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Game On!
Posted by LT Staff | July 27, 2012

What do athletes do with all those medals once the Olympics are over? Loungerie label Kriss Soonik offers this cheeky hint in a mini-shoot to promote the London Games … and one of the new styles of Soonik’s popular Diana velour wrap from her upcoming collection.

Let the games begin! (more…)

A New York Lingerie Tasting
Posted by richard | July 27, 2012

Sorbet-hued lingerie is everywhere this season, so it makes sense that someone would find a way to bring together bright summer undies and cool dessert treats.

That someone is Cosabella, which has teamed up with trendy gelato brand Ciao Bella for a unique summer promotion.

The New York-based Italian lingerie label gave its three U.S. stores a makeover this month, with window displays that matched pieces from its colorful Never Say Never collection with corresponding flavors from Ciao Bella’s vast assortment.

And tomorrow (Saturday), visitors to Cosabella’s flagship store on Lafayette Street in NYC will get an extra treat: a free tasting of Ciao Bella’s gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt products.

There are other promotions tied in with this partnership, including a lingerie giveaway for customers who send in photos of Cosabella’s window displays.

It’s hard to imagine a better way to beat New York’s summertime heat. Just be careful where you put those sticky fingers!

Here’s a few more shots of Cosabella’s New York and Atlanta window displays.

[Ed. Note: Laurie van Jonsson operated the independent label Vanjo Lingerie from 2005-2009, and is the author of the new book How To Become A Lingerie Designer. Lingerie Talk invited Laurie to share lessons from her experience running a small lingerie business. Her thoughts are below, along with some images from Vanjo’s catalogue.]

What can make one lingerie company successful and yet another close it doors?

I had survived the dreaded first four years of running a business, was being stocked internationally, and when I finally rolled up that last bit of elastic and turned off my machines I had just been approached by Bravissimo. I had exceeded far more than I ever thought I would.

So why close it down?

There’s no straightforward answer, but I do have the luxury of hindsight so I can share what I would do differently if I could do it all over again. Though it’s not all black and white, my mistakes are tightly woven with the best decisions I ever made. But there are certain things I have learned:

Have a good network of people around you.
I started my label when I left Thailand and moved straight to Northern Ireland, arriving with just a backpack and knowing only a couple of people. Financially it worked, as there were many grants I was able to apply for. Plus there were no jobs for lingerie design there, flights to London were cheap and I could tackle the international market with Dublin just being over a two-train ride away.

But at the start, when I was working from home from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., it became lonely and I had only the postman to distract me!

Although I didn’t have anyone close at hand, what I did have was a godsend — a friend in a similar boat who had started her own grading company in her home town in Wales. She became my lifeline, because no one else really understands (or cares) that your second batch of overlocking thread doesn’t match the first and the dilemma of whether to unpick the whole lot or just to carry on.

Never try to be bigger than you are at the start.
This is one I found hardest to sit with, having already worked for large high street stores, where everything was done fast and on a big scale. I found myself working as a one-man band, and because of the speed I knew I could go, I wanted things done quicker and better than I could physically do them.

I sometimes envied the designers who had no experience in the trade as they couldn’t compare themselves to what they had previously done. Instead of relishing the fact that I hand-made all my lingerie to start with, and needed to build slowly, to build and establish my brand, I headed straight to the top and started saying yes to all stockists who wanted me — including Topshop, which told me that they didn’t want next season’s range, they wanted this one, and soon. Then they kept upping their order and I kept saying yes, working seven days a week on the dreaded 7 a.m.-11 p.m. shift for three months solid.

If I was aiming to go high again so soon, I would make sure I have the goods to back it up with.

Don’t spend money you don’t have.
Sounds pretty simple, but when you’re in a big warehouse with every shade of elastic and trim, you do end up going crazy. Did I really need to buy 500 metres of black brushed back elastic in two varieties?

Decide the style of your brand.
When I first started my brand not only did I design lingerie, I also did men’s trunks (under the name Vanjon) and just for good measure I did men’s and women’s T-shirts. Looking back I do wonder, what the hell was I thinking? The time and money I spent on that I could have spent on the lingerie.

Save money where it counts.
Yes, another one about money, but without a cash flow you have no business. Be realistic where you can save money, and where you should spend it. To start with, I paid my model with underwear, as well as the make-up artist. I also managed to get a shoot done in a vintage shop for free by using some of the shop’s jewellery and mentioning her shop in my local press releases.

Have a business plan.
Even if you don’t have an accurate vision at the start, ensure you update your plan yearly. My first business plan was basic: who I was aiming at, a list of magazines or blogs I wanted to cover me, what shops I wanted to be stocked in. I also had a rough cash flow plan, wildly inaccurate in the first year, but each year I came back to it and I could see how and where I needed to improve.

That said, trust your instinct.
Don’t be scared if it feels right or it’s a last-minute decision to do something outside your business plan, this gets easier the longer you go on. Many people told me from the start not to include 28-inch backs in my size range because they wouldn’t sell, so I’d be wasting my time getting the fit right. From the start 28FF was one of my best sellers, and I’m glad I didn’t listen to them.

Know where you are heading.
Where do you want to end up finally? Four years in, I found myself wondering if I’d ever get out of the cycle of having not enough time or money. Self-doubt started to creep in, mixed with the fact that I was a crossroads where the label was too big for me to do by myself, but not big enough to outsource. And since I didn’t know where I finally wanted to be, I didn’t know what to do next.

