Who remembers the Lovebomb? If you were reading back in January 12 or 13, you’ll have seen images shot for several independent lingerie brands. Why? Because we know that most independent brands spend plenty of time looking professional and larger than life, and we wanted to explain what the reality is.
Most brands you can buy in a mall, on major websites or in a supermarket are backed by large corporations, who often run several brands at the same time (one of my favourites is the Eveden group, Wacoal, Fantasie, Fauve, Freya, Elomi, Huit et al).
But many of the brands you see on The Lingerie Addict are independents, owned by a single person or sometimes a family. Now obviously these brands can still vary wildly – you can get independents you have busted out of being a start-up and are now turning over enough to be a small or even medium sized company (What Katie Did is a great example), but you can also get brands where one person does . . . everything, pretty much (Hi, Nearer The Moon!).
What are the pros and cons?
Well, independents are the place to look for innovative design and even custom made garments, plus they meet niche interests (you know, like stockings and suspenders being worn by feisty looking women). They also often spear head market moves into specialist areas or fringe sizes; full bust bras were an independent thing not so long ago and now in the UK we have high street stores dedicated to them.
Ask an indie brand what they like best though and the first thing is that we can have a closer relationship with our fans.
“The best part about being an independent brand is how close you can be with your customers! While some brands may struggle to receive constructive feedback on their designs, we can often show our future collections to our fans and receive ideas and tips of what they may prefer.” Anna, from Playful Promises.
“The best thing is getting direct feedback from our customers about our collections and being able to respond to it. Our customers play a big part in influencing the new collections.” Lorraine, from Miss Mandalay.
Plus, we all love lingerie which is why we can get just as giddy looking at next season as you can.
But there are some challenges. The biggest one for me is that there is no support structure; if you’re not working for a big company, then accountancy, book keeping, pr, the ridiculous amount of admin involved in payroll and taxes and even just the health and safety forms for trade shows (“what shall we put down this year as a perceived risk at the show? we put dying of boredom on the last day last year”) . . . that all comes down to you. Yes, life is full of boring jobs. I cannot tell you the amount of time I have spent putting leaflets in folders and hangers in boxes and stickers on products. Do not start your own brand if you want to be creative, unless you have someone willing to bankroll an awful lot of assistants!
And then of course if you hit on something wildly popular, be sure the corporations will hitch a ride sooner or later. Good luck to them I say – ok, so they don’t get the lows of doing 10 jobs at all without any financial security . . . but they don’t get the joys of taking something from inspiration to meeting people who love it to bits and wear it to death!
This year we wanted to trial doing something similar to the Lovebomb but about swimwear. But we’re in the UK, where it has rained for the last million years, so we carefully planned an illustrated shoot involving festival backdrops, wellies and umbrellas, and then, gloriously, the sun came out! So instead we present to you: Summer Of Love, a short collection of styles from 4 UK independent swimwear brands, illustrated by John Tyrell
Share one of our images (there’s a new one each day) or blog about it and put a link on social media, and let us know – firstname.lastname@example.org, or hashtag #summerloveswim so we can find you. We’ll collate all the entries on the 28th August, and pick 3 winners on August the 30th.
You have a chance to win one of 3 giftbaskets. Each giftbasket has a voucher, bikini or swimsuit from each brand, plus eyelashes from Sheeba Raye, as used in the shoot, luxury bath and beauty gifts from Mon Epris and a £75 voucher for vintage designer sunglasses store Lunetier.
Here’s the list of people taking part so you know who to watch out for: