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  • Nick Monjo

Honey Birdette: Success With Skinny And Sexy?

Images for two of the new Honey Birdette collections.

Sexy. Skinny. Kinky. Does that work for a lingerie brand today? While many lingerie brands strive to prove how inclusive, sustainable and unsexy they are, Honey Birdette is unapologetically provocative.

For example, the brand, which was acquired by Playboy last year, has just launched three new collections, with new imagery on its website. The photos and videos for each line feature two thin models in skimpy and revealing styles, holding hands, caressing each other and themselves. In the Marymay video the models’ breasts collide together more than once. Images for the Revel Rose collection show a model leaning back between the breasts of the other. And the video for the Dominique collection includes lots of straps and buckles and topless models wearing black pasties. One model, handcuffed to the other, tugs her submissive along, pulling her head up by a choker collar. These promotions are similar to what the brand has offered all year long.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret has spent over a year trying to move as far as it can from its sexualized Angels image of yore. It’s new “Undefinable” ad campaign avoids sex and focuses heavily on the inclusivity, featuring a wide variety of body types and personalities. CEO Martin Waters noted in August noted how pleased he is about the recent “repositioning of the brand,” adding that “after years and years and years of tarnishing the brand, I would say 99% of what we have done in the last period has polished the brand.”

At Bare Necessities the new ad campaign, “Live Intimately,” also plays down sex. Explained the brand’s chief marketing officer: “The intimate apparel category has historically had a narrow, sexualized view of intimacy that only scratches the surface of what intimacy is and can be. We want to ignite a dialogue about true intimacy and how intimate apparel can play a role in fostering it.”

Meanwhile at Adore Me, the latest press release bragged about the company’s “sustainability, social governance, and corporate responsibility,” as well as the vast array of sizes it offers “ranging from A–I cups and 30–46 bands.” And Aerie’s latest marketing campaign, “We Are Real,” focuses on inclusivity and “inspirational messages from women within the Aerie community.”

With so many brands avoiding sex and skinny, is the outlier approach working for Honey Birdette? Apparently. During Playboy’s second quarter conference call, CFO Lance Barton reported: “Honey Birdette revenue was up 32% year-over-year to $22.4 million in the second quarter, and up 37% on a constant currency basis. Growth in HB was driven by a 15% increase in brick and mortar revenue and a 49% increase in e-commerce.”

Meanwhile at VS? Second quarter sales declined 5.7% while net income plunged 55.5%. And at Delta Galil, which owns Bare Necessities, “own website sales in the first half of 2022 declined 19%.” — NM


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