Briefs

By ELLEN LEWIS

Natori Luxe Leopard animal print robe and lace trimmed chemise as featured on Lingerie Briefs

In an era so focused on the earth, animals and their preservation are a message not easily ignored. It’s not only the disdain for hunting for pleasure; it’s about respect for all life. Slowly, the fashion industry has begun to hear the sirens of emerging consumer classes, youth driven and mad as hell. Diversity, sustainability, organic, vegan, simplicity are impacting design and purchasing power. But greater than all of these initiatives is the power of the female voice. It is the new definition of luxury.

“I am woman, hear me roar” was the anthem of my youth, but still its realization has been a long time coming. In the abyss of change between Helen Reddy’s 1971 proclamation and today’s consciousness, is a jungle of resistance to the song’s message.

Natori Luxe Leopard animal print Pajamas and slippers as featured on Lingerie Briefs

In the fashion world, all we can do is reflect these ideals through design and community. Perhaps that is why animal print lingerie has maintained its prominence in lingerie for decades. I have always perceived it as a basic, like black. Yet, if you study the animal message through generations, you will note today’s manifestation is cheekier, more abstract and color intense particularly prescient as environmental concerns become more urgent.

Jose Natori Tigress animal print gown as featured on Lingerie Briefs

I am highlighting Natori’s current Natori Luxe Leopard and the Josie Natori’s Tigress collections because these styles are an excellent reflection of the brand legacy of bold expression, comfortable luxury and quality workmanship which is in sync with today’s market mantra.  Perhaps this is because when Josie Natori launched her eponymous brand in 1977, only a few years after Helen Reddy won a grammy for her feminine call to arms, she was an outlier: a multi-cultural, entrepreneurial woman breaking through in a stayed industry desperate for change.

“A Woman With A Voice Is By Definition A Strong Woman” Melinda Gates

By ELLEN LEWIS

Gold plated garter belt from the Gilded Lace Collection by Monika Knutsson as featured on Lingerie Briefs

From almost the inception of Lingerie Briefs, we have been wrestling with how to integrate lingerie with other points of pleasure in a woman’s wardrobe and still stay on message.  Last week, when I visited Monika Knutsson’s jewelry studio, I discovered a perfect option, The Gilded Lace™ Collection. Monika’s business resonates because she is a female entrepreneur; an artist who “transforms traditional discarded lace into modern heirloom jewelry and interior design using a sustainable process.”

Gold plated bracelets and brooch from the Gilded Lace Collection by Monika Knutsson as featured on Lingerie Briefs

Lace is not only a mainstay of lingerie, but also when wrought in talented hands; it is an elegant symbol of femininity. The delicate craftsmanship requisite in producing a piece of lace has been harbored, mainly by women since it first emerged in the 15th century. Monika’s mission honors this legacy. The laces used in The Gilded Lace™ Collection, mainly Guipure, Calais, Valencienne and Raschel, are gleaned from estate sales, antique stores and flea markets in Europe, the USA and now Cuba.

Gold plated cuff from the Gilded Lace Collection by Monika Knutsson as featured on Lingerie Briefs

Development of the designs requires a painstakingly intricate procedure.  Patterns are drawn, carefully cut from the chosen lace, formed into the desired piece and then dipped in liquid 24ct gold or silver. Monika uses one of the oldest (and last) electroforming sources left on the east coast. The Gilded Lace™ products are all electroplated in a factory that recycles all of its metal, and uses contained water and power. (The plant is a source for NASA and provides the Oscar statuettes.) Further elevating the quality, each style is signed, numbered and delivered with a piece of the lace and the story that inspired it.

Gold plated necklace and earrings from the Gilded Lace Collection by Monika Knutsson as featured on Lingerie Briefs

It’s not surprising that bridal wear is found hanging in Monika’s workshop as customers provide inspiration for memorializing their weddings in jewelry, hairpieces and sculpture.  50% of the business is bespoke, and like many lingerie related merchandise, they are purchased by men seeking unique luxury gifts and women who recognize creative excellence.

Gold plated bra from the Gilded Lace Collection by Monika Knutsson as featured on Lingerie Briefs

 

“True Excellence is The Product of  Synergy” Mark Wilberg

 


By ELLEN LEWIS

Imagine 3000 women at a symposium discussing how they shop for bras.  The conversation might not be any different than the dialog we have all the time with our friends: Bra shopping is a conundrum. So, when my colleagues from NPD Group told me about their Bra Evolution initiative, I was intrigued.

NPD measures how consumers shop across all channels, sourcing data from both retailers and consumers to quantify sales, share, distribution, and velocity. They are an American Marketing Research company whose mission is to partner with their clients to “creatively” understand the information they collect in over 20 different industries, including Lingerie. Over 2000 companies worldwide rely on them to help them measure, predict, and improve performance, including brick-and-mortar and e-commerce

The Bra Evolution is an examination of the market shift identified by the emerging bralette business and its impact on bra shopping. The bralette has stormed the Lingerie business, rising from a simple category offer to the status of a critical anchor in a woman’s wardrobe. In its wake, the wireless wave has also surfaced. Women are demanding a release from constraint and NPD has taken up the mantle to determine how brands can best use this intelligence.

Under NPD’s egis, the 3000 consumers, ages 18 to 70, were surveyed about bra shopping habits and brand awareness.  They were queried about where they shop for bras; digital, brick and mortar, specialty, or big box. NPD dug deep into their personal needs in a bra wardrobe, how they perceived the marketplace, which brands struck a chord and why. The results were surprising and informative.

One thing for sure, the message did not deviate at any age: Comfort is Sexy. Some of the facts were enlightening:

  1. Women have an average of 7.5 bras in their wardrobes and 28% have at least 11.
  2. 45% of those purchases were sports bras, 7% increase since 2015.
  3. 63% purchased in store, 19% purchased on line, 18% purchased on line and in store
  4. Millennials (when broken out from that number) still purchased 57% in store, 21% on line, 22% in both channels
  5. Reasons for shopping online are predominantly ease, privacy, and price comparatives
  6. Influencers in purchasing decisions: comfort, support and sexiness. (This varies in importance by age)
  7. Women become more brand loyal with age (+35) and spend more money to be comfortable

Of course these points are backed by extensive data in several of the NPD charts that I will share here. I know that statistics don’t seem like a sexy theme. But as a mentor of mine once told me and I have lived by my whole career: “A great merchant is a combination of Picasso and Einstein”. If you can’t apply the numbers to product decisions, then you can’t build a business. That’s why NPD’s research is so important.

Charts provided by The NPD Group for feature on Lingerie Briefs

Charts provided by The NPD Group for feature on Lingerie Briefs

“Research is to See What Everyone Else Has Seen
and Think What Nobody Else Has Thought”
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

 

 

 

 

 


By ELLEN LEWIS

Commando's Butter Collection of sustainable intimate apparel as featured on Lingerie Briefs

You might be old enough to remember how the iconic advertising campaign slogan “What Becomes a Legend Most” catapulted the esteemed Blackglama fur company into popular culture. Considering its subject matter, luxury fur and celebrity status, its emergence during the 1960’s Youthquake was almost counter-intuitive.  Their strategy still exists today, much more under the radar and minus the star power. After all, aspirational luxury never really escapes the ecosphere.

Flash Forward 50 plus years and a new Youthquake has shaken up social mores and is redefining aspirational luxury. That’s why I have hijacked Blackglama’s tagline for Commando’s Butter collection as “What Sustains a Legend Most”.

Commando's Butter Collection of sustainable intimates as featured on Lingerie Briefs

There is no doubt that Commando stands at the forefront of Intimate Apparel innovation. Product history speaks for itself. Laser focused on fabric technology and always on the frontline of fashion movements, the brand has established itself as a runway favorite.  In their enduring quest to develop product that responds to consumer sustainability concerns, the Butter fabric proves the point.

Commando's Butter Collection of sustainable bodysuits as featured on Lingerie Briefs

The Butter collection, initially launched in 2015 with some basic underwear pieces, has been so successful it now claims 25 different style options. Customers love this superlative micro-modal fabric that is harvested from environmentally friendly Beech Trees. Beech Trees require no extra water and no pesticides.  The fibers are combined with Lycra® Beauty Fiber to insure 4 way stretch, excellent recovery and pill free performance. Knit with 50 needles per inch instead of the standard 28, Butter is superfine, super soft and super breathable.

But, what really got my attention was the state of the art Pro4tex dyeing and finishing technology. I am told that you can drink the water used during the process.  This is really critical to the advancement of sustainability in garment design. It is one thing for fabric to be carbon neutral, but without color creativity fails. No wonder Butter is certified with the Standard 100 by OECO-TEX.®

Commando's Butter Collection of sustainable bodysuits, leggings and tops as featured on Lingerie Briefs

Butter clearly stands at the forefront of sustainable intimate apparel development destined for legendary status. Credit for its discovery and design goes to Commando’s never ending quest for product evolution. The collection crosses every channel of Commando’s design inventory, leggings, bodywear, underwear, tops and shaping wear. As the season progresses, variations on the material continue to emerge with cashmere added to the formula. Creating sustainable fabrics that create sustainable products that create sustainable wardrobes, now that’s legendary.

“The Greatest Threat To Our Planet Is The Belief
That Someone Else Will Save It” Robert Swan

 


By ELLEN LEWIS

Luxury Lingerie Rigby and Peller Boutique in NYC as featured on Lingerie BriefsIt was unexpected: my visit to the Rigby & Peller store in downtown NYC last week. I was in the market scoping our fall lingerie stories and spring 2020 highlights. My objective was to get an overview from Van de Velde’s Prima Donna, Marie Jo and Andres Sarda collections. I usually do this in the showroom, but this time, Michele Kearns, the recently appointed Senior Marketing Manager for the US Rigby and Peller initiative, invited me to meet with her team on site. It was worth the journey.

Before spending several hours at the store, the Rigby & Peller brand conjured up one meaning to me. For years it was the holy underwear grail of the Royal family in the UK; clearly quality, perhaps a bit dusty, and not relatable to the contemporary market.  This perception was slightly undermined when my 20 something niece (32 G) tried on a Rigby and Peller bra while shopping with me at Harrods in London a few years ago.  She looked amazing and begged me to buy her the bra.

Luxury Lingerie from Andres Sarda, Prima Donna and Empreinte at the Rigby an Peller lingerie store in NYC featured on Lingerie Briefs

Nonetheless, I never saw the label on a pathway to USA foundations business.  Now however, I think the myth has been dispelled.  Using the legacy of the Rigby & Peller moniker, the company has positioned itself in 8 east coast urban locations as a destination for a highly curated lingerie selection. Premier brands such as Empreinte, Christine Silk, Simone Perele, Samantha Chang and a few more share real estate with the Prima Donna, Marie Jo and Sarda assortments.  Rigby and Peller’s subtle and sophisticated demeanor reflects the noble elegance of its moniker but in a relaxed modern appeal. Spending time there was a comfortable experience.

Placard at Rigby and Peller lingerie boutique in NYC as featured on Lingerie Briefs

Retail success or the lack of it, in brick and mortar venues is a major topic of industry conversation lately. E-Commerce has upped the ante and is definitely a conundrum for intimate apparel marketing. The saving grace, in my opinion, for bra shopping, is the issue of Fit. Fit still remains a critically personal part of the bra business and no algorithm, no matter how insightful, can substitute for the one on one experience in the privacy of the dressing room.  Perhaps that is why some of the best on line sites are putting down stakes. How serendipitous: the Rigby & Peller name, the Van de Velde expertise and some of the best in class brands woven together to raise the bar for lingerie shopping.

“Your Premium Brand Better Be Delivering Something Special
Or It’s Not Going To Get The Business”

Warren Buffett

 


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