In our shop, it’s not an understatement to claim Elomi dominates the competition. The juggernaut accounts for one third of our Top 15 selling bras which in no small part contributes to its status as the best-selling brand for the entire store. Fashion colors fly off the racks with more people pre-ordering bras from Elomi than any other manufacturer. As a result, during our trip to the Curves Expo, Elomi was the brand for me to see because I know how much my customers love it. Every season Elomi perfectly blends crowd-pleasing favorites with more adventurous styles. Furthermore, the brand continues to extend sizes in new silhouettes and has added some fantastic continuity options—a trend which continues for AW14.
Bijou in Black and Flame
Description: This sweet and simple moulded cup collection is back in matte black with baby pink trim and polka dot bows, or there is a new flame red option with coral trim and bows. A strong look and a gorgeous shape for women wanting a t-shirt plunge!
Style(s): Molded Plunge Bra with Optional Racer-Back
Sizes Available: 36-44E, 34-44F-G, 34-42GG,
Panty Options: Short
Basic Colors Available: Black and Beige
Bra Price(s): $69
Panty Price(s): $28
Release Date: Black — June 2014, Flame — October 2014
Sophisticated Pair Comments: We have been ordering Bijou for customers, and thus far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The molded cups are softer and contour well while the racer-back provides added versatility.
A while back, I asked for feedback on which products you wanted to see reviewed the most, and the Freya Marvel was an early contender. Before discovering the narrow underwires and deep cups of Cleo, Freya matching sets dominated my lingerie wardrobe; however, I found, especially after my breast shape change, that Freya was not as comfortable as Cleo over the lifespan of the bra. Like a depressing time lapse sequence, my Freya bras faded from the wardrobe to be replaced with quirky printed Cleo styles, but when I saw the Marvel, I knew I had to test it:
Sizing & Fit: Many Freya unpadded bras sport a similar fit and shape, typically called the plunge balcony or regular balcony bra. Three-section cups angle toward the center gore, and while the materials change (stretch lace top here, fabric there), the silhouette and fit remains close enough that you can tell it’s Freya.
I’m not picking on Freya for this either because many brands employ similar design tactics, but the unfortunate side effect can be that there are entire brands a woman may not be able to wear. Nevertheless, the Marvel is the first new bra in several seasons to be completely different. A center vertical seam and supportive side panel offer a rounded, lifted silhouette with excellent forward projection. In fact, the profile of the Marvel reminds me of the silhouette created by many molded cups, like the Freya Deco, and the shape is fabulous under clothes. If only it fit . . . .
First, my Curves Expo series has taken considerably more time to write and post than I originally anticipated, due in large part to the time-consuming nature of the blogs. The shop has been busy lately too, which is a “high class” problem of course, but it does make it difficult to stay on top of blogging. However, I have been itching to write something other than a fashion preview for a few weeks, so I am going to give it my best effort and power through the rest of the brands by the end of the month.
While planning our purchases for the year, I have noticed certain deficits in our existing inventory, and one such shortage is bras for women in 38-44 bands with C-DDD cups. Many manufacturers wrongfully assume that women in these band sizes have large busts, and while certain brands like Natori and Wacoal have really opened up the styles, colors, and sizes available, the price point ranges from $48 to $69. Some of our customers cannot afford to spend $60+ for every bra they purchase and would love to mix in some higher quality items with those of a more moderate quality. Not to mention, neither Wacoal nor Natori offer much in the way of plunges or push-ups for these sizes, meaning some customers are forced to settle or forgo what they want altogether. Enter Parisa—private label manufacturer of retail chain Soma Intimates.
With bands spanning 32-44 and cups from a US C-H (UK C-FF), Parisa offers women affordable, fashionable bras in a variety of necklines and profiles, including plunge and push up bras designed for maximum cleavage. One of the downsides we see frequently with cleavage bras is the use of a narrow wing on the side and the back, but with the dreaded “back fat” slang thrown around by my customers almost as fast as “t-shirt bra,” Parisa’s consistent use of a wide, supportive wing is appealing. (Please note: The model is not wearing the proper size. She wears a 34G, but all samples were in a 38DD.)
