Growing Coco de Mer plans V&A collab, deepens Rankin relationship
Luxury lingerie brand Coco de Mer is growing as it approaches the end of its first year under independent ownership with sales rising in its boutiques and its wholesale business expanding fast. The latter rose over 150% in the latest season compared to the previous season.
Company chief Lucy Litwack, who bought the brand exactly a year ago from the Lovehoney Group, told Fashion Network that she’s “really happy with the way the business is progressing” and “we are entering new markets and partnering with new retailers in territories as diverse as the US, Middle East, China and Europe."
Her aim is to turn the label into “a true, global luxury brand,” while also making the most of the high-end erotica trend in lingerie. And she believes that this is an achievable aim, saying: “Coco de Mer has always punched above its weight but I still believe it is yet to realise its full potential. It has been considered a niche brand in the past but it has the potential to be so much more.”
There will certainly be challenges ahead with Litwack having gone it virtually alone in acquiring the brand (apart from a unnamed investor) so she hasn’t got a giant, deep-pocketed corporation behind her as many expanding labels have.
But the firm still has plenty of funds after its buyout and she said that “after three years at the helm and an entire career in the lingerie industry, I knew that Coco de Mer was the brand I wanted to own and grow."
She added: “It is always going to be a challenge to look for investment for any business, particularly if you want to make sure that the partner understands and appreciates the brand and your vision. In the end, I decided to go it alone to allow for complete control and truly to ensure the integrity of the brand.”
Having that control has allowed the brand to forge ahead with its growth plans without having a heavy corporate structure to wade through in order to make decisions.
Litwack took the strategic decision to target a new customer last autumn season with the diffusion line, Reign by Coco de Mer, and this is also growing fast. “It brings the design aesthetic of Coco de Mer to a younger customer at a more accessible price point,” she said. “This collection is now available through Asos and Very.co.uk as well as multiple outlets in Asia and the Middle East and we have some other exciting projects in the pipeline - but nothing I can reveal yet.”
One future project we do know about is an interesting collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum, which isn’t necessarily the kind of organisation that an erotic lingerie brand would be expected to have on its list of potential link-ups.
“We have developed a beautiful and opulent lingerie collection inspired by artefacts from their incredible archive,” she said, although full details are under wraps until the launch in August.
Linking up with major names in the arts is important to the brand generally and the company is also “laying the groundwork for more strategic work with Rankin that we are both really excited about,” she said, again with more details to come later.
The company has what Litwack describes as a “very close relationship” with the photographer and his work adds an extra edge to the brand’s creative campaigns. “The on-going campaign work is important because it creates the visual language for how we communicate with our customer,” she explained. “Rankin has supported us for years and he is a great partner to me in developing the visual aspect of the brand. He inspires me with his ideas and passion for our brand and our products.”
Of course, having big names like the V&A and Rankin on board is hugely helpful to any independent brand, which is why its link-up with celebrity Pamela Anderson was also crucial.
“We have collaborated with Pamela for the last year which was so much fun - she is so passionate about Coco de Mer,” Litwack said. “Together we worked on an inspiring Valentine’s film, a co-branded lingerie collection and our first ‘An Icon, in our Icons' shoot. It’s really important for us as a brand that we continue to grow and develop and be involved in the culture around us.”
The beneficial effect of a link to big names is something she learned early on with her previous history having shown how important a high profile is. Having worked at Victoria’s Secret, at La Perla and with David Beckham when he launched his H&M line, she has experience of some of the biggest names on the planet in the intimates field. And they’re all names who know how to make the most of publicity, of celebrity connections, as well as the importance of establishing a defined image and point of difference.
“I believe in the power of cumulative experiences, and the influence of great leaders, over the course of a life and career. I would not be where I am now without everything that has come before this,” she said. “Victoria’s Secret unleashed the power of “sexy” on the world, at a time when no one expected that kind of message or offering, and they did it in a way that was accessible to everyone. La Perla, on the other hand, is a decades-old Italian lingerie lifestyle brand which is one of the few historical fashion houses founded by a woman. Long ago, they redefined what lingerie meant to women.
“The Beckhams, when I worked with them and even more so now, are mutual powerhouses in their approach to their personal brands and how they so successfully bring those brands to life, in the fashion world, and for the consumer. Each of these brands puts the customer first and at Coco de Mer we do the same,” she added.
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