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Annabel Gatward

Showcasing new designers is a priority for Annabel Gatward, founder of lingerie etailer Glamorous Amorous, as Emily Seares learns.

Why did you set up Glamorous Amorous?
I’ve always loved beautiful lingerie. I saw a gap in the market for an online luxury lingerie boutique and launched Glamorous Amorous in 2005.

What is your background?
I don’t have a background in lingerie. I worked for Fitness First for a long time, the chain of health and fitness clubs, and was incremental in the opening and roll-out
of new clubs across the UK. This gave me some fundamental tools to set up and operate a new business. I then launched an ecommerce operation for a business called ITL, which no longer exists, but it was a great introduction to the ecommerce world.

What is your unique selling point?
I introduced an ‘Our Designers’ section to the website. It features new lingerie designers (some fresh out of design school) with some really beautiful, individual designs. We have more than 50 designers and it gives us a real niche, separating us from some of our other online competitors. 

What do you look for in a new designer?
I look at the product itself, the fabrics and materials used, and craftsmanship. I also look at the personality of the designer and what inspired them. I have a fantastic team of designers but I’m constantly looking for fresh, new talent.

Do you think it’s important for retailers to support new talent?
Yes, it supports tomorrow’s talent and is something I am very passionate about. As an etailer it also gives me a point of difference from the high street. It’s great for customers to see the person behind the scenes and the story behind the label.

As an etail business, do you consider yourself to be recession-proof?
Etailers will not escape the recession unscathed, so we really need to give customers added value to keep them coming back. The benefit of being a small business is that you can make changes quickly, especially in times of uncertainty. We’re in testing times, but now is the time to be inventive and creative. There will always be wealthy customers out there who are willing to spend up to £500 on lingerie, but there are also lots of customers out there who we don’t want to exclude. So we offer price points ranging from £15 to £500.

Is sizing a key issue for you as a lingerie etailer?
Sizing is one of the biggest risk factors. Being able to try on a bra in your local department store is not something we can offer. Our returns policy has to be completely transparent so we gain our customers’ trust.

What can we expect from Glamorous Amorous next year?
I will be welcoming new designers on board and will continue to evolve the offer. I will focus on improving the website, but keep budgets tight and remain sensible about business planning. A natural progression is to offer more swimwear, but my key focus at the moment is the new designers section.

Where would you rather be when you’re not at work?
My time is hugely occupied by my one-and-a half-year-old son. However, as the New Forest is on my doorstep I find taking a long walk across the forest or going down to the local beaches very therapeutic.

Annabel Gatward is managing director of luxary online lingerie boutique Glamorous Amorous

My Icon

Vivienne Westwood, because of the cult status she has earned. Her longevity and carefree attitude to trends and her distinctive flavour set her apart. She is fully in touch with her brand and has not gone down the route of commercial exploitation. Her off-the-wall, provocative and often controversial style is very much what Glamorous Amorous is about – a superb retail experience while leaving customers with a degree of satisfaction that they’ve bought into something special.

Vivienne Westwood:

With her creative flair for design and distinctive individuality, it is easy to see why Vivienne Westwood is an inspiration for the Glamorous Amorous founder. The British designer, born in 1941, is often credited as being the creator of epoch-defining trends, most notably punk in the 1970s, and has gone on to achieve iconic status in the fashion world.

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