Parisa also utilizes a segmented collection system where style variations are categorized under the umbrella of a single name. As a retailer, I find this easy-to-remember system to be a breath of fresh air since I am frequently required to memorize nearly every female name in existence to keep track of what bras are available. Collections range from basic to more fashion-forward with some capsules having a mix of both styles.
The Body Veil series, for example, sports several variations on the basic molded cup tee shirt bra including a plunge, a strapless, a racer-back, and a push-up. All of the styles are offered in a light beige (sadly called “skin”), brown sugar, and black. While the use of “skin” is rather unfortunate, I do like how the entire series is available in three basic colors, with a luxurious bordeaux red coming for fall.
As my dad/business partner Jason mentioned a couple weeks ago, we are collecting both new and used bras for TROSA (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers) in Durham, NC. Thus far, we have collected almost 150 bras, the bulk of which came from the wonderful women of the “Mackintosh on the Lake” housing community who arrived at the store carrying two giant bags filled with over 80s bras. It was an absolutely amazing surprise, and I cannot express enough gratitude for the way they organized a private bra drive.
However, we still need more. I spoke with coordinators at TROSA, and we are tentatively scheduled for a fit event at the center on April 27th. I would love to come with at least three hundred bras in a wide range of sizes and styles. If you have old bras hanging around the closet, please drop by the store or mail them to us. We do have receipts for tax purposes, and you would be contributing to fantastic cause. My goal is to ensure that we can fit most of the women attending the event and hopefully match them with one or two styles they can wear.
Thank you for your generosity, and we are so excited to be able to help the women of TROSA!
Since my original Comexim post, I have been conversing with the brand as well as Anna from Anna Pardal lingerie about our upcoming orders. First, I need to clear up some confusion. The pictures I posted in the previous blog are actually from a collaboration between Anna Pardal and Comexim. Below is an excerpt from the look book I received:
When we started out, we knew that producing high quality lingerie is no simple matter, and that without incredible manufacturing and fabrics, our vision would never become a reality. So, we began a worldwide search for the best partner and collaborator, for a manufacturer and brand who takes pride in every piece produced, who never compromises on quality, and who is always looking to generate brassieres that provide that elusive perfect fit.
Our search took us to the manufacturing hub of Lodz, Poland where we met the creative and engineering geniuses behind Comexim. With an illustrious track record of creating supportive, flattering, and high quality handmade brassieres, Comexim is a cult name in the lingerie circles. Our initial conversations ranged from fit to fabric, and when we broke our first meeting to abscond to the cutting room, we knew we had found our partner. Countless fabric samples, customer interviews, and flight and Skype hours later, our collaboration was born.
Consequently, there are essentially two collections from which our shop can order. The first is the Anna Pardal Exclusive line which uses luxurious Italian and Spanish fabrics and laces to craft elegant, comfortable upscale bras like Milk & Honey, Emmeline, and Miss Pam. The second collection is Comexim’s original Linea Artisana line which can be found on their website and Facebook page. Linea Artisana will be slightly cheaper, but both lines offer a superb commitment to quality and fit. Because there are now two lines from which to order, our customers will be treated to even more styles, colors, and prints. Additionally, I believe our bras will be produced on a per-order basis, meaning you never need to worry about a new fashion style stocking out in your size. This development alone has me beyond excited because I often struggle to snag items from our UK vendors.
Right now, Anna Pardal has a cancelled shipment containing ready-made bras, and to have the line arrive faster, I plan on pulling from the existing pieces. Because the gorgeous Emmeline has the best mix of sizes, our initial order will be for this style. However, if you are interested in another Anna Pardal style, please email me to discuss it. Furthermore, we will also be placing a second order for one of the original Linea Artisana bras. To offer both a light and dark color option in the store, I am leaning toward either the Basic or the Snow. If the line performs well, we will expand to bolder prints and colors. [Read more...]
