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HOTmilk Lingerie: Sexy Maternity Label Takes On The World
Posted by richard | September 17, 2010
Essentials Blaze bra | Hot Milk AW2010 Collection

Big things are happening for HOTmilk, the buzz-worthy maternity lingerie label from New Zealand that is rapidly becoming a recognizable international fashion brand.

HOTmilk has been slowly releasing new pieces from its highly anticipated autumn-winter line, as well as an entirely new collection of maternity basics called “Essentials” that includes seamless shapewear pieces specifically designed for expectant moms.

And, to make their products more accessible for North American consumers, HOTmilk this month will launch a U.S. website with an online boutique and plenty of other features to both educate and amuse shoppers.

To get a sense of how far HOTmilk has come, it’s necessary to take a step back.

The label was started in 2006 by friends Lisa Ebbing and Ange Crosbie who, like many indie startups, did much of their planning around a kitchen table and risked their families’ financial security and sanity to get their project off the ground.

The women’s business model was simple but daring: create a new market for European-style luxury intimates in a market that typically emphasized functionality over style. HOTmilk’s early pieces were a hit Down Under and eventually the UK as well, but it wasn’t until late 2009 when it began to make a serious splash in North America.

Today, HOTmilk is sold in over 800 stores in 47 countries, and will move an estimated 250,000 lingerie pieces this year. Sales have jumped more than 150% in three years, the company now employs 19 staffers, and it’s getting set to conquer North America. Truly an object lesson in well-planned, well-deserved success in a notoriously fickle industry.

HOTmilk owes a lot of its recent growth to exceptionally smart marketing that was, in retrospect, as risky as it was risqué.

First, there was that evocative name: “hot milk”, a saucy declaration that this was not just department-store maternity wear, but lingerie to make expectant and nursing moms feel and look sexy as hell. Think about this: during your third trimester, as you coped with endless body changes and hormonal flux, did you ever wonder where the sexy went? Same question for all those sleep-deprived post-partum new moms who wake up wondering, what the hell has happened to me?!?

Have a look at HOTmilk’s promo photos and you’ll have your answer.

Last winter, HOTmilk took a big leap with its now-classic photo campaign featuring models in highly eroticized fairytale settings. To heighten the effect, they gave each piece in the 2010 collection a storybook name such as “Tamed by Her Sensuality” and “Radiant in Her Rescue.”

But the real game-changer, for both HOTmilk and a number of other upmarket maternity labels, was their debut video commercial — a truly subversive piece of marketing that torched its viewers’ preconceived notions of how pregnant women should look and behave. It’s been viewed nearly a million times, and to this day YouTube requires viewers to verify they’re over 18 before watching it!

While all this was happening HOTmilk picked up some priceless (and unpaid) celebrity endorsements from such trendsetting figures as Jennifer Hudson, Kourtney Kardashian and even a pregnant Kendra Wilkinson, one of Hugh Hefner’s better-known exes.

Luminous bra and panty | HOTmilk Essentials

Today, HOTmilk is poised to make the leap from small indie favorite to worldwide fashion brand by developing distribution partnerships in Europe and the U.S., with a goal of getting their collection into 2,000 stores in the next three years. Whew!

None of this would mean anything, however, if HOTmilk’s lingerie collection didn’t warrant all the fuss — but it does.

The new Essentials collection, for instance, is a stylish group of maternity “basics” that combines satin, lace and microfiber fabrics. (That’s the cream Luminous bra and brief set in the photo at right.)

Essentials is somewhat less extravagant than HOTmilk’s fashion lines, but it’s a good, functional foundation for any expectant or nursing mom. The shaping technology provides welcome support, and the collection is offered in sizes up to an H cup. Essentials will be in stores by January and comes in nude, black and cream styles.

In the photos below, you can also see two new items from the AW 2010-11 fashion collection.

Finally, the bottom photo shows customers who signed up for HOTmilk’s “Real Life” ad campaign that celebrates the inner beauty of expectant moms.

Her Enchanted Dreams | Hot Milk AW2010 Collection
Her-Tangled-Web-Tantalised | HOTmilk AW2010 Collection
Real Women Campaign | Hot Milk Nursing Lingerie

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