(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Valens Lingerie is a distributor of luxury intimate apparel with a business strategy designed to increase the profitability of better, independent lingerie retailers in the U.S. BODY publisher Nick Monjo interviewed the company’s Tatyana Ponomareva on her unique approach.
MONJO: What is your strategy for the independent, luxury lingerie retailers that you sell to?
PONOMAREVA: Developing a business plan to capture not only the sales from the first bras sold with personal fittings, but all the repeat sales for that bra. Shop owners lovingly assist their clients in the fitting room, but they need to get back maximum, consistent profitability for those efforts.
We started building our import and wholesale lingerie distribution business by assembling quality European bras that would not be sold online in the United States. After two and a half years we added our lingerie store – Bra Spectrum.
Our boutique delivered a unique element to Valens Lingerie’s business plan. Prior to presenting bras to our wholesale clients, we use Bra Spectrum as a laboratory to test fit a brand on multiple body shapes and to receive confirmation that the fabric and colors are spot on.
Valens Lingerie knows how hard it is to make high margins on many of the luxury brands, and we have assembled a collection of exclusive brands that will allow independent retailers to make high margins.
MONJO: What are the issues with most of the other luxury brands?
PONOMAREVA: First, many of those brands sell to department stores. Department stores run major sales all during the year, which inevitably means that those brands are offered for 20% or 30% or more off at certain times. There is no way an independent retailer can match those discounts.
Second, many brands dump unsold merchandise to discount stores. Again, it is impossible for a single location independent lingerie shop to compete with those discounts. Some of these brands claim they only dump last year’s merchandise. So what? The consumer sees the brand at a discounter and will never pay full price again. We do not dump our brands to discounters.
Third, many, many brands are sold on their own websites, and all over the internet. Our brands are only sold in independent lingerie stores.
Fourth, many of the better lingerie brands offer their latest collections to department stores first, providing another reason for consumers to shop there, rather than at an independent retailer.
MONJO: I understand you do not allow your brands to be sold online.
PONOMAREVA: This is a major difference with the Valens family of brands. We do not allow these brands to be sold online. We want the consumers who love these brands to go to an independent retailer whenever they want to acquire them again and again – trapping the second and third and fourth bra purchases. It does not make sense for an independent retailer to invest all time it takes to introduce a brand to a consumer, if that consumer can then go out and shop for that brand all over the internet. To gain the maximum return for time invested, an independent retailer must get the benefit from every future purchase that that consumer makes.
MONJO: How do you make sure that happens?
PONOMAREVA: We carefully distribute our brands to great independent retailers across the country. We space the distribution fairly, so that if you are selling our brands, you will not find a competing store down the block selling the same brands. And we enforce minimum advertised pricing so that consumers see the same prices at all the stores.
MONJO: What about consumers who come into stores asking for one of the well-known brands?
PONOMAREVA: The Valens brands fit better, and the fabric utilized is of higher quality, sourced from and sewn in European Union nations. Many of the famous, global European brands source fabric from the East and utilize facilities outside of the European Union to cut and sew their bras. Ninety-six of the products offered in Bra Spectrum are sourced from the manufactures that we wholesale, and we have five years of consistent year over year growth not selling well known manufactures – on Philadelphia’s “the mainline” shopping district.
Valens can only be an inspiration in the United States to the plethora of boutiques that have and continue to carry the famous brands to satisfy the perceived initial requests from consumers. We have positively discovered that what matters most is fit. A low percentage of our clients ask for one of the global high-end bra manufactures’ lines. From the beginning we discovered that the fitting room experience is where it all happens and once a client is fit in a bra that enhances their figure, they extol comments of blessings and thanks.
The minimal time and energy invested by an independent retailer in introducing their clients to a Valens brand gets returned over and over by future sales to that retailer. Once a consumer falls in love with one of our great brands, the only place she or he will find them is in that store, or another independent retailer not located around the block. Not on the internet. Not in a department store. Not in a discount store. Not on Amazon.
MONJO: Can you provide a summary of some of the brands you carry.
PONOMAREVA: Our manufacturing partners include Corin, Ewa Bien, Sermija, Leilieve by Manicardi, Ivette Bridal and Obsessive, offering size ranges from 28 to 48 band and A to L cup. All the brands are designed and made in Europe: Poland, Lithuania, Spain and Italy.
Corin, the famous Polish brand, is a mainstay at Valens, offering a wide range of bra and other intimate apparel styles, as well as a full complement of sizes. A focus of the brand is to produce supportive bras that are also good for breast health.
Ewa Bien is another Polish brand we carry, a 30 year old family business, with excellent fitting bras and briefs emphasizing femininity, class and style. Ewa Bien utilizes the latest manufacturing techniques and the lace and embroidery, tulle and accessories come from the same sources as those used by well-known global lingerie brands. Sizes range 30 D to 42 G.
Sermija Lingerie, is a Lithuanian brand launched in 1994 that focuses on comfort and quality production and specializes in large size bras in a wide variety of sizes.
The Ivette Bridal collection is produced in Barcelona, using fabrics and laces from Italy, France, Austria and Switzerland to create a new collection. The unique designs are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles.
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