While I finalize my plans with Comexim, I thought we wold return to the Curves Expo series to discuss innovative maternity line, Cake Lingere. The World Health Organization recommends nursing for two years—a recommendation which leaves many moms in need of several supportive, comfortable nursing bras. However, nursing bras, especially for fuller-cups, can be difficult to find with many existing options treading more into a utilitarian aesthetic with a pointier profile. Modern moms are looking for updated shapes, molded cups, and even flexible underwires. In the shop, we often see women returning to work shortly after childbirth and needing a bra which provides the same level of support as their pre-baby styles but also offers a beautiful shape under professional attire. Current best-sellers like the Elomi Beatrice or the Freya Pollyanna, while extremely comfortable and safe to wear all day or for sleep, leave many moms wanting smoother cups and a rounder profile. Le Mystere has the gorgeous Sexy Mama nursing bra, but the size range is limited. What’s a modern woman to do? Why, have your Cake and wear it too!
Cake Lingerie focuses on high quality, well-fitting designs in a variety of basic and fashion offerings, including nursing bras, panties, and sleepwear. One of the staples of their collection is the Cotton Candy series which is sized from Small through Extra-Large and is available in a variety of colors including Blush, Grey, Black, Blue, Beige, and Steel Grey. This wireless bra features a T-back with a wide support panel, nursing snaps, and a comfortable, stretchy fabric on the cups and band. Cotton Candy works perfectly for post-delivery in the hospital as well as a transitional bra during the weeks while a woman’s bra size stabilizes. Furthermore, the high quality fabric maintains shape over time, meaning the bra can be worn for sleeping or lounging later.
Cotton Candy also features a matching tank for women wanting added tummy support or smoothing.
Their bra-sized nursing styles do not disappoint in the quality department either. Smaller-busted moms will enjoy the Mousse collection—a wireless triangle bra with thin foam cups and a low center front. An interior side sling provides light support, and the beautiful flat laying polka dot mesh adds a dose of fun to the design.
One of my personal highlights from the Curves Expo never occurred at the show or even related to New York. After two days at the show, my brain was saturated with new lines, fall fashion colors, and technical retailing details like minimum opening orders and replenishment options. When I arrived at the hotel room, ready for a drink at the bar and a good’s night’s sleep, the workaholic in me could not resist checking the store’s email. Waiting for me was a message from Anna of Comexim explaining the Polish brand not only wanted to import to the US but also wanted to develop a relationship with our store. I made a rather embarrassing, girlish noise which sounded suspiciously like a squeal. A week prior, I told my business partner/dad, Jason, how I should contact Comexim to ask about wholesale accounts in the US, and the “out of the blue” letter felt like a cosmic sign from the universe.
Polish lingerie companies are like the cool fashionistas on the playground who are so ahead of the trends they’re actually setting them. While UK companies are slow to expand to new bra frames, brands like Comexim are taking bold risks with pattern and developing designs which work as both a basic and a fashion item. No one does “beige” like Comexim with their interesting fabrics, atypical color selection, and thoughtful design flourishes. The Milk & Honey below, for example, utilizes a soft, flat lace with touches of rose and cream as well as embellished straps and over-sized bows.
In fact, Comexim innately understands flesh-tones are not universal and that more diversity is needed to represent a range of skin tones. As a result, they use neutral terminology like “Milk and Honey,” “Cappuccino,” “Coffee Flower,” or “Cocoa” instead of the rather insulting albeit popular “nude.”
During the infrequent downtime I had from my regularly scheduled appointments at the Curves Expo, I perused other vendors and spotted the beautiful Tia Lyn lingerie collection. Last year, a sales rep mentioned the line to me, but our budget was limited. Traditional lingerie pieces needed to take a backseat to expanding our inventory of bra styles and sizes; however, seeing the designs at Curves was wonderful. Tia Lyn greeted me warmly and explained the various collections to me.
