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To Victoria’s Secret’s Goliath, Lingerie Start-ups Play David

The market for lingerie is dominated by a single player: Victoria’s Secret. Now, a crop of new start-ups are targeting the space.

True & Co

True & Co’s ‘uniform’ basics line | Source: True & Co

NEW YORK, United States — Founded in 1977 by Roy and Gaye Raymond and sold to Limited Brands in 1982, Victoria’s Secret changed the way women shop for underwear. The ultra-feminine furnishings and pink walls of the branded boutiques provided a sanctuary for women who dreaded heading to the back corner of a department store to try on the basic and unflattering products they offered. “Mass merchandisers were offering commodity bras,” said David McGoldrick, an analyst at Euromonitor International. “Aesthetically, there wasn’t a lot going on for brands like that. Victoria’s Secret made buying bras another way of dressing up. It offered women a new way to boost confidence.”

Today, Victoria’s Secret is the world’s largest women’s undergarment seller, accounting for about half of lingerie sales in the US, a market estimated at $11.94 billion in 2013 according to research firm IBIS World. But in the shadow of this one-time disruptor and present-day Goliath, a crop of David-like start-ups are attempting to carve out their slice of the global lingerie market. “There’s a space there for more fashion sense than Victoria’s Secret,” said McGoldrick. “And lower prices.”

“I wanted to buy lingerie for my girlfriend but couldn’t find anything nice enough within my budget,” said Morgan Hermand-Waiche, founder and CEO of Adore Me, a New York-based start-up that is applying a fast fashion model to lingerie. While Victoria’s Secret only produces two major collections per year, Adore Me drops a 30- to 40-piece collection each month. A bra and underwear set are priced at $39.95. The company has raised more than $11.5 million in venture funding from Redhills Ventures, Upfront Ventures and others. And though the company would not release exact figures, Hermand-Waiche said the company generated more than $1 million dollars in sales in 2012. “This is the first time in history that Victoria’s Secret is being challenged,” he said. “We’re proud of that.”

San Francisco-based lingerie e-tailer True & Co — which sells more than 50 brands, from Spanx to Calvin Klein, alongside its own in-house label — is focused on solving the fit problem. An astounding number of women report that they wear ill-fitting bras; a recent study of 10,000 women by Swiss brand Triumph found that 64 percent of those who participated were wearing the wrong bra size, and, of those women, only 29 percent knew they were wearing the wrong size. “The shopping experience needed to be changed. A lot of bad bras are made for women because the companies that sell them are led by [men] who don’t wear the product,” said Michelle Lam, True & Co’s CEO, who founded the company with Aarthi Ramamurthy, now head of product. “In the evaluations we’ve done, 86 percent of bras don’t pass the fit test.”

True & Co has developed an online quiz that prompts consumers to share information about the size, styles and brands they currently wear — and the fit problems they have. Their answers help power personalized suggestions on particular products and sizes. Since 2012, when the company first launched, True & Co has amassed 7 million data points from about 500,000 women on bras, underwear and loungewear, identifying more than 6,000 breast shapes. “There is an art and science to a bra fitting, and we have tried to capture the science of it,” said Lam. “The team is applying technology in an unexpected way to solve a hard retail problem, leveraging algorithms and data that even the leading brands don’t have access to,” Josh Kopelman, a managing partner at First Round Capital, one of True & Co’s investors, said in a statement. “True & Co has identified a huge pain point in the $12 billion intimate apparel industry.”

Self-funded New York start-up Negative, launched in February 2014 by Marissa Vosper and Lauren Schwab, promises to deliver uncomplicated, high-quality intimates at affordable prices. “There’s been a movement toward items that don’t need ornamentation to make them cool, like the perfect pair of Rag & Bone jeans or a Mansur Gavriel bag. We wanted to make lingerie at a fair and accessible price point that doesn’t compromise on quality.” Vosper and Schwab said they were able to price their product affordably because of their direct retail model.

There are also new players at the high-end of the lingerie market, where Agent Provocateur and La Perla have long dominated. Curriculum Vitae, the brainchild of designer Christina Viviani, launches at Barneys New York, 10 Corso Como, Colette, Shopbop and Moda Operandi this month. “I started CV because I felt there was a void in the market,” said Viviani. “I am a strong, modern working woman who loves being feminine. I see those women around me daily. We aren’t sitting at home wearing pink, frilly, uncomfortable lingerie with garters, thigh-highs, and mules, eating bon-bons waiting for our men to come home.”

Interestingly, Viviani is also launching with sex toys, which are still taboo in many parts of the world, and will provide “intimacy kits” to hotel properties run by both Andre Balazs and Robert De Niro. “When I would observe shoppers at sex shops, I could tell how mortified they were by so much sex in their face. It felt overwhelming and hard for people to know which products are right for them,” said Viviani. “There’s nothing sexy about a plastic box you have to cut open.  The entire industry needs to be re-branded, elevated and brought to light.”

