Intimate Innovations

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Chantelle’s Hybrid Minimizer is Magnifique

October 14, 2012

By Ali Cudby

A lot of women want minimizer bras to “make their breasts smaller” as if there was some miracle of physics to actually shrink breast tissue.  What minimizers can do is make breasts appear smaller by creating a cup with a lower apex.

The challenge with minimizers, from a fit perspective, is that in order to achieve the lower breast profile these bras promise, the cups redistribute the breast volume into a lower – but wider – package.  The end result is that minimizers tend to make women look somewhat thicker.  Not exactly the outcome women are looking for – has any customer ever come into a store saying, “Gee, I’d really like to look heavier…and shorter, too?”

Addressing this challenge is what makes the new Chantelle C Magnifique bra an innovative new entrant into the field.  C Magnifique is, at its essence, a hybrid of a minimizer and a traditional bra, offering the benefits of both without the downsides.  The profile is somewhat lower but manages to avoid the silhouette pitfalls of many other minimizer options by ensuring that the sides of the cup don’t stray too far out.  In that way, the inherent shape of a woman’s torso is maintained.

C Magnifique is a full coverage bra and stands squarely in the category of every day comfort vs. special occasion or date night.  It’s made for wearability, with tone on tone pattern in its smooth jacquard lycra knit and foam padded underwires.  C Magnifique runs from C-H cups and up to a 44 band, meaning that not only is Chantelle providing the perfect button down shirt bra, it’s enabling a greater number of women to enjoy its benefits.

C Magnifique

  • More Centered Shape
  • Slightly Minimizing without East/West Effect
  • More Lift from Bottom of Cup
  • Narrower Leotard Back
  • Lower Center Gore
  • Thinner Straps
  • Lower Neckline
  • Closer-Set Straps at Back
  • Molded underwire that provides a T Shirt bra shape
  • Slightly minimizing without flattening
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The Bottom Line ~ Underwear Innovations

September 24, 2012

By Ali Cudby

Innovation comes in many guises, and in this column we’ll take a look at some “cheeky” new approaches to undies.  In this case, the focus is not so much on the garments, but rather their distribution mechanisms.

Empowered By You

 The Empowered By You panty is a new luxury brand that contributes a percentage of all profits to the Seven Bar Foundation.  The purpose of the Foundation is to provide women a means out of poverty and into business through microfinance.  With each Empowered By You thong, you get a short biography of the entrepreneur you’re helping with your purchase.  Specifically, one dollar from the sale of every panty will go toward the Seven Bar Foundation to provide microfinance loans to women to build or grow their own businesses, empowering them to climb out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.

In this case, the Empowered By You panty itself is also innovative – as the Brazilian cut thong sports a patented silicone flocking technology.

PantyByPost.com

PantyByPost.com is a monthly underwear subscription service delivering a curated selection of high-end underpinnings right to your door.  While it has been around for several years, it’s included here as one the first subscription-based models to have launched in the underwear space.  It has also been successful enough to spawn French language and Australian brethren – or should they be called sisters?

Part of what works well for PantyByPost.com is that it’s a focused niche – just underwear.  Customers have choices, but they are straightforward.  Each subscription is tailored to style (thong, bikini, hipster or mix), size (XS to 4X) and duration (single to year-long).  Packaging manages to walk the fine line between being both eye-catching and discrete.

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Technological Lingerie

September 2, 2012

By Ali Cudby

Innovation has many faces.  While I often discuss garments in this space, there are many more aspects to innovation in our industry.

Here are a few new ways in which technology is improving the lingerie buyer’s customer experience:

  • New website for Prima Donna and Marie Jo brands For consumers, one of the biggest challenges can be finding that elusive favorite lingerie piece in stores nearby.  The new website for the Prima Donna and Marie Jo family of brands addresses this issue by telling shoppers which of their 5000+ stores carries the pieces you’re searching for.  This search engine is more than a simple listing of stockists – it actually knows which stores carry your specific searched item, and even further refines by seeing which carry significant stock in that item.  The goal is to make shopping more pleasing and fruitful for the person searching for that special piece.
  • As part of its new flagship store in Paris, Empreinte has added a new level of luxury via their L’Atelier Lingerie.  L’Atelier first ignites the imagination with interactive digital displays of the entire Empreinte collection.  Using these tabletop displays, shoppers are able to select their favorite elements and colors to create lingerie customized to their specifications. These unique pieces are then crafted on-site.  Another innovative touch was the 3D hologram that appeared in the store windows to herald the store’s grand opening.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LTXZZuedxQ
  • Retailers – especially online – are always seeking new ways to help women find their best bra fit.  As the latest effort in this worthy quest, HerRoom.com recently introduced a “Know Your Breasts Bra Finder” questionnaire to help women identify the best bras for their unique bodies.  While starting with size and brand, the quiz zeros in on specific questions about breast shape and placement on the body, then makes recommendations accordingly.  As HerRoom founder and Chief Executive Tomima Edmark recently told The New York Times, “I want to take away the misery of buying a bra.”  For many women, the only possible response must be “bra-vo.”
  • Newcomer True&Co has gotten a lot of press for its top-secret algorithm for directing women to their ideal bra matches.  Their approach is slightly different, as women sign up for the True&Co expertise by filling out a questionnaire, and receiving a selection of bras – some the customer selects, while others are chosen by the company’s bra wizard.  Shoppers then return the bras they don’t love.  It is still too early to determine the accuracy of this concept, but an interesting approach to track.

With technology already integrated into most aspects of our lives, it seems only fitting (no pun intended) that it’s now woven into the fabric of our lingerie.

 

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Curves At CurveNY

August 12, 2012

By Ali Cudby

This year’s Curvexpo in New York revealed a number of manufacturers that are catering increasingly to the cohort of full-figured women.  This marks a shift from previous years, when the full-busted market got more of the attention.

What differentiates full-figured from full-busted?  Here’s the line of demarcation used in my book Busted! The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic:  Full-busted is D-cup and up; 38-band and smaller.  Full-figured is also D-cup and up, with a band size larger than 38.

While some manufacturers already go beyond a 40-band, the number of new entrants in that size range showing at this year’s CurveNY was striking.

Sculptresse:  Panache launched their new full-figured line, as well.  Sculpresse is “a range of feminine, flattering products for the fuller figure, designed to enhance…confidence through a combination of style, support, comfort and superior fit.”

Sculptresse’s debut collection is tight – with five designs in both cut-and-sewn and t-shirt styles.  Band sizes range from 36 to 46 in all styles.  Cup sizes go to a J-cup in some styles (though stop at HH for the largest band-sizes).   Bra prices will range from the mid $50s to low $60s.

Parisa Fé  A new brand at the most recent Curve show, Parisa Fé caters directly to the fuller customer.  Its line of t-shirt bras in both basic and fashion colors consciously aims to attract the younger, full-size customer – at price points she can manage.  Sizes range from a 32C to a 44H, encompassing elements of standard, full-busted and full-figured sizes.

All of the bras in the collection retail for less than $50, with some designs retailing for as little as $38.  Backed by Amir Moghadam and John Bowman, the manufacturing and marketing expertise behind this brand makes it one to watch.

In addition to these players, brands that aren’t specifically known as being full-figured are now offering bras up to a 44H – Chantelle, Prima Donna and Le Mystere, specifically.

It’s fab that specialty stores now have more options for the full-figured woman at a range of price points.

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Service, Self Esteem and Profit

July 23, 2012

By Ali Cudby

Is Your Lingerie Store Selling the Wrong Thing?

Imagine a woman walking into your lingerie store – what is she shopping for?  If your answer is “lingerie” you are, on some level, wrong.  While a customer may end up purchasing a bra or shapewear, the truth is that she is shopping for something much more profound.

As lingerie professionals, we KNOW that a woman is seeking emotional support in the fitting room.  She brings her insecurities about her body and her desire to be understood along with her into the shopping experience.  After all, how a woman feels about her breasts is intimately connected to how she feels about herself as a woman.  Shopping for lingerie becomes an extension of those feelings.

Now picture yourself seeing that same woman walk into your store.  What do you see?  A lot of the time, if you’re the person helping a customer, you may see dollar signs, SKU – perhaps a monthly sales target or commission.  It’s human nature to seek the thing that rewards us.

It may seem like these are two competing perspectives about a customer.  Actually, there is a way to satisfy both sets of needs – the store’s need to sell and the buyer’s need to be understood.

The solution starts with seeing each shopping exchange as being part of a larger relationship.  When we see customers as one-off transactions, we tend to focus on maximizing the immediate sale.  Focusing on a relationship that lasts over a longer period of time changes the perspective.  That shift in mindset allows you to focus on a woman’s needs beyond what she’s ringing up at the register that day.

