For 60 years, Parisian lingerie brand Aubade has been developing luxury lingerie for a devoted but small audience, made up almost entirely of French customers. But all this could be about to change when the label launches its ‘Parlez-vous Aubade?’ campaign, inviting international markets to communicate with the brand.
French heritage brand Aubade has set its sights on expanding its presence in international markets, including the UK, following an internal shake-up.
The luxury label, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, invited trade press to its Paris headquarters in November to present a new communication strategy and explain its plans to bring classic French lingerie to the rest of Europe.
Deputy general manager Martina Brown has been on a mission to internationalise the brand since she joined the company two years ago, and in 2017, her plans were set in motion.
“Unfortunately, being small, the company was never really able to expand into all the other European markets, so we’re trying to do that now at a grass-roots level,” explained Brown, in an exclusive interview with Lingerie Insight.
“We want to take this wonderful diamond that has been created here and make it known and to internationalise it.”
Located at 10 rue du Colonel Driant in the 1st district, right in the heart of the City of Light, Aubade has been creating Parisian-style lingerie collections since 1958, famous today for their luscious, round cleavages thanks to the iconic half-cup bra.
At this address, a team of over 120 people, including designers, modellers, pattern makers, marketing managers etc, work with the same creative direction, united around common values: quality, elegance and mischievousness, with a certain ‘French touch’.
“It’s our 60th anniversary, but the company was actually founded in 1875. In the 19th century, there were all the traditional French corsetry makers, which were starting to use French laces,” said Brown.
“Aubade, although it didn’t operate under this name at the time, was one of these companies, founded by a doctor, that produced corsets and shapewear until 1920. It was then sold to the Pasquier family who continued until 1958, when the son, Claude Pasquier, launched the Aubade brand with French feminine lingerie.
“That’s the foundation of the brand and I think that’s important because we are part of the history of French corsetry, which is very famous worldwide. There were all these brands – Chantelle, Simone Pérèle, Lise Charmel – which were all launched around the same time and each of them found their own way,” Brown continued.
“We also had our own USP because in 1963 we launched the first printed lingerie set. We are still famous for developing prints every season because they are expected from us. We were also the most famous in the 60s and 70s for our publicity campaigns, and we are still known for them now.”
In terms of Aubade’s communication strategy and image, the label has come a long way since the 60s and 70s.
“We always had a very specific style of communication, which was a little bit provocative, with an Avant-garde twist. The first campaign featured a man and a woman, with the man commenting on her bra. This was a time when lingerie was no longer hidden and became more than just for a woman. It really started to have a seductive side,” said Brown.
“In 1992, Aubade launched its first ‘lesson in seduction’. In the campaigns, the image was always black and white and the face was covered. This was the handwriting which we kept for 25 years and along with these images, there was a lesson in seduction. This is why the brand is so famous in France.”
For a quarter of a century, Aubade has been teaching the French market about seduction with its famous “Lessons in Seduction” campaign, but the brand wanted to shake things up for its 60th anniversary.
In new ads, lessons are replaced with sensual body language, evoking emotion and desire.
“The Lessons in Seduction campaign isn’t very modern anymore so we have launched the new ‘Parlez-vous Aubade?’ bill board campaign, with the hashtag #SpeakAubade,” Brown explained.
“This is an invitation for customers to think about what it means to speak Aubade. It opens a whole new world of communication to global customers,” she continued.
“Over the next few years, Aubade will share its creative Parisian expertise with the rest of the world. Ad campaigns will spread French-style chic, top-quality materials and the very essence of Parisian lingerie far beyond our borders.”
Alongside the development of the campaign, Aubade has come up with three strategic pillars – adapting its sizing with bigger cups and smaller backs; launching permanent basic lines and reinforcing its luxury erotic range; and innovating components and materials to modernise its collections and improve comfort.
“We have already made a lot of progress with this,” said Brown. “Our sizes now range from 32-40E, 30-40F and 32-36G.”
“We have identified the most important values of the brand and I think what I’ve done is paradoxically reinforced the ‘Frenchness’ of Aubade. This can be seen in our new concept design within our Paris boutique on Rue Tronchet,” Brown continued. “And in the style of our products, the collections are worked with more details, more refinement.”
Aubade has also recently employed PR agencies to share these messages with Europe and poached Pierre Garnier, the former international business director at Vanity Fair Brands Europe (VFB), and Carol Johnson, ex-country manager for the UK and Ireland at VFB, to come on board in the same roles.
“[Garnier] will approach new clients, and make us known outside of France. But he needed the products first, so that’s why we had to wait until now. Harrods, for example, works mainly with basics,” Brown said. “We are making progress but, of course, distribution takes time.”