Designed specifically for women wanting sophisticated pieces which balance a vintage influence with modern support, the Tia Lyn collection sports high quality materials ranging from satin to lace to silk. Most designs feel timeless and effortlessly glamorous, and all of the items are available from size S to 3XL, making the collection perfect for plus-size women too. Furthermore, Tia Lyn created several pieces which flatter and support up to an H cup without compromising fit. Most of the models at the show were quite busty, and the pieces were still flattering. Since there are no underwires or bra sizes, don’t expect a piece which is going to lift and shape like an Elomi babydoll or a Parfait camisole, but I think these designs would be more comfortable for sleeping or lounging.
The Core Collection focuses on combining the luxuriousness of satin with the elegance of lace for a darkly romantic ambiance. All of the pieces mix well together, thus allowing women to customize their purchase to suit their body and preferences. (Note: Some pictures tread lightly into the NSFW category.)
In our efforts to provide our customers with more options to build up their lingerie wardrobe, I knew shapewear would be an important component of our Curves visit, and Yummie Tummie has been on my radar for several months. When we first opened, I had the pleasure of working with Lauren at Natori, but eventually, she left to pursue another opportunity with Yummie Tummie—brainchild of Real Housewives Heather Thomsom. Lauren’s recommendations for Natori always resonated with our customers, and all of my Bliss Girl converts have her to thank for encouraging me to carry the panties in the shop. Naturally, I was excited to see what new products she believed would improve our inventory and satisfy our customers.
Unlike the other company we visited, Rago Shapewear, Yummie Tummie focuses on women wanting smoothing and light hold from their support garments without the traditional binding shapewear feel. Rather than reducing your dress size, Yummie products utilize the latest in fabric innovations to deliver comfortable, supportive panties, tanks, shapewear, bralettes, and even jeans. Previously, I tested the a tank and a Nici brief, but the designs continue to improve with each collection, which is why we are anxiously awaiting our first order.
The first shipment includes the fabulous Nici and Mina briefs. Many of our customers requested an affordable everyday panty which also gave some tummy and hip support, and the Nici and Mina briefs are the perfect solution. Nici uses synthetic fabric for a smooth exterior finish while Mina sports a breathable cotton. Both feature a higher rise and coverage on the hips and back as well as the brand’s trademark hug-like, but not binding support.
Erica, Debbie and I strongly believe in supporting surrounding communities any way that we can. So when TROSA (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers) reached out to us for bra donations, we wanted to extend that reach to our customers and businesses in the area. Everyone that has stopped by the store lately has more than likely seen a box by the checkout counter that has a sign asking for bra donations for TROSA.
“MISSION: TROSA is an innovative, multi-year residential program that enables substance abusers to be productive, recovering individuals by providing comprehensive treatment, work-based vocational training, education, and continuing care.” – source TROSA
The gentleman I spoke to at TROSA informed me that they consistently have 100+ women in the program at any given time. The majority of women arrive with only the clothes on their back and as such, are in drastic need of bras. Sizes needed run the gamut of those available.
What impressed me most about TROSA is that they are not just a run of the mill rehabilitation program. They work with the individuals through elements that include vocational training, education, counseling, mentoring, leadership training and aftercare. – source TROSA. As most of you know, having a bra that fits properly can greatly boost self-confidence and esteem—a much needed boost when you are trying to get over addiction and get back into the work force.
We have been taking donations for TROSA for a little over two months and have collected close to 50 bras. We are getting ready to send the first donation to TROSA. However, we want to continue to support their need for the ladies on a continuous basis. What we accept are bras that are new or used but wearable. We launder all donations before shipping them to TROSA and we do offer a donation receipt for those that want to claim the donation on their taxes. You can drop them off at the store or mail them to us at the store’s address. If you mail them and would like a donation receipt, please include a self addressed stamped envelope.
Help support the women that are in TROSA by donating today.