Ultimately, this relationship-based selling is a win-win.  Customers win because they feel better understood, which builds loyalty and repeat sales – and that enables stores to win, as well.

Relationship based selling may take more time, and can be difficult to remember when a sales target is looming.  Providing your sales team with incentives and tools to help them keep the stores goal’s in mind can help.   If you’re not already, try keeping a mailing list and offering customers a special discount on their birthdays.  If this is something you’ve already incorporated into your customer experience, find your store’s own innovation to constantly enhance the personalized shopping experience.

Does your store have a great tool to keep the customer’s needs in mind on the sales floor?  Please share!  Email me at ali@fabfoundations.com and I’ll compile the responses for a future post.

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Slip into Innovation ~ Commando

July 8, 2012

By Ali Cudby

Recently, Commando was awarded a patent for their slip.  Intrigued by the aspect of their slip that made it a patented technology, I learned more – here’s what they shared:

AC:  Please explain the innovation that is built into your slip.

Commando:  The major innovation that is built into the slip, and is the basis for our patent, in the weighted hem. It’s a small weight system that is sewn into the hem and keeps the slip in place. It prevents the problems associated with slips from the past – no clinging, creeping, static and sticking to legwear. This innovation is combined with commando’s signature raw-cut microfiber fabrication and updated silhouettes from full length to mini.

AC: Was every innovation in Commando part of the application, or did it focus on one particular element?

Commando:  The weighted hem system was the focus of the patent application, however, the commando DNA was certainly a big part of what makes the slip collection special.

The commando line has been incredibly innovative since the beginning. Commando’s original low-rise thong was the industry’s first raw-cut underwear in the market that was completely invisible, comfortable and banished visible panty lines. The collection grew from there and the slip line was the next major innovation. The brand now includes commando control, dig-free luxury legwear, and our recently launched commando control shapewear.

AC:  Why did you decide to attempt the patent process and how long did it take?

Commando:  [Commando designer, Kerry O’Brien] attempted the patent process because she felt her slip design was very unique and modernized a garment that had all but been forgotten. It had been decades since there was another significant patent for slip construction. The process took about four years from start to finish. The slips were launched in stores in the summer of 2007 and the patent was awarded in March 2011. 

AC: Any advice for other lingerie manufacturers who are considering getting a patent?

Commando:  Kerry’s advice to other lingerie companies seeking a patent would be to ask yourself why you want it. What will it do for your brand? It’s a long and expensive process to undertake and one should consider whether having a patent will make a significant difference to your brand in the long run.

AC:  Any insight into a reemergence of the slip?

Commando:  We’ve seen the slip return in a big way over the past four years. It’s a garment that’s definitely being embraced by a younger group of women who didn’t grow up wearing one as well as by [mature women.] Sales are strong in all channels – department stores, specialty retailers and on-line retailers – and we’re often asked to add styles to mirror what’s going on in the world of ready to wear. As long as dresses continue to go down the runway slips are here to stay.

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J Is For Joy ~ Curvy Kate’s New J-Cup Bra

June 25, 2012

By Ali Cudby

The first Contour J Cup Bra previews for Fall 2012

At June’s Full Figured Fashion Week, panel participants and audience members alike got into a rollicking discussion about bras.  While many of these women were unaware of the options that existed in the market, some also lamented that the brands focusing on fashion-forward, full-figured options were limited in their sizes.

In fact, a Facebook poll revealed that only 14% of busty women have found a molded cup bra that fits them well, with size range and shape being the two main contributors of their dissatisfaction.

Now, the range of options for both full-figured and full-busted women is growing, with the introduction of the world’s first contoured J-cup bra, by Curvy Kate.  The bra, aptly named Smoothie,  will be available as part of the AW12 collection beginning in September.

“For fuller cup sizes, it is incredibly difficult to create a shape and support that truly lifts and contours such a heavy bust. The challenge is creating a mold that will suit many women’s shape and size, and it’s so much more than just stretching out or enlarging the same shape of a 32DD. After years of development, extensive research, fit tests and a turnover of countless samples that weren’t quite right, Curvy Kate finally found the perfect formula to cater to the needs of their fuller figured customers,” says the company.

The tone-on-tone leopard print provides a sense of fun without affecting the smooth silhouette, and is paired with brief and thong options on the bottom.

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