity. The first batch of net wasn't heavy enough so we had to find someone who would sell us a small amount of black powernet at a wholesale-ish price. It took me a while to find anyone who wasn't asking me to buy 100 metres. Very heavy powernet also just isn't that common anymore. Still, we know now how to get it so in the future that should be OK.
Elastic trim and bra hook fastenings - same problem here, we don't need much, but we're solving that by the factory providing it as it's pretty standard.
Fusing: We can't get anyone to sell this to us in small amounts and then send it to countries in the East of Europe . . . happily the factory use it for other things, so we're getting it from them instead.
Zips: these have to be specially finished, as the right length is not one that is available as standard. this can take anything from 2-6 weeks depending on how busy the zip people are. Also, I have to take a trip to see the Man About The Zips, because apparently they don't believe in online B2B sales.
Black Taffeta centre. Like a muppet I didn't calculate correctly how much we'd need so we need to get some more.
Cotton coutil: all fine! We're keeping a huge roll in the factory as we use it for all the corsets.
Acres of black satin double faced ribbon: The factory says I didn't send enough, as I sent merely hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of metres . . . though I think this is because they think they have to put loops for suspenders on it, whereas we didn't put those into this design.
Flat steels and spiral steels: Currently I am fighting with the factory because I bought 18cm, and they think we need 20 cm. As steels are expensive and take at least 2 weeks to arrive, and I think the spec is for 18, it's causing some friction. The Day corset uses different construction to the none stretch corsets, and thinks like seam allowance and how much room the steels have to move are different and clearly it's causing issues. did I mention that also ordering them is mildly nighmarish as they are all fractionally different and rather than saying "20cm long, 7mm wide spiral steels" you need to know an abstract SKU and a German translation? And that the supplier won't tell us clearly what the minimum order quantities are? so it's more of a negotiation than an order.
End caps, eyelets: all fine, we buy them by the pack of 2000!
Labels: the labels for these need to be different than to normal corsets, plus they have to have variations for the silk panel ones. Oh, and I had to test the washing conditions by, you know, actually washing the samples, before we did the labels.
Also, in the middle of all of this faff, the factory moved. Yup, actually up and moved all their machinery and everything. So that took a while! Plus the person I used to talk to has moved on, and I can't speak their language, so we're having a few translation issues. If there's one thing that working across countrioes has taught me, it's that local sayings and proverbs generally take about 20 minutes to explain!
So the current state of play on corsets is; we made the demi corsets and the waspies, and the day corsets are next on the list followed by the emerald deVille and the Ivory tempest, but there's a delay while we wreangle with the factory about exactly how they will be made and whether we have everything ready or not . . . I will keep you posted . . .
So here's a thing; we're currently under pressure by retailers to just focus on continuity styles - the Vargas and Van Doren, basically, in black, forever and ever and ever.
Not going to happen.
There's good financial reasons - though standard black 6 straps and longlines are nice sellers for us, without the limited editions, their sales slack off, dwindle and eventually die. Our big sellers are when we get a serious hit on the limited editions. Plus the retailers might well put in orders regularly for them, but they'd be small orders for mixed styles, which means there's no or almost no margin (profit) in them. So, I'm sitting it out and waiting for a less risk averse market.
But possibly even more importantly, I'd just be so damn BORED. Time for a badly drawn graph!
As far as I can tell I'm not the only person whose graph runs this way, but maybe some of the other brands will chime in, you never know.
At the start I'm all whoooo I've had an idea!
And then we get the first sample back and honestly? That can often be a bust. Sometimes it just doesn't work, sometimes it works but it doesn't fit in our price range, sometime it works but is inexplicably not the right size, but mostly, it just won't have the level of care taken that the full production will. Last year, all our swimwear samples came with a peppermint green lining because that was what the factory had to hand, and it clashed horribly with the red, petrol blue, plum and vintage pink we'd used. Things that in production would be properly dyed? Yeah, they get done in a little tin cup and kinda . . . vaguely match . . .
The first sample for this was um, problematic. Nothing was quite the right colour.
The second sample is usually better, hurrah!
Then we drag it round trade shows for oh, about a year, and do pictures, and send it to magazines, while it gets tattier and tattier . . . . and people ask about black suspender belts, because there is literally no-one else in the world who makes those ;)
Then pre-prod. If we're making thing in China actually that's not that bad, just worrying. If it's on the other side of Europe then it's wildly variable - currently it's doing my head in, but that's a whole other blog post. In the UK, it can run into extremely random problems, possibly including dinosaurs. So usually around that time I seriously lose enthusiasm . . . but then it arrives! wheee! and it's lovely and we can send it out and everyones happy and occasionally it looks amazing even in its boxes! When we did the teal Delacroix I had to stop myself from rolling around in it. I have a teal problem. I try and keep it under control.
And then . . . boredom sets in. I'm off chasing the new shiny things. Been there, done that, so over it, not feeling it anymore. If there's anything left of a new style after 6 months or longer? I am so bored I will start doing giveaways because I just don't want to see it anymore!
Happily, that does often mean now that we get a bunch of messages and pictures from people whose excitement level is up there at the height of shiny newness, and though I haven't put that on the badly drawn graph, I do love those. At the moment, I'm feeling more love for last years swimwear than I have for ages, because we just sent out some of it as free gifts and when you're happy? I'm happy :)
I'm also happy when you have really cool hair and say it's the first time you went in a pool in years :)
If you're interested in fashion, creativity and boredom, then I enjoyed this talk by Isaac Mizrahi.
We don't do chocolate for Easter, we do pants! This year we've got the egg hunt AND some extras goodies in stock from the brand our factory makes for themselves, which means lace powernet, ouvert pantygirdles and more suspender straps than anyone can possibly need.
Regular readers know the drill:
There are several offers, which include discounts on specific products and a site-wide discount, plus a chance to win £250. They are scattered randomly across the site, mostly hidden in product descriptions, but it’s worth looking back at the about pages as well.
There's a miling list offer - if you’ve already subscribed, either use another of your email addresses, or negotiate with a friend for an extra chance to win. Good luck! And have a great break!
P.s. – we had to shrink them for the site, look for a tiddly version.