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Brand Consistency ~ Journelle

October 21, 2013

By Ali Cudby

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Welcome to the fourth installment of this series on branding in lingerie. Today we’ll be talking to Claire Chambers, Founder & CEO of the amazing Journelle stores in New York City.

If you are new to the branding series, you can take a look at previous articles about Lingerie Briefs, Secrets in Lace and INVISTA/Eurovet.  The goal in these articles is to offer lingerie retailers diverse perspectives on branding from an array of industry leaders that you can apply directly to your business and foster growth.

Journelle is a luxury suite of retail stores in New York City, with three locations strategically found on the Upper East Side, Union Square and Soho.

AC: How do you characterize the Journelle brand?

CC: Journelle was born out of my strong belief that beautiful lingerie should be an everyday affair.  Journelle actually comes from the French word “journellement,” meaning “daily.” We love a special occasion and carry plenty of lingerie to fit that bill, but we also believe in everyday lovely. This doesn’t always mean the laciest or most extravagant set, but it does mean that everyday, every woman deserves to look and feel her best.  This idea of “everyday lovely” has become our central brand promise.

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AC: How did you determine your brand positioning? 

CC: It was an informal process, but it was largely based on my own experience (and dissatisfaction) shopping for lingerie as a 25-year old in NYC. I never felt that the sales staff or the atmosphere were as lovely as the lingerie I was buying. Eventually it became an obsession of mine to try to fix this, and that’s when I began more formally polling others to see if I was the only one – and I wasn’t.  No woman wants to feel anything but her very best when shopping for lingerie and that idea is something I really tried to harness when planning Journelle.

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AC: How do you broadcast that branding to customers?

CC: Everything that goes into Journelle is intentional. We’ve determined a visual aesthetic, as well as a brand voice and strive to ensure that they’re both maintained, while of course adapting them when and where necessary. You’ll see little things that make Journelle what it is. For example, we use a specific shade of purple, we love peonies and we’ve even bottled our favorite Linden scent into a Journelle branded lingerie wash. We have a saying around the office that everything that comes out of us should be “Journelle-ized.”

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AC: What’s a key lesson you’ve learned along the way?

CC: I think something I’ve learned is the importance of consistency of experience. Branding doesn’t only refer to the visuals you see on our website or the copy in our emails; it refers to the entire experience and atmosphere of Journelle. The robes in our fitting robes and the layout of our stores have to be consistent – but what matters even more is the consistency of the interaction between our customers and our team members.  Over the years, the feedback that has, therefore, come to matter the most is about the whole experience.  When people rave about that, we know we have it right.

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AC: I admire the fact that your stores are in neighborhoods with very different vibes, but still evoke that Journelle brand. How did you balance keeping branding consistent while also giving each store a personality that matched the demographics of their neighborhoods?

CC: The key is balance. When opening a new store, we’re very aware of the entities that make Journelle, but we of course want to keep in mind our new surroundings. We might change up the merchandise a bit or hold different types of events in each of the store. It’s important to listen to our customers and what they’re looking for.

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AC: Do you have criteria that you apply against your open to buy numbers that speak to your branding perspective?

CC: We present a refined and highly curated collection of lingerie – not an overly exhaustive selection. At the beginning of each buying season, we decide on the key looks, colors and we’ll even craft a story about that season.  This helps us maintain a point of view on what we’re buying.  We also balance fashion pieces (which we refresh often) as well as core pieces, which are pieces that are tried and true staples. If we see a certain style or color or fit doesn’t do [as] well, we’ll re-consider for the following season. We never disregard any feedback we get on our merchandise and that helps us make choices on what or what not to stock.

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AC: What advice would you offer to retailers in thinking through their brand?

CC: I would say that the most important thing is making sure you are being honest with yourself about what you want your brand to be versus what is actually happening. As a former management consultant, I am familiar with the many brand strategies that are so well-planned and intentioned, but which never become a reality.  You can really only build a brand by delivering on your brand promise, consistently, and that takes a lot of hard work, humility and a consistent interest in your customer’s experience and satisfaction.

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Brand Expansion ~ Eurovet & Invista™

October 7, 2013

By Ali Cudby

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So far in this lingerie branding series, we’ve looked at Lingerie Briefs and online retailer, Secrets In Lace. Now we are asking; What happens when you want to expand your lingerie brand?

It’s important to be strategic when considering expansion. There’s plenty of upside – new market, new customers, and dreaming about the ka-ching dropping to the bottom line. On the flip side, getting expansion wrong can be expensive in both dollars and cost to your established brand’s reputation. You need to evaluate the risks.

Before you go rushing off to multiply, it’s important to consider how and when to grow. One way to consider expansion is with a test. Even smarter – doing that test with a partner who stands to benefit while also shouldering some of the cost.

lycra_invista_8151826The lingerie world recently saw an ideal example of that kind of brand expansion test. The players were Eurovet – the company that runs our lingerie trade shows worldwide – and INVISTA™, the company that brings us Lycra®.

The event was a taste of the famous and highly attended Interfiliѐre, the fabric supplier side of the semi-annual trade shows in Paris,Hong Kong and Shanghai. The exclusive event connected key buyers and retailers with leading global fabric mills using a first-of-its-kind trend presentation format. “The trend presentation allowed us to bring deeper insights directly to the American market and its key players,” states Marie-Laure Bellon-Homps, CEO of Eurovet.bellon

In other words, for Eurovet, it was an opportunity to test the viability of bringing the Interfiliѐre fabric show to the US market in the future, most likely in conjunction with Curvexpo.

For INVISTA™, it was a chance to share some key innovations in Lycra® directly with the designers and manufacturers who make the fabric decisions for intimates, activewear and swimwear.

Both partners won by presenting their benefits directly to the market of pros who stand to gain directly from their products and services. By doing the test as a one-day event, with a select subset of strategically selected mills, expenses and exposure were limited. The event was a success, with great turn-out and a fantastic look at the trends we’ll be seeing translated to garments in Spring/Summer 14 and even looking as far forward as AW15.

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So, as a retailer, what does this mean for you? First of all, when fabric shows come to North America, it means better access to materials for independent brands that may not otherwise have the opportunity to see the newest fabrics, trims and trends the market has to offer. Access means more choices to eventually find their way into the products you’ll be seeing on the market.

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It’s also helpful for you, as retailers, to see the fabric market for yourself. These raw materials will ultimately make their way into the lingerie that you will be buying the following season. Since fabric is providing some of the most exciting innovation in lingerie, direct exposure helps you better understand what goes into the lingerie you select for your stores.

 

Learning more about the fibers and fabrics that go into lingerie, active-wear and swimwear means being able to explain the difference quality makes to a finished garment. It’s important to understand quality differences and share them with customers in order to justify the premium prices that come with higher-end garments. There is opportunity to upsell more easily when customers understand the value of quality products.

The more you, as a retailer, are educated about all aspects of the products you offer customers, the more it enhances your brand.

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Bra Size Or Breast Size ~ Intimacy Study Clarified

August 20, 2013

By Ali Cudby

Recently there was a flurry of articles seemingly saying that women’s average bra size jumped from a 34B to 34DD since 1983.  The source was a study by Intimacy.

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As a retailer, you may have found the headlines a little hard to believe – I certainly did.  Are women’s bodies really changing?  If so, why?  As a retailer, it’s important to understand changes or trends having to do with women’s bodies because that relates directly to how you buy and otherwise serve the women who shop with you.

As Elisabeth Dale asked in her Breast Briefs article on the topic, where’s the science?  There may be numerous reasons why women’s bra size may be changing, but there hasn’t been a lot … Read more

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Your Guide to the Top Lingerie Trade Shows – New York SS14

July 29, 2013

By Ali Cudby

August may be a month for your friends and neighbors to drift into the lazy haze of summer, but if you work in the lingerie industry, this is a busy month for working on the buying and planning side of your retail business.  Yes, it’s trade show season again.  After jaunts through Paris and Miami, this week the madness descends on New York City, where there will be a trifecta of major events for the lingerie industry.

The fun begins on Thursday, August 1st with LingerieFW, the official fashion week for the lingerie industry.  LingerieFW successfully debuted in February and is thrilled to be back for its sophomore event with even more exciting shows!  The three-day event will feature catwalk shows … Read more

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Color Rules! Claudette’s Dessous

May 27, 2013

By Ali Cudby

Claudette’s Dessous line became an instant hit the season it debuted, and has continued to grow its devoted following.  The line itself is relatively (and deceptively) simple – a sheer, stretch mesh, cut-and-sewn bra with a couple of matching bottoms.  What has set Dessous apart is equally simple:

Customers LOVE the colors.

The season Dessous launched, Claudette showed a series of neon colors, exactly when neon was getting attention as a fashion trend.  Seeing the line-up of electric purple, blue, green and pink drew buyers to the booth of the new brand.  The color story was similarly attractive to customers when the product hit store shelves.

From a merchandising perspective, having access to all of those colors at the same timeRead more

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Growing Through Change – Linea Intima

May 13, 2013

By Ali Cudby

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When a retailer is in business for the long haul, the business will invariably encounter changes.  Sometimes stores hang on to the tried and true, hoping for the best, while others embrace change and grow.  Liliana Mann, owner of the iconic Linea Intima, in Toronto, has gone the latter route.

PastedGraphic-2To celebrate the boutique’s 15th anniversary, Mann opened a 1330 sq ft location in luxurious Bayview Village.  Within the classic Linea look, there is a new shop-in-shop concept store, called “elle aime – for the love of me.”  elle aime’s energy is younger and cheekier, with a boudoir-inspired design that’s “Barbie meets Bendel’s.”  “elle aime allows me to create a more affordable, on-trend collection of brands that I wouldn’t … Read more

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