Claire Chambers, founder and CEO of New York-based boutique lingerie chain Journelle says that since she opened her first store in 2007, the number of niche lingerie labels on the market has increased dramatically. “When I opened the first store, there was innovation going on. It got curtailed because of the recession, but now people are taking very small, specific segments of the industry and targeting them,” she said, citing All Undone, a British brand offering contemporary styles for bigger cup sizes, and Lonely, a New Zealand label with a high-design aesthetic.

This fall, Chambers will launch Journelle’s in-house label with a focus on “everyday, pretty bras.” And perhaps unsurprisingly, her designer Rania Abu-Eid is a Victoria’s Secret alumna (she worked on the brand’s high-end collections). “I think Victoria’s Secret did a great job at building a brand and you cannot talk about them without recognizing that,” said Chambers. “[Today] their biggest strength is scale. But if you go into Victoria’s Secret a lot of what you see is padded push-up bras or t-shirt bras. Nothing in between. I have nothing bad to say about them, but I know that when I started this company, part of it was because women told me they didn’t want to shop there anymore.”


Keep track of what’s in your closet.


View your purchases from your favorite stores. Create and share looks on Facebook. Add and share items you already own. It’s so easy to style your wardrobe!

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If looking for funky socks is on your to-do list this winter/holiday season, check out this website. All their socks and hosiery are made in Italy with very good quality.

I personally love wearing knee-highs with boots in the colder months. They are really cozy and cute to wear around:

(pair shown to the right available at

They provide worldwide shipping and reliable customer service in English, Finnish, Russian and German languages.


It’s all about you at galoo!

GalooFor consumers looking to buy products or services at great prices and for sellers looking to list their own products and services, provides the answer.

By offering the reverse buying system (patented by galoo), buyers are able to purchase products or services in one of two ways: They can make a direct offer on an advertised price for a product already listed, or they can create their own request that is sent to sellers worldwide, at a price they wish to pay.

Negotiating prices for products and services is easy:

  1. Buyers post what they want at the price they want or get instant answers on featured products and services.
  2. Sellers receive buyers’ requests and/or add specific products/services to negotiate on.
  3. Buyer and seller agree on a price. Buyers can even donate a portion of their savings to a favorite charity.

Haggle for the Best Price

By offering an all-in-one service, users of galoo save time, money and effort in finding products, services, sellers and buyers that they need. It is this coexistence that sets galoo apart. Buyers and sellers are free to negotiate prices and haggle for the best buyer requests. It’s an age old concept which has at last been delivered with a revolutionary twist into the digital age.

Another Fashion Like: Vintage Cat Eye Glasses

At night when the rest of the world soundly sleeps, the people at The Vintage Optical Shop are grabbing flashlights and hitting warehouses and flea markets. They jostle in secret underground auctions and scour the deepest recesses of the web. The mission? To find the highest quality vintage and antique eyewear that the world has ever seen. After they have procured their precious cargo, they sprint them back to their secret cellar where the glasses are inspected for quality, ultrasonically restored, steam-cleaned, and polished to give them that final touch. Most of their vintage eyeglass frames are ready for your prescription or sunglass lenses and are fit for daily wear. (Please note: there are rare exceptions, please check the product descriptions.)

From 1850s through the 1980s, The Vintage Optical Shop stocks authentic vintage eyewear that were lovingly handcrafted, not produced – giving each pair that character, history and quality you only find in days of old.

I personally want a pair of these for my wardrobe: Vintage Black Rose Cat Eye Glasses

Named after their resemblance to the shape of a cat’s eye, cat eye glasses are probably the most popular vintage eyeglass style. Though they were around since the 1950′s, Cat eye glasses reached their peak popularity when Audrey Hepburn wore a pair in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They then spiraled out of control, keeping fashion designers busy trying to figure out who could create the most random creative designs, with pointy, swoopy wings, often adding rhinestones and other jewels. They became the fashion accessory of the next decade. Though they started falling out of favor in the early 1970′s, They still are the favorite style of eyeglasses for many women around the world and are highly sought after. For the contemporary woman wishing to make a fashion statement and an entrance, cat eye eyeglasses is a fashion accessory must have.

Sweet Relish: the secret sauce of shopping.

I recently found a pretty cool website where you can save lists of things you’d like to have for either your birthday, holidays, weddings, etc. It’s super easy to use and it’s great to easily share your “Dear Santa” lists with friends and family.

Here’s what the peeps at Sweet Relish have to say about their site:

“Sweet Relish is basically a tool for organizing discoveries, sharing what you want, and seeing what others like. And best of all, you can actually BUY this stuff.

