Lingerie and swimwear business Wacoal Europe has refreshed its brand portfolio for spring 18. Brand director Laura Simon talks us through the changes and reflects on how the UK market is evolving.
Which brands have been refreshed for spring 18 and in what way?
Wacoal, Fantasie, Freya and Elomi. As we developed spring 18, it was key to give the brands their own identities, understand exactly who we are talking to and to develop clear messaging to grow our audience within the market. Our Goddess and B.tempt’d brands are also being reviewed, to be introduced at a later date. All the brands will change slightly to ensure there is space between them within our portfolio – however, we are investing in communications in Freya in Europe and Elomi in the US, so you will see a more prominent shift in those two.
Why refresh the brands now?
The business has grown organically over many years and we have a fantastic loyal consumer for our brands. However, we want to ensure we continue to evolve. It’s time to invest in our future.
What were the challenges of doing this?
I joined the business in June 2016, so refreshing the brand portfolio, as well as working in partnership with the design teams on the direction of our product, was quite a challenge to take on in the timeframe.
Will we see further changes for autumn 18?
Absolutely, this is just the beginning. For Wacoal in particular, you will begin to see the influence of new design director Sachi Wakashiro, who has more than 15 years’ experience within the group (former design director at Wacoal China, Wakashiro joined Wacoal Europe in the same role in November 2016). We have worked very closely on the direction of the brand and will be supporting it in Europe with communication – establishing it as our most premium brand within the portfolio.
Fantasie is your bestselling brand in the UK. Why?
Fantasie consistently delivers results. We pride ourselves on fit and have some key signature products that have a very loyal customer base. The growth over the years has come from a strong fashion offer and a very important core continuity product offering which is sold all year round.
We need to evolve slowly with this brand to make sure we are loyal to our following. As we grow in the rest of Europe and the US, we need to consider the similarities and differences of the markets to ensure that our product collections are universally loved.
In your view, how is the lingerie market in the UK evolving?
We continue to see an increasingly competitive market, with high street retail space being squeezed. Lingerie brands will need to work much closer to their customers and work harder to build awareness, to drive traffic and footfall.
What are the biggest opportunities in the market?
There are three key things. First, demand is high within the fuller figure market. Elomi (which is aimed at fuller-figure consumers) is our fastest-growing brand within the portfolio, and we don’t see this changing any time soon.
Second, everyday fashion is still hugely important. As a result we have kept in line with ready-to-wear and outerwear fashion trends. We have seen a growth in our bralette styles and softer pieces. Our bralettes now go up to a 38HH. Our T-shirt bra category has also grown.
Finally, the athleisure trend is now the norm. Developing clothing that women can wear for the gym as well as for coffee is key.
- Price range: £15.20 to £29.41
- Wacoal is the more premium of the group’s brands, aimed at “chic” 35-to-45-year-old women
- Price range: £14.22 to £22.75
- Fantasie is a fuller-bust brand for everyday wear
- Price range: £12.32 to £18.96
- Freya is also for fuller busts, but has a younger, more creative and playful look
- Price range: £15.17 to £17.25
- Goddess is targeted at fuller figure consumers with an emphasis on fit
- Price range: £16.11 to £22.75
- Elomi is designed for a younger, more fashion-forward fuller-figure consumer.
- Price range: £5.40 to £15.11
- B.tempt’d is a smaller cup-size, fashion-forward brand