(Filed Under wholesale Shapewear News). Julie France, the shapewear division of Eurotard, has a particularly interesting background: dancewear (as in ballet dance). This has had a great influence both on the way it designs its garments as well as how it interacts with retailers. BODY interviewed general manager Rodrigo Cano to explore what makes this firm so different from many of its competitors.
Monjo: Can you give us some background about the company?
Cano: Eurotard is a privately held company. Over 80% of products for Eurotard are manufactured and warehoused in our corporate offices in Alpharetta, Georgia. Those items for Eurotard and Julie France not produced in Georgia are manufactured in South America, China and Turkey. All merchandise is warehoused and distributed from Alpharetta, Georgia.
Eurotard Dancewear was launched over 32 years ago in Roswell, Georgia. Established by Tolbert Yilmaz, a native of Turkey, the name “Eurotard” was inspired by a European design for leotards with an American flair. After moving to the states and marrying a dance teacher, Yilmaz found a passion for designing and manufacturing new and exciting dance and exercise apparel. Made from the finest quality fabrics, Eurotard dance and activewear quickly became an industry favorite. Over the years, the Eurotard collection expanded to include staple items for dancers: leotards, tights, shorts, pants, etc. Eurotard is one of the most highly recognized and regarded names in the industry. In the mid 2000’s, Eurotard noticed a need not currently met in a different market; shapewear. Using our knowledge of dancewear, fabrics, and a woman’s body, the company founded Julie France Body Shapers. A new division under Tolbert Yilmaz Manufacturing, Inc., Julie France Body Shapers specializes in high quality, seamless, microfiber compression garments that remain invisible under clothing while immediately and comfortably smoothing bumps and bulges and creating a slimmer and more toned appearance.
Monjo: How and why did the idea for shapewear come about at Eurotard?
Cano: Eurotard specializes in creating comfortable dance apparel designed for long-term wear through classes and rehearsals. We understand the need for high quality fabrics that are durable, comfortable, practical, fashionable, and long lasting. Using this knowledge, we wanted to create a shapewear garment for women that fits the body perfectly and shape and smoothes while eliminating bumps and bulges. So many compression garments are difficult to put on, are not comfortable for all day wear, and show through clothing. With Julie France Body Shapers, we use a microfiber yarn to construct a seamless shapewear garment that works with the body, not against it. We offer the highest amount of compression available in a seamless garment. Plus, Julie France offers a unique loop-and-strap system that allows the wearer to attach the shaper to her own bra at four strategically placed locations. By attaching the shaper to your own bra, you do not have to worry about the shaper sliding or rolling down the body from everyday movement.
Monjo: What assurances does it provide retailers to have a decades-old company behind Julie France?
Cano: Retailers should feel confident working with Julie France Body Shapers because we understand the manufacturing and retail industry. We are a time-tested company that has been tremendously, and consistently, successful. We only work with the finest fabrics, machines, patterns, and designs. Our knowledge is in tight fitting garments that need to work with a woman’s body. Whether we are producing shapewear or dancewear, we understand that fit, fabric and functionality are crucial. After 30+ years, we have weathered the storm and have managed to stay on top as a trusted brand that retailers can rely on. Additionally, Eurotard and Julie France Body Shapers employ an excellent and knowledgeable customer service team. Our customer service representatives truly care about providing the best assistance and help to our retailers. Every member of our team is thoroughly trained on the properties of the garments and company so that they may clearly and accurately answer any questions our retailers may have. Customer service is our number one priority and a quality our company takes much pride in.
Monjo: Go into some more detail on how your background in dance helps with shapewear and intimates.
Cano: When creating dancewear, we understand that the garment needs to be able to move with the body. Dancers are constantly bending, jumping and turning; putting both their bodies and their clothing to the test. They need to feel confident that their dancewear will withstand the movement, the washing afterwards, and the wear-and-tear over months and years. By hand picking our fabrics and putting them to the test prior to adding them to our collections, we are guaranteeing to our customers that our products will not disappoint. When creating shapewear, we keep that same mentality. Shapewear needs to fit a woman’s body perfectly, needs to be able to bend and move with the wearer, needs to remain comfortable all day, needs to work in the manner it’s intended to and needs to remain durable after multiple wears and washes.
