The headline in The Australian newspaper last fall must have made Jane Carrodus spit up her Foster’s.
It read: “Agent Provocateur Corners the ‘Empowered and Sexy’ Market.”
The story — about AP’s retail debut in David Jones stores across Australia last year — probably wasn’t news to Carrodus, who knows the luxury lingerie market Down Under better than most people.
However, it failed to mention a vital fact: Aussie girls aiming for the “empowered and sexy” look don’t need to rely on import brands like the UK’s Agent Provocateur anymore.
Last February — coincidentally, a few weeks ahead of AP’s first boutique opening in Sydney — Carrodus launched KissKill, the very seductive and very polished Melbourne lingerie label that aims to be Aussie’s homegrown answer to AP.
That might sound like a David-and-Goliath situation, with long odds against the upstart. But KissKill appears up for the battle.
Its debut collection earned raves, offering high-quality European styling mixed up with some erotic, kinky touches like open-cup bras, leather g-strings, and a sleek bodysuit with studded shoulder pads.
Today, KissKill enters its second year by borrowing a page from AP’s playbook — using celebrity star power to build its brand and goose its marketing efforts.
The label has partnered with Aussie ‘It Girl’ Cheyenne Tozzi to create its first signature line, Cheyenne for KissKill.
Although Cheyenne (above) isn’t yet a household name outside Oz, that could soon change. The willowy fashion model has been called “the next Elle Macpherson” and will command plenty of attention this spring when she stars alongside Naomi Campbell as one of the judges on the Aussie version of The Face reality modeling show.
Cheyenne’s line for KissKill is an intriguing mix of old-world elegance and rock-and-roll attitude. That means provocative pairings like gossamer eyelash lace alongside gold spike studs (below) — sexy, yes, and just a bit menacing.
In some ways, KissKill may have benefited from AP‘s decision to enter Australia, by piggybacking on the UK superbrand’s extensive market data and analysis.
AP boss Gareth Hogarth was quoted in late 2012 as saying the company’s website was drawing 20,000 visits a day from Aussie customers and did a brisk online trade Down Under. AP’s decision to establish a retail footprint — it’s now in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, with more to come — confirmed perceptions that Australian women were ready to embrace expensive erotic undies.
Today, Agent Provocateur may have “cornered the market” of young erotic adventurers who prefer to patronize established major brands, but that’s not everyone. The Australian lingerie industry supports numerous boutique labels and the country in general takes fierce pride in its homegrown talent.
KissKill faces a real battle for attention, market share, and more supportive press (inexplicably, The Australian hasn’t written about them). But one thing’s clear: this is one tough chick who won’t back down.
Below is a sample of products in the Cheyenne for KissKill collection. Check the brand’s website for more details.