A new lingerie retailer uses events, pop-up shops and a digital-first strategy to create opportunities outside of e-commerce that make the product accessible.
Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is the largest retailer of women’s intimate apparel in the US, controlling around 35 percent of the market. While startups, like AdoreMe and True & Co have tried to capture a share of the market, none have come close to toppling Victoria Secret’s dominance. Michelle Cordeiro-Grant, who once worked as a merchant director at Victoria’s Secret, believes the best way to compete is to make lingerie that women actually wanted to wear. According to Grant, Victoria’s Secret focused on fantasy, instead of real life, because the company was run largely by men. She thereby started her own company, called Lively, which produces bras and underwear designed for real life.
Lively’s products are inspired by swimwear and the athleisure trend, with sporty cuts and comfortable materials. These are augmented with modern prints and breathable lace trim. Lively uses Instagram influencer marketing strategies, and raised 5.5 million USD from several angel investors. However, the company really took off after it began to sell through experiential pop-up shops. Lively has begun holding pop-up events across the country. Grant hopes to build a loyal and engaged customer base without investing in traditional bricks and mortar.
Each Lively pop-up has a strict budget of around 12,000 USD in total expenses, and is customised to celebrate the host city. Instead of a girly, boudoir look, the pop-ups feature white, open spaces with clean lines and natural wood. The shops also innovate by offering all bras at a fixed price of 35 USD. This allows shoppers to focus less on affordability and more on the brand. We have recently seen a number of retail innovations that have a similar experiential focus. These have included a hyper-connected mall and a fashion brand that has issued its own, women’s-only currency. Will Lively prove that experiential retail models can pay off?