Monjo: You have often talked about the special relationship Eurotard has with dance retailers. Please explain.
Cano: As a manufacturer, Eurotard is committed to producing dancewear that dance retailers can turn to and depend on. So many manufacturers have begun selling directly to the consumer and completely cutting the dance retailer out of the equation. By selling directly to the consumer, the manufacturer is taking business away from the retailer and is essentially putting them out of business. Eurotard is not one of these manufacturers. We aim to support our retailers by only selling to them and not selling to the consumer. We would never want to take business away from our retailers but instead encourage consumers to shop locally! Furthermore, Eurotard and Julie France Body Shapers offer a unique online ordering program for consumers. When a consumer places an order on eurotard.com or juliefrance.com, that order is automatically routed by our servers to the e-mail address of the nearest retail store to that consumer based on zip code. While we do allow consumers to place an order on our website, that order will always be fulfilled by the closest retail store to the consumer. Therefore, the retail store is receiving the profits of the consumer’s order; not Eurotard or Julie France. This is another way our company can promote and support our retail stores!
Monjo: On the design side, can you mention some specific details that go into your products that came from dancewear?
Cano: Many of our shapewear garments incorporate features you would see in dancewear. Specifically focusing on leotards, we like to design these pieces to have a full cut seat on the bottom and straps that are cut slightly closer to the neck. By having a full cut seat, we are offering full coverage and eliminating any riding up on the bottom. With garments that ride up, they can cut into the bottom, creating unsightly bumps and bulges. As for the straps, many times women have problems with straps slipping and sliding off their shoulders. By designing the straps to sit closer to the neck, this helps to eliminate the straps sliding off the shoulders.
Monjo: As a dance company dealing with very young girls all the way on up to adults, you have a different experience than many other shapewear companies (that deal only with adult bodies). How has this affected your shapewear differently than others?
Cano: By working with dancers across a wide age range, we understand that every body is different. While shapewear is primary targeted and marketed to adults, there are many girls at the “Tween” age who are interested in wearing a comfortable compression garment. For this reason, we size our garments to go from a small (size 4) to a 3X (size 28W). Additionally, younger women are interested in different styles and silhouettes than older women. To accommodate both interests, we specifically design our garments for different purposes. Young women may need to wear a shaper under a fun cocktail dress or prom dress with a shorter hem line or open back. The shaper she may need for this style dress is very different than what a mother or grandmother of the bride is interested in.
Monjo: On the business side, how has the background in working with dance retailers affected your approach to retailers in the shapewear market? How is it a different approach that with other shapewear companies?
Cano: There are many similarities but also many differences between dance retailers and shapewear retailers. In the dance industry, we are dealing essentially with the same clientele —dancers. In shapewear, we have four major markets of customers: special occasion, lingerie, ready-to-wear, and medical. Marketing to these four different categories is very different and involves different themes and ideas. Lingerie retailers are looking for something very different than special occasion retailers. While the idea is still the same — offer the best product at the best prices — we have to be mindful of what each store needs.
Monjo: Your company is passionate about the survival of retailers. Where did this come from? How has it helped? How is it different than other shapewear companies?
Cano: Eurotard and Julie France Body Shapers are passionate about the survival of retailers. Retailers are our lifeline and have always been. Before the days of the internet and e-commerce, manufacturers relied on sales from brick and mortar store locations. The line of distribution was always clear and concise; the manufacturer sells to the retailer and the retailer sells to the consumer. Lately, we have noticed more and more manufacturers deviating from this pattern and cutting the retailer out of the equation completely. After 30 years of continuous support from our retail stores, how could we turn our back on them and start stealing the profits? We want our retailers to feel confident that Eurotard and Julie France support their business by not selling to consumers.
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