We call it the “secret sauce” because it’s the missing piece from online shopping. It’s super easy to check off a birthday list, send a list of classroom needs out to parents, or sneakily surprise a friend with a gift that she really wants – all based on our lists.”

Visit, where you can save all of your ‘whims’ in one place.

Join a completely free coupon club!

CouponCash Club Explained:

There are 3 ways to make money with the CouponCash Club:

1. On the site you will see a category called “COUPONCASH”. All the offers in that category earn you CouponCash Points, so not only do you get the great offers displayed but you also get CouponCash Points for every offer completed correctly. 7500 CouponCash Points are worth $100.00, so your earnings will quickly add up.

2. Tell A Friend – Simply tell your friends about this site and earn 18.75 CouponCash Points for every confirmed visitor you generate. Yep, it’s that simple. Tell 100 friends, and assuming they all visit, you’ve just earned yourself $25, payable by PayPal, within 48 hours of your claim. Why not tell a thousand?

3. You can also get gift vouchers, worth up to $1,000, completely free of charge. In short, all you have to do is to complete 10 offers and get 2 friends to do the same and you will earn a MINIMUM of a $250 gift voucher, with one lucky winner EVERY MONTH, winning an ADDITIONAL $1,000 gift voucher, completely free of charge.

Read more about the details here:

Jimmy Choo knows a girl can never have too many shoes.

And so does the U.K. retailer CRUISE. Offering many sexy styles of Jimmy Choo shoes, CRUISE is a great place to shop for some of the finest shoes in the industry today.

Established in Edinburgh in 1981, CRUISE has grown from its first store selling cutting-edge designer menswear, to a collection of highly successful and influential designer boutiques specializing in high end fashion products for men and women.

Their philosophy is simple – to offer you exceptional service and exclusive style. Wherever you shop with CRUISE, a personal stylist is on hand to help in any way they can.

CRUISE is now recognized as one of the UK’s leading independent luxury retailers with a fantastic reputation for iconic international designer collections, directional street-led fashion and premium denim brands.

Their stores are contemporary style galleries, offering the season’s most coveted fashion products for men and women. Each boutique has its own personality and tailored brand mix, to reflect the individuality of the customers who shop there.

Like their clients, CRUISE’s staff are on trend and in style, offering an unrivalled level of personalized customer service. Fashion savvy and knowledgeable about the brands and products they stock, they are committed to delivering the ultimate shopping experience to their diverse, discerning customer base. Take a look and shop around.

U.K. men and women flocking to Van Mildert as a fashion haven.

Van Mildert is synonymous in the North of England with fashion, innovative product and lifestyle. Catering for both men and women, their stores offer fashion across many platforms to the style and image conscious. They have made it their goal since 1996 to encapsulate all that is new and exciting within the fashion industry and showcase this product under one roof alongside some of the strongest and most relevant collections in the world. All stores offer a wide variety of collections to suit our broad clientele and are spilt across sections catering for young fashion, branded fashion, concept design, and premium sportswear.

They have many great brands in their stores – with Stone Island being one of them. Stone Island is a classic Italian sportswear label founded by Massimo Osti. Established in 1981, the success of the brand is largely due to their research and innovation both in the construction and details of the finished garments and in exclusive materials developed through a tight co-operation with specific fabric producers. Taking inspiration from military uniforms and workwear, garments are highly technical making extensive use of experimental dyeing and printing techniques.

Van Mildert was established in 1996 as a men’s and women’s fashion boutique in picturesque Durham City. Retailing from an old 17th century Gaol, the Grade 1 listed building on Elvet Bridge leads to the cathedral in the heart of the city. The store certainly has character and “Bob” the “tour guide” even used to bring the city’s many daily visitors to marvel at the store, shocked by the retail space they had created. Van Mildert was certainly new and exciting, retailing in a space with so much character and history. This lifestyle store was one of the first really directional independents. Back then Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Comme Des Garçon, Helmut Lang and Costume National were only available inside of London, but now the North East had its own fashion lifestyle store – a haven for the fashionista. Books from Atlas littered the old shelves, home accessories from Atomic brightened up the display cases, and furniture from SCP was used daily by customers shopping to the latest sounds on Rough Trade. Local artists exhibited their work in store and sculpture installations from art students and the region’s designers all had a price tag, adding to the lifestyle concept. Customers from as far as London would spend an afternoon in the store with some of the most experienced and passionate staff who still feature in the industry today.

Over the last 15 years the North East has seen some of the strongest and most visionary fashion retailers in the U.K. The area is well known for its product led customer and is often compared to Manchester in their forward thinking mentality. Innovative, conceptual, cool, but overall fashionable and aspiring to wear the best clothing available. These ideals and core values are what still drive them today. Check them out here