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Victoria’s Secret controls the majority of the lingerie market.
Victoria’s Secret’s bras, which generally retail from $50-$60, are inexpensive compared with independent lingerie retailers’ products.
In a recent report on Racked, Arabelle Sicardi spoke to several independent lingerie designers, many of whom must charge much more for their products than Victoria’s Secret.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: it costs a lot of money to produce cheap bras, and independent designers typically do not have that sort of cash flow.
Still, that doesn’t make it any easier for consumers. A steep price tag for something so skimpy is jarring. (“Why is this strip of fabric that barely covers my nipples $95 dollars?” Sicardi implores.)
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Independent retailers, however, often produce their products locally. This leads to higher costs. A mass market retailer like Macy’s or Victoria’s Secret, Sicardi explains, can outsource.
“People look at a garment and say, ‘Oh, this is so much more than I would pay at Macy’s’ – and of course it is, it definitely is! Costs in New York to produce something are higher than costs in Bangladesh, where things in Macy’s are produced,” independent designer Angela Friedman told Racked. “Marketing, shipping, credit processing, packaging, website costs … In every single garment, it is your basic cost of what you actually see in the fabric, plus a little to cover overhead and expenses. And don’t forget all the taxes.”
In fact, many independent designers aren’t even profiting.
“I’m not even making any money from this,” Friedman told Racked.
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In order to succeed in a business that’s so expensive – where behemoths like Victoria’s Secret rule – you’ve got to either have investments backing you, find a particular niche, or figure out a way to cut costs.
Sicardi points to Negative Underwear, which keeps costs down by foregoing fancy designs.
Adore Me has circumvented excessively high prices by being a strictly e-commerce retailer. But the company also considers itself the fast fashion of lingerie – so it’s in a different boat than independent designers are.
In the world of independent design, that’s not possible.
“But while we’re being honest, let’s talk about what’s feasible for a new brand, and acknowledge the business reality that cheap bras are something only a few global conglomerates can actually afford,” Cora Harrington of The Lingerie Addict said to Racked. “Independent design is a different world, and the story is so much more complex than it’s given due.”