(Filed Under wholesale Shapewear News). In the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of intimate apparel firms offering shapewear products: some established bra makers have moved into the category for the first time. And there have been a huge number of start-ups as well.
What does this all mean for a shapewear firm that has been in business since 1945? And what insights could be provided by one of the owners, a man who has been a been prominent figure in the intimates community in New York, as well as an ever-present exhibitor at lingerie shows in that city as well as Las Vegas and Paris?
BODY publisher Nick Monjo interviewed Steve Chernoff, chairman of Rago Shapewear (who with his son Justin, president, operate the firm) about the shapewear business in general and his company’s products and philosophy in particular.
MONJO: Rago has been around for years, outliving many newcomer shapewear companies. What are the reasons for that?
CHERNOFF: Rago gives special attention to the fit of its products, and it delivers on its claims about the performance of its garments. We make shaping garments that really do what we say they can do. You see, there are really are two kinds of shapewear products out there today. First there are a lot of light weight, relatively inexpensive “shapers” which do very little in terms of actually changing the way a woman looks. And then there is a much smaller number of companies that actually do provide those changes. We are, of course, in the latter group.
MONJO: And those companies generally seem to have somewhat higher price points.
CHERNOFF: Well, it comes down to quality materials and fabrics, not to mention the added steps in the manufacture of a real piece of shapewear that fits right and provides the look and the curves that make a woman look her best. We have never focused on making shapewear as cheaply as possible. We focus on providing results. A great look and a garment that fits and is comfortable to wear. That’s why we are still growing after all these years.
MONJO: Rago has kept a variety of “retro” styles in the collection for decades. They seem to be gaining in — or maintaining — popularity. What are the reasons behind the popularity of those retro styles?
CHERNOFF: Retro appears to be in fashion right ow. But I believe it is what the garment does for the consumer that keeps them coming back year after year for those styles. We continuously develop our techniques, adjusting for modern fabrics, modern manufacturing methods and the modern consumer. It is true that a lot of our styling has been used of late in the vintage phenomenon. Shows like Mad Men, Pan Am, the Betty Page movie. But keep in mind we have modernized a lot of them, with looks, with color, with fabric.
MONJO: Rago also offers a variety of modern looks as well.
CHERNOFF: Rago has a huge range of styles in its collection. We cover all the so called “modern” silhouettes, the thong shaper, the high waist body shaper. And we have added a variety of fashion colors including mocha and pink. Every year we evaluate what our customers are saying and asking for and try to provide real solutions for them.
MONJO: As a shapewear provider who has been in the business for many years, and as someone who regularly goes to both the US and European shows, can you describe what are, in you opinion, the biggest changes in the shapewear category in recent years?
CHERNOFF: The amount of start-up companies is truly amazing. And then all the bra companies making line extensions into shapewear.
MONJO: What is your strategy for 2014 and going forward?
CHERNOFF: We have remained specialists since 1945 and we plan to continue to focus on shapewear going forward. We listen to the over 1000 shapewear specialty retailers we sell to. They tell us what works and what doesn’t. And we continually refine our products according to direct consumer suggestions through our retailers. We make shaping garments every part of the body, high waisted, low waisted, capri pants. And our range of sizes is the most extensive in the industry.
MONJO: What changes do you expect in this category in the next year or two?
CHERNOFF: Further increased demand.
MONJO: Shopping channels and celebrity talk shows have had a great impact on the shapewear market. There seems to be a constant stream of celebrity or “personality” endorsements of shapewear products. Do you have any comment on this phenomenon?
CHERNOFF: It has been an effective way to promote for some brands. But ultimately the product must perform as claimed.
MONJO: Any other comments about current trends in the shapewear market and Rago?
CHERNOFF: Bloggers and all media chats bring forth a greater and greater recognition of legitimate products. The consuming public believe the bloggers. The bloggers tell the truth. And they love Rago. Because our products perform as claimed. 2015 will be our 70th year servicing the consumer, and we a going strong. A lot of new people have been jumping into the swimming pool with mixed results. But we remain very well capitalized, financially very, very strong. These are the core reasons for our success: manufacturing competence, knowledge of the market and our financial strength.
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