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Risky Business: Lingerie Makers Go Outside Their Comfort Zone

Ahh…temptation. Isn’t that what shopping is supposed to be about?

Sometimes it’s hard in these tough times for retailers to think about anything survival, and stick to the safe and secure, but that’s not always going to be the right trick to woo the consumer. Sometimes, it pays to take a risk, especially when there’s a void to be filled.

Fredericks of Hollywood Fall 2009 Collection
Source: Fredericks of Hollywood
Fredericks of Hollywood Fall 2009 Collection

Both Frederick’s of Hollywood and Limited Brands' Victoria’s Secret are launching new lingerie lines that are targeting consumers outside their usual demographic.

Frederick's will be using its wholesale division's Movie Star and Cinema brands to target women ages 16 to 24 years old with a line of intimate apparel that's a little tamer than the styles typically associated with the Frederick's brand. The idea is this age group may feel bored by the usual cotton nighties, but may not ready for a risqué teddy.

There’s a void in the retail landscape for "tamer" intimate apparel that still has a "sassy and sexy" edge, says President and CEO Linda LoRe.

The Cinema and Movie Star brands will draw from the Frederick’s heritage. Some pieces can even be worn as outerwear for a “flirtier, sexier” look, LoRe says.

Although she acknowledges that women are not spending as much on their wardrobes as they did before the recession, they are still are looking for “something new and exciting.” But what many are finding at the stores the same T’s, tanks and pants.

The philosophy has served Frederick’s retail line, which includes the Frederick’s Hollywood stores, catalogs and Web site, well this fall. Sales were up in slightly in August, LoRe says. She attributes this to fall line-up’s “bright colors and fun fabrics."

“The price points are so sharp,” she adds.

Consumers for the Frederick’s products tend to be older than those that will be targeted by the Cinema and Movie Star brands.

Still, LoRe says retailers need to remember that in the current climate, consumers “need a reason to shop.”

“They need a point of difference,” she says. For this Fall, Frederick's bet on fresh colors like magenta and chocolate as well as the menswear-inspired lingerie that dominates its rivals' collections as well.

As for the Cinema and Movie Star brands, they should hit department stores in the spring. The company is currently in the process of looking for an investor in order to raise additional funds to help support its business, including the launch of the two brands.

LoRe is hopeful the products will find fans among younger women, and if these women develop a taste for something a bit more provocative, so be it.

Meanwhile, Victoria's Secret is placing its bets on a new "everyday" collection that hit stores this month. Prices for bras in this collection begin at $29.50, which is significantly less than its average bra price of $45.

The company's move comes as weak bra and panty sales contributed to a 27 percent drop in the Limited's fiscal second quarter profit. Victoria's Secret is the company's largest brand.

Victoria's Secret's Pink division, which caters to younger women, also will have a Wear Everywhere bra, which will be promoted with a "buy two for $32" offer.

The company hopes this will coax consumers to stock up on basics. Then, while they're shopping for everyday, perhaps they will also buy some of the higher-margin items such as the Bio-Fit 7-way bra, which has straps that convert to a variety of styles. The bra retails for $49.50.

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Retail