(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Julie Hedrick, general manager of Bendon USA, is feeling cautiously optimistic this year.
"We had a great May market," Hedrick said in a June 9th conversation with BODY at Bendon USA's offices in New York City. "Despite what we are hearing from the marketplace, we are actually doing well!"
Bendon is best known for its Elle Macpherson Intimates (EMI) license, which the company has held since the brand's inception 20 years ago and can be found in specialty boutiques and better department stores nationwide including Saks, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. Hedrick, who has worked for Bendon since March 2007, was promoted to general manager this March after Victoria Vandagriff left the company. Hedrick previously held the vice president of sales and planning position.
Although she qualified that the struggling economy keeps the pressure on manufacturers to produce an original, quality product at a decent price point, Bendon has tried to keep from having a "knee-jerk reaction to the economy."
This has not been without challenge. When the economy truly started to crumble in August 2008,right around the time that Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, the company had just finished spring season with some bra styles retailing for up to $82. However, it was able to proactively reduce some key fall 2009 style pricing.
Since then, Hedrick and other staff members have been working to hone in on pricing without losing the brand's distinct styling and quality. For the July through December 2009 catalogue, the line retails between $24 and $80 for panties and bras, with most bra styles running from $65 to $72. Higher priced lingerie is reserved for the EMI's Boudoir line, which retails for $24 to $72 for panties and $80 to $138 for bras and chemises. Hedrick reported that for the 2010 season, pricing will be more streamlined, and will include some lower tier priced pieces.
"I think we fulfill a very good pricing niche in the industry," Hedrick commented. "We are not as high as La Perla, but not as low as some of the less-expensive brands."
Last season, the company also expanded the sizes of EMI's bras, with a selection which now runs to a G cup.
Hedrick added that women come to EMI, what she called a true fashion-lingerie brand on the U.S. market, for a colorful, beautiful, high-quality product, and she is determined to maintain the styling that makes the brand special rather than moving into the already-dominated basic market. However, the company did introduce a semi-smooth bra called Procession last season, and is introducing its first smooth cup T-shirt bra for Spring 2010.
Hedrick is also working with the company's Fayreform brand. Although less known than Elle Macpherson, it has grown in popularity among the full-busted women it caters to. Introduced in 2006 and running in bra sizes 32 through 40, D through J, Hedrick described Fayreform as offering full-cup women great technical support in pretty styles with lace and fashion colors throughout. The brand originally catered to a mature audience, but is now geared toward "youthful women" aged 20 to 50. It retails for $28 to $35 for panties and $55 to $70 for bras, with most in the $68 through $72 range. In November, Fayreform will introduce its first Teddy called Profile Perfect Allure at $120 in black.
Bendon will introduce its signature Bendon brand on the U.S. market in Spring 2010 at a lower average price point than the company's licensed brands. The company hopes mid-tier department stores like Macy's might carry the brand.
"We wanted to introduce the Bendon brand to show that Bendon is a well-established company that does more than just licensing," Hedrick commented. "Bendon is a great proprietary brand with the same design and technical expertise as our licensed brands, but at a lower price point option for new distribution opportunity."
She concluded by adding:
"In general, we are focusing on core businesses and feel we are set up for continued success once the economy picks up."
Bendon USA is the US division of New Zealand-based company Bendon.
To reach Julie Hedrick, call Bendon USA's offices at 180 Madison in New York City: (212) 696-4570.
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