Because we end up doing luxe events and on “luxury” sites, I keep getting asked about luxury lingerie, but honestly, we go because there aren’t many places for independent brands to go otherwise; I can’t really call us a luxury brand compared to the sort of diamond encrusted, painstakingly strappy and vintage lace styles out there. I’ve spent chunks of today writing about these things for people who have been waiting ages for me to get back work properly, as I spent most of March being sick as a dog and even ended up in hospital a few times, so I thought probably I should make sure some of it saw the light of day. Or the light of the internet, at least.
This was written for a student at Northumbria on a marketing degree. For future reference, I am not someone you should ask about marketing. Do you have any idea how tempting it was to answer the question about what my inspiration was with either sarcasm, “Bills, rent, direct debits”, or “Got to be honest with you, some days, it's the knowledge that no employer would have me!”?
This is why other more sensible brands have PR people.
>> What encouraged you to start your own lingerie label?
Honestly? I was involved with a stockings retailer and they’d been getting tons of requests for lingerie sets that were good for stockings (i.e. with 6 metal garter tabs). We got to the end of sampling, I had a whole plan for it sorted out, and then my business partner decided it wasn’t the right way for the business to progress.
Since the most difficult part, bar the finances, is developing your samples and sorting your manufacturing out, it seemed daft to waste all the work, so I went ahead on my own. This was particularly spurred on by the fact that around that time, I had become disabled due to chronic illnesses. Despite what the current government would have you believe employers are NOT gagging to employ people with disabilities. I went from being highly employable to being barely able to find a voluntary placement in about a year.
>> Where does the initial inspiration come from for your collections?
The 40′s and 50′s – the last era where stockings were regularly worn.
>> What kind of woman do you have in mind when designing your collection?
I cover an under-supplied niche market of people who like to look good AND eat. That might be sarcasm.
>> How much of a part does the internet play within your business?
It's a huge part, as most of our retailers at least have an online presence, and we retail online and use social media to help develop the brand. Additionally, because of said disabilities, my job would be
impossible without the internet.
>> Do you feel there is a growing demand for more luxurious pieces within the everyday woman’s lingerie wardrobe?
Honestly? I wouldn’t class us as a luxury brand, since our retail prices are around £15-40. We grow about 20% a year though, so clearly there’s a growing demand for us.
>> Do you find women are increasing looking for style over practicality when purchasing lingerie?
I think our customers want both – I would never produce something that wasn’t both stylish and practical, as no-one I know has the kind of lifestyle that means you can just float about in whisps of silk chiffon.
Though I have tried. It gets chilly fast.
>> What type of pieces are your best sellers?
Overall, it's the classic vargas dress, longline girdle, 6 strap suspenders and so on, but the limited edition lingerie sets also tend to climb off the shelves very fast, hence why we tend to redo them in different colours.
>> Is there an increasing interest in more over the top, elaborate pieces, designed more for special occasion wear?
Only if we make them wearable as outerwear too, in my experience – but I think that’s to do with our price range and customers. There are brands like Lascivious and Bordelle who do far more luxury, high end and directional pieces that meet that brief and are doing well, but I can’t imagine that we have much of a crossover in customers.
>> Do you find more women are purchasing premium lingerie as a treat to themselves?
I have no idea, we’re not a premium lingerie brand. We’re definitely a treat though – but relatively inexpensive, especially on a cost-per-wear basis!