Welcome to Panache week! With our Find Your Fit Event on Saturday, I thought it would be fun to review two new Panache styles, starting with Petra from the classic Panache line. I’ve been eyeing Petra lustfully since the debut, but I am always hesitant about padded cups. My concern relates less to disliking padding and more to the myriad of fit issues I experience, including too shallow cups which create the “floating boob” or “orange in a glass” effect at the base. I also struggle with the center cups not having enough immediate projection which reduces the ability of the bra to tack, i.e., sit flat against my sternum. Considering my experience with Panache’s molded cups has never been exceptional, I worried Petra would simply be a pretty bra I could never wear.
We interrupt your normal broadcast for a review of one of my favorite bras of all time. Yes, of all time. Enter the Avocado Ce Soir bra. A dear, sweet friend of mine gave me this a couple months ago as a surprise. I had no idea what to expect, so when I opened the package, I squealed with glee and danced around my bedroom whilst exclaiming “I have a strappy bra now!” Avocado has been another Polish import on my radar for some time, but as their pricing and quality tends toward luxury bridge (think $78+), I never took the plunge. As a result, not only was the gift exceptionally thoughtful and kind but also a risk-free way to survey the brand for the shop.
A few years ago, Trusst Lingerie began with a dream of ditching underwires in favor of using new 3D printing technology to offer support and shaping for a fuller bust. Shortly before their successful Kickstarter campaign, the company approached me about providing a review of their prototype as well as offering any feedback on ways it could be improved. It remains my second most controversial review right behind that dreadful Eshakti dress (Yeah, I said it and still stand by it). Many people here and around the web asked why Trusst felt the need to reinvent the wheel. Why throw out all of the progress made by existing manufacturers? After all, bras have steadily improved in the last ten years because of increased interaction between brands and consumers as well as through technological innovations which improve quality without drastically increasing price. Why not use the insights and failures of your competitors to take standard bras one step closer toward consumers’ ideal? As someone with an engineering and math background, this is a classic strategy which often yields consistent success, especially in computer programming. However, there are other times where tenacious risk-takers create something totally unique or even solve problems previously thought unsolvable through unconventional methods. Of course, sometimes those same innovators failed too, so it’s a bit of a toss up.
To be blogging again feels amazing! Writing fulfills my soul, even if I am just chatting about bras, lingerie, and walking pneumonia. Today is all about the Samanta Desert A170 bra and how it relates to the ways European companies curtail their offerings for the North American market. Several months ago, Marzena of Samanta sent me the A170 to examine the fit because the bra specifically targets consumers wanting a minimizer. In the US, the term minimizer is fairly well known, and as the name implies these bras redistribute breast tissue to make the overall shape of the bust anywhere from 1″ to 3″ smaller than it is. Most accomplish this through the use of structured 2-ply fabric which helps compress while simultaneously shifting the bust vertically and horizontally across the chest.
Let me preface this review with a note about the weather. When we had the wonderful snowstorm back in January, I closed on a Saturday due to the inclement road conditions. Now, did I take Saturday as a snow day like any sensible thirty-something? Of course not! I schlepped out my camera and took pictures in the snow of the bras on my review docket thinking a) natural light means no need to edit any brightness/contrast issues created by the camera, b) it’d be pretty, and c) it would still be freakin’ winter when I had time to film the videos and write the reviews. While my bronchitis did contribute to the problematic nature of point C, we also must state the obvious. North Carolina took a vote, and apparently, everyone decided there would be no more winter after January. As a result, the photos for this review are in the snow . . . and so are the pictures for the next two reviews.
Since the Sculptresse Candi narrowly missed being chosen for our first bra review of the year to the Freya Fearne, it seems only fair that Candi should be the second. Candi is a new style from Sculptresse and focuses more on a softer, rounded look as opposed to the structured, forward-projecting Chi Chi. When I first saw images of Candi in my catalog, my gut reaction was: “Dayum! Panache has the tenacity to challenge Elomi’s powerhouse Cate/Caitlyn style.” Then there may have been some childish “Let’s get ready to rumble” nonsense going on, but in all seriousness, I think it is natural to invite comparisons between the two. However, since I have never formally reviewed Cate, I will focus more on Candi and only compare to Cate when I feel appropriate.
