You’ve dressed royalty, conquered the fashion press, and traveled the world — all before you turned 27. So what’s next?
If you’re the owners of Beautiful Bottoms, the silky lingerie and swimwear label from London, you start over with a risky name change that’s meant to take your high-flying brand to new heights.
Beginning next year, Beautiful Bottoms will be known by its new name Asceno, a portmanteau created by blending the maiden names of the mothers of co-founders Lauren Skerritt and Poppy Sexton-Wainwright.
The big question is why?
Beautiful Bottoms was an unlikely success story from the beginning. It came to life in 2009 as a marketing class project by two best mates and business students at Newcastle University, neither of whom had a background in fashion.
Working exclusively in airy silk georgette, they produced romantic ruffled knickers and soft bras with big flirty tie-sides and bows, the kind of thing that made dreamy college girls swoon.
But with each new seasonal collection Beautiful Bottoms reached higher, creating new loungewear styles with mesmerizing patterns and eventually branching into beach and swimwear.
Lauren and Poppy’s work with fashion-forward digital prints caught the attention of the fashion press everywhere and Beautiful Bottoms started appearing on some well-known, ahem, bottoms — including the tantalizing-but-unconfirmed report that Pippa Middleton wore BB under her bridesmaid dress at sister Kate’s wedding in 2011.
Nothing, it seemed, would impede the label’s upward trajectory. Except, perhaps, its slightly juvenile name. For BB’s founders, changing that name was less of a marketing move than a necessary rite of passage — like casting off an embarrassing childhood nickname.
“When we first started we were creating a brand for a customer who was quite young, a 20-year-old girl,” Lauren said in an interview with Lingerie Talk. “It was all about frilly knickers, very cheeky. It was a brand name that was very well suited to who we were then.”
Five years on, however, Beautiful Bottoms has evolved into a chic lifestyle brand sold in high-end boutiques, beach resorts and hotel spas around the world. Suddenly, that naughty name no longer reflected the brand’s character.
“We are very far from what we started out as,” Lauren said. “We’re much more sporty, more luxe.
“The brand name was cheeky but the product was cool and contemporary. It just didn’t fit. We needed a brand name that was more premium.”
The partners hired a brand consultant and spent two years developing a rebranding strategy, and finally decided to pull the trigger with their upcoming Spring/Summer 2015 collection of lingerie and beach ensembles.
“Psychologically, some women don’t want to wear a product called Beautiful Bottoms,” Lauren admitted. “Now we’re trying to sell a lifestyle, for the girl who likes to take a nice trip away. Now our customer is a 30-year-old woman, maybe a young mother. She’s also a slightly shier customer who might say, “But I don’t have a beautiful bottom!'”
The name change was also partly motivated by the need to reach image-conscious luxury retailers who may have been turned off by the erotic associations of the Beautiful Bottoms name (which was, surprisingly, more of a concern to retailers in BB’s home country than in the U.S. and other markets).
“Asceno is an easier name to retail to the end consumer,” Lauren said. “It sounds like the ocean. It sounds like a beautiful island somewhere, maybe on the French Riviera or the Greek islands. Somewhere you want to go.”
So far, the strategy is a smashing success. Retail customers are delighted and the label has been picked up by Holt Renfrew in Canada and Nordstrom in the U.S.
“It’s gone very well. It’s all positive. Retailers totally understand it,” Lauren said. “We’re really chuffed.”
Today, Beautiful Bottoms has enviable reach in markets around the world. It’s found in twice as many stores in the U.S. as in its home country, and it has stockists in South Africa, Malaysia, Australia and Hong Kong. The company even has a sales agent in Mauritius, who keeps the chic beach resorts in the Maldives and Seychelles supplied with the label’s trendy wraps and other swim pieces.
The company is aiming for a greater presence in European and Asian markets, something that should be easier with an inoffensive name like Asceno, which isn’t saddled with sexual connotations and won’t conflict with local culture or values.
What won’t change is the Beautiful Bottoms‘ aesthetic. Asceno will still be positioned a the lower end of the luxury market, offering lingerie and swim lines that combine casual, relaxed shapes with fashionable graphic prints.
To introduce the name change, the company will be promoting itself as “Asceno by Beautiful Bottoms” beginning next winter, with special garment tags that explain the brand story.
The last collection under the label’s original name is its Autumn-Winter 2013-14 range, called Graphic Galaxy, shown above. It features an entirely new assort of cosmic prints inspired by outer space.
Below are images from the debut Asceno lingerie and beach collection, which will reach stores next spring.
[Ed. Note: We asked Lauren about the Pippa Middleton story, but Beautiful Bottoms won’t discuss celebrity mentions other than to say they are “really grateful” for the exposure. “It’s very difficult with underwear to know what someone is wearing. And a lot of people don’t want to share what they wear underneath,” she said. “We don’t really comment about that. We try to be discreet.”]