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How Bracli Got Its Groove Back (NSFW)
Posted by richard | March 28, 2014
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Can an old pearl regain its original luster?

For Bracli, creators of the world-renowned pearl thong, the question isn’t academic.

The company whose orgasmic invention brought Kim Cattrall to her knees (literally) on Sex and the City, Bracli is undergoing a brand makeover in an effort to recapture its former glory.

Once a luxury gift of choice among hedonistic high-rollers, the new Bracli is presenting itself as a sexy, affordable fashion brand. And its target market? Middle America, Bracli is coming (pardon the pun) for you.

“The brand has not been marketed or positioned to its full potential,” Keith Gurev of Mika Brands, which acquired North American licensing rights to Bracli in 2011, told Lingerie Talk.

The newly reinvigorated Bracli recently unveiled an expanded collection of pearl-accented lingerie pieces — its first new line in four years — called the Paris Collection and is rolling out an ambitious marketing strategy across North America aimed at putting a new shine on the old pearl.

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A decade ago, none of this would have been necessary; Bracli was “the kind of brand that sells itself quite well,” Gurev admits.

The classic pearl thong, a combination of jewelry and lingerie, sold a million pieces worldwide, buoyed by some exceptional publicity and its outrageous promise to stimulate the clitoris of the wearer.

First developed in 1996 by Spanish banker Luis Alvarez as a gift for his wife, the pearl thong was once called “the holy grail of lingerie.” Alvarez smartly patented the design and started selling it in premium boutiques and hotel gift shops around the world.

Although it had all the characteristics of an amorous gift item, the company insisted Bracli would deliver its special pleasures in all occasions, encouraging women to wear it while shopping, working in an office, riding a bike or — yikes — climbing the stairs. “Everything is different when a woman does it wearing a Bracli in secret,” the company said on its website.

Lingerie guru Rebecca Apsan, who owns the New York boutique La Petite Coquette, famously brought the pearl thong to America in 1999. And, as a wardrobe adviser to Sex and the City, she helped give Bracli the kind of attention that made it a blush-inducing conversation topic around the world.

In a memorable 2002 episode, Samantha’s billionaire boyfriend Richard surprises her aboard his private jet with the gift of a Bracli thong and a salacious offer: “Maybe later if you’re good I’ll give you a pearl necklace to match.” (People with a dirty mind caught the double entendre, even if the censors didn’t.)

Sales spiked — just like they did when SATC featured the Rabbit vibrator — and suddenly Bracli was everywhere, appearing in Playboy magazine and sold in Victoria’s Secret flagship stores.

But the problem with products that sell themselves is that sometimes they are undermined by their own familiarity and inertia. Bracli‘s brand evolution seemed to stall a few years ago once its novelty and prurient appeal had faded, and the company’s occasional new styles weren’t much different than the 1996 original string of pure Mallorcan pearls. A men’s style was introduced but, for obvious reasons, it didn’t generate the same excitement.

At the same time, women were becoming more familiar with the erotic specialties market, and less shy about exploring it. And Bracli‘s original concept, once so risqué and revolutionary, became part of a crowded industry, just another gadget in the lover’s toolkit.

The internet didn’t do Bracli any favors, either. Anonymous reviewers on Amazon and other sites complained about hygiene issues, soreness caused by friction and other comfort deficiencies in the classic pearl thong. Even a Cosmo reviewer called the Bracli thong “better in theory than practice.”

Ironically, Bracli‘s image problem was foreshadowed by that legendary SATC episode that made it a household name. After she puts on her gift thong, Samantha rushes to meet her lover at his apartment and has to take the stairs. The experience of climbing stairs with a string of pearls between her legs leaves her buckled over in agony and, obviously, in no mood to frolic.

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To grow the brand for a new generation, Bracli‘s North American distributors went back to the drawing board to understand who its customers were, and what they thought of the product. Was it a luxury item, a sex accessory, a fashion garment, or a raunchy Valentine’s gift? More importantly, how do you create repeat customers for a product that is now familiar and much less shocking than it once was?

“We thought we knew our demographic,” Gurev said, “But we found there is really a broad base in our customers that we didn’t know was there. We get a lot of orders from Saudi Arabia and Dubai … but also a lot of orders go to rural America.”

Bracli was what’s called a coastal brand, with a strong market presence in New York, L.A. and Miami, but less prominent in the interior.

“Now we’re aiming for the heartland, places like Iowa and Illinois,” Gurev said.

But that effort presents some challenges — like how to reconcile Bracli‘s luxury pedigree with consumers’ post-recession focus on affordability. Bracli is trying to do both.

“In the U.S., there’s a huge market for ‘fast food’ lingerie,” Gurev said. “Most people expect to buy something for below $40 and made from polyester and synthetic materials. People are expecting a very low price point.”

Bracli may never be a discount brand, but almost every piece in the new collection is priced below $100. The company tries to lure buyers by emphasizing its European heritage.

“We call it affordable European excellence,” Gurev said. “We are trying to bridge the gap between European excellence and a price point that people can afford.”

The new Paris Collection is Bracli‘s most diverse yet: it includes eight new thongs, four chemises and babydolls, two bra styles and two accessories to go along with the Bracli classic collection.

Pearls figure prominently in most pieces, but often for purely ornamental effect, not just groin-tickling. The company switched to a premium French Chantilly lace that enhances the look and feel of the new pieces, improved its packaging and added more sizes (up to 16+) to appeal to more women.

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Gurev said the company has solidified its relationships with wholesalers and retailers and is working to identify the most appropriate sales channels for such a delicate product line (incongruously, Bracli was widely sold through Ebay and Amazon over the past decade).

A promotional video is expected later this year, which will help overcome the challenges of marketing a product line that is often too risqué to advertise broadly (“Obviously they don’t want us on billboards,” Gurev said). And, as the stylish NSFW images below show, the brand is clearly appealing to the rapidly growing bridal market.

“It is something we think is refreshing and new and exciting for the present,” Gurev said. “People love it for special occasions — honeymoons, bridal parties, anniversaries, even soldiers coming home from war. It celebrates passion and life.

“When you promise something that’s exciting and invigorating, there’s a lot of curiosity. Women want to experience sex and sexuality as much as men. A lot of women appreciate that.”

The Bracli pearl thong got another boost in the media spotlight recently, this time during an episode of Grey’s Anatomy during April’s bridal shower in the hospital lounge. And one thing clearly hasn’t changed over the years: Bracli‘s ability to turn a roomful of serious adults into squealing children.

When April pulls the slim box from the pile of bridal gifts, her sisters warn her — too late — that it should be opened in private. The ensuing hilarity is a classic Bracli moment, and the kind of publicity that’s impossible to buy.

“There’s no reason to feel embarrassed,” one of April’s sisters tells her as she considers her new bridal thong. “We all had our first time.”

You can order all of the styles below from Bracli‘s U.S. website.

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Posted in Lingerie News

One Response to “How Bracli Got Its Groove Back (NSFW)”

  1. Jennycolarz says:

    I enjoy reading your detailed review about Bracli thongs. I have found one interesting blog at Pearlpanties.net where they talk about all kinds of pearl thongs and I notice one important fact – there’s too many fake Bracli panties so just be careful when you ordering one over internet.

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