This product review has been a loooooooooooooooong time coming. First, I’ve mentioned before how hard reviews are when you are not feeling the most body positive about yourself because, hey, there you are in all your unphotoshopped glory for everyone, but especially yourself, to see. Motivation to be in front of a camera dissipates rapidly, but the world doth not stop for a forty pound weight gain. Consequently, I shot this video and planned to review it a few weeks ago, but in the chaos of the move, Thanksgiving, gift guides, bronchitis, and now Christmas, I have had “Chi Chi Review” on my project list for some time with no forward progression. Friday, in between helping last minute shoppers, I squeezed together enough time to jot down the written portion as well as to organize the copious number of products I plan to review in the coming weeks. Basically, I told myself, and pardon my language, “Girl get your shit together.” And I am, and I will, and you lovely readers get a review in the process.
My intention was to post this review about two weeks ago, but if you follow our Facebook page, you’ll remember we spent about a week hanging new fixtures and reorganizing the store. Every time I undertake a new project, I always forget to multiply whatever my initial time estimate is by three, and I distinctly recall thinking while my dad and I plotted out the placement of our new efficient and stylish wall mounts was “Oh, this shouldn’t take more than two hours to hang and maybe another two to put everything up.” Oh how foolish I was!! Even though it is totally unrelated to the review itself, I thought I would share a before and after picture here of our progress:
We now return you to our regularly scheduled review. In my recent reviews of the Freya Fancies bralette and the Fit Fully Yours Kristina, I mentioned how wireless requests have exploded in the last several months, and as part of my scrambling efforts to expand inventory, I began eying the Goddess Sports Bra. One of the challenges of running a lingerie store and planning inventory assortment is determining what to sacrifice carrying on-hand in order to stay open—an agonizing process the result of which customers do not always understand. Sports bras (and to some extent strapless bras) have always been underrepresented because they both are utility pieces, often not purchased until the client needs them. A notable exception to this is the Panache Sports bra which is one of our best-selling bras, and my personal favorite sports bra of all time. As with normal bras, sports bra are available in multiple styles in a range of sizes and fabrics, each designed for different tissue types, breast shapes, and activity levels. Because of this, sports bra could easily have a dedicated department all their own, budget and space constraints notwithstanding.
In conjunction with the bralette trend sweeping the lingerie world, many retailers are fielding more and more requests for normal wireless bras. During our first two years of operation, the stock of wireless bras in the shop was abysmally, embarrassingly low because demand was non-existent when compared against traditional wired options. However, in the last year, we have seen tremendous growth in the need for wireless bras, leaving me scrambling for a strategy to expand successfully. Comparatively, wireless customers still occupy a lower percentage of sales, and even factoring in the demand we are presently unable to meet, I estimate that at most wireless requests would only occupy approximately 15% of cumulative bra sales. Despite the lowness, the aspect worth noting is that before last year, wireless accounted for less than 2% of bra sales, meaning the increase itself is phenomenal. However, the inherent challenge for me as a retailer is to manage our budget for stocking more wireless options, knowing that for every dollar I spend on this market, I am taking away from a wired style which may sell better or faster. Furthermore, like underwire bras, there are multiple sizes which need to be represented as well as different breast tissue types, colors, and budgets. As if the challenge did not seem insurmountable as it is (so much so that I have questioned whether I even want to tackle it all), there is the added issue of finding quality, affordable wireless bras that fit well and meet the demands of our customers.
Earlier this week, I reviewed the fabulous Samanta Mintaka A925 bra, and today, I am following through with my promise to review the other bra gifted to me by Sweet Nothings: The Hana A111. If you have not already done so, I recommend reading the Prelude to a Product Review post I wrote before continuing forward as I discuss Samanta’s sizing, pricing, and brand strategy in depth—all of which I will not rehash here. Also, please check out the original review written by Sweet Nothings on both the Mintaka and Hana as she has additional insights and photos you may enjoy.