Knowing I couldn’t keep up the momentum of working the hours I did with the little I paid myself, I closed down the label.

Did I regret it at the time? Yes and no. When I saw lingerie magazines covering designers I felt a stab of envy and wondered what I would do next.

Now, though, I have no regrets. If I hadn’t closed Vanjo, I would never have gotten the chance to follow my other passion and write (How To Become A Lingerie Designer has finally been finished and is available to buy). And I would never have gotten the chance to spend my time after I closed Vanjo down traveling to different parts of Europe.

Running Vanjo made me aware of how much I could achieve. I never flourished in money, but the thrill of a stockist wanting to stock your brand, or a magazine choosing to showcase your lingerie, or a customer writing to thank you for your designs — they’re the highs that you seek.

Would I do it again knowing how hard it is?

Without a shadow of a doubt. Just next time I’ll make sure that I’m where I want to be in life first, and have a plan of where I want to end up.

[Laurie currently works as a lingerie designer for a major brand in Australia. You can read our earlier review of How To Become A Lingerie Designer here.]

Video: Fortnight Shoots For The Stars
Posted by richard | July 25, 2012

The summery video below is just a teaser, but it should generate some enthusiasm for the 2013 collection from Toronto label Fortnight Lingerie.

The new collection, which will debut during market week in New York next month, is called “Asteria” — a reference to asterism, the name given to patterns visible in distant star clusters that aren’t constellations.

This will mark the fourth collection from the much-admired Fortnight, which produces one new collection a year. The made-in-Canada brand is known for its fit-conscious, tailored lingerie styles that employ modern mesh fabrics and (in our opinion) look and fit like premium swimwear.

The video gives just a hint of what to expect from the Asteria set — like snug slip dresses, perhaps?

If you’re a retailer or buyer and you want to check out Fortnight Lingerie‘s new collection up close, good news: the Fortnight team will be presenting its first-ever showcase during New York market week from Aug. 4-8.

They’ll be taking appointments at the Ace Hotel on West 29th Street, so if you’re in town to visit the Curve Expo show or the Lingerie Designer Showcase, make sure to add Fortnight to your must-see list! You can reserve an appointment time through their website.

How’s this for a product launch?

When the new American label Authentic Country Brand debuted its first lingerie collection back in May, they needed five police officers to control the crowd and keep photographers in line.

The setting wasn’t New York or L.A. or even Nashville — which might have been appropriate considering the label’s homespun look and rural appeal — but China, where Authentic Country Brand wowed visitors at the annual Shenzhen international lingerie show with a booth set up like a barn (see below) and a runway show resembling an R-rated episode of Hee Haw.

The (mostly male) Chinese press went gaga over the new label’s blend of stylish garments and old-fashioned American showmanship, and ACB got coverage on five TV shows. Country, it seems, needs no translation.

Authentic Country Brand, which will launch an online store for U.S. customers next month, is a labor of love for industry veteran Kate Liegey and her design partner Lizziee Jerez.

Liegey has helped develop lingerie and shapewear brands for major fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger (she was the first to add men’s wide waistbands to women’s underwear) and has been the project manager for several celebrity lingerie labels over her 20-year career.

ACB is the culmination of that experience and gives both Liegey (on the left in the photo at right) and Jerez a chance to pay tribute to both their southern roots (North Carolina and Tennessee) and the traditional values associated with rural America.

Authentic Country Brand encompasses a real girl, a girl who’s wholesome, who loves country music, who values things that are authentic,” Liegey told Lingerie Talk.

“There’s so much adult lingerie out there. We wanted a lingerie line that a mom could wear and feel comfortable having her daughter wear too.”

Authentic Country offers a romantic collection of comfortable bras, panties, sleepwear and loungewear that is more affordably priced than department store offerings — all the bra-panty ensembles are under $30 thanks to ACB’s factory-direct e-commerce model. Based in New York, ACB is manufactured in China, where Liegey spent years overseeing suppliers and factory compliance for other labels.

But it’s those promotional images of cowgirls in their Stetsons and Justins, doing farm chores in their undies, that will really make people take notice of the new label. There’s also a series of videos like the one below that combine down-home narratives with country tunes — talk about a marriage made in heaven.

The company’s marketing hits a lot of notes that resonate deeply in the American psyche — farm life, country music, healthy outdoor lifestyles, hard-working families … and even a dash of red state politics during an election year in which everyone’s waving a flag.

But ACB’s grassroots pitch isn’t just some ad agency bullhooey. The company is committed to supporting farmers and sustainable farming practices in particular, and shot those iconic campaign images at New York’s Glynwood sustainable farm, where ACB team members have ridden for years. And a portion of profits from the new label will go to support the No Farms, No Food campaign of the American Farmland Trust.

“We wanted to give something back,” said Liegey, who brought her horse with her when she moved to New York from Nashville 20 years ago. “The farming industry is in dire need.”

In fact, Authentic Country Brand has one strategic goal that undoubtedly sets it apart from every other lingerie label.

“One of our goals is to leave New York and go back to North Carolina or Nashville and set up a sustainable farm,” Liegey said. “Eventually you have to get out of the rat race.”

Below are some more images from Authentic Country‘s memorable first campaign. You probably won’t find yourself mucking out the stalls or riding a tractor in your ACB undies, but a cowboy can dream, can’t he?

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