EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bravissimo's Laura Martino

As the fuller-bust sector explodes, with more brands than ever manufacturing DD+ products, Bravissimo product director Laura Martino discusses the challenges of stocking larger-cup lingerie and future trends in the market.

What is the average bra size of your customers?
At a top line, we see our sales peak at a G cup. But with up to a 100 different sizes on offer, ranging from D to L cups and 28 to 40 backs in any one bra, there really is no such thing as average for us. Like our customers, each bra is different and we will see our sales peak at different sizes for different bras.

How significantly has the demand for fuller bust lingerie grown since Bravissimo launched?
The growth in demand and awareness has grown every year that Bravissimo has been trading and I think it is safe to say this is an area that will only continue to grow, as we believe there is still a huge untapped market out there.

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What factors are driving this huge growth?
I believe there are two key drivers of this growth: a greater awareness of what a good fitting bra looks like and a better choice available in bigger cup sizes across the high street. Our customers are understanding more and more that it isn’t out of the ordinary to be a D cup or above. In fact, the majority of women do have a bra size of D and above, though they may not know it. Despite millions of women shopping with Bravissimo since our launch, we still feel that there are many women who we haven’t reached yet. As more and more women get now to know their true bra size, our customers will be able to drive demand with us and with our suppliers.

What are your customer demographics? Have these altered much in the last 10 years?
Bravissimo has always had a very wide-ranging customer base. Anyone can be blessed with big boobs so we see all ages and demographics walk through our doors, and it is important to us that everyone feels welcome to shop with us.

How challenging is it for retailers like Bravissimo to stock a wide range of sizes in store?
Extremely challenging! Choice is essential to providing a great experience for our customers and ensuring we can find the right bra for them. The vast majority of our styles and sizes are stocked in all of our shops, as we never know who will walk through the door and which bra will be right for them. We aim to ensure that customers are able to choose a bra that they like, not just one that comes in their size, so we endeavour to make sure stock is available for sale in any location. But it is an ongoing challenge and something we have to get quite inventive with. I would say that one of our main differentials to other retailers is that we put as much focus into the stock rooms and fitting areas as we do into front of house. We have 21 years of experience in this area, so that helps.

How have consumer buying patterns changed over the last couple of seasons?
All our customers are different and need different fits and styles to suit their boobs and individual tastes. Moulded and padded bras are everywhere on the high street and within the fuller bust market the choice offered by brands continues to grow, thus we are seeing demand increase in line with this. Lace is a really key look, which is set to stay, and at Bravissimo we will aim to offer key looks in a variety of styles, as we know that our customers’ needs are diverse. We are also seeing a demand for lightweight styles with lower coverage, but it’s paramount to us that our bras fit and support, so it’s a fine line to tread. Another trend we are seeing is a higher customer demand for sports bras, so it looks like everyone is getting more active nowadays.

Are enough high street retailers stocking fuller bust lingerie?
At Bravissimo we are passionate about choice and our dream is for women with big boobs to have the same amount of choice as their family and friends who wear bras up to a D cup. Based on that, the answer has to be no, as the market still doesn’t cater adequately for big-boobed women. It’s got much better, but a lot of retailers only stock fashionable ranges up to a G cup and then all that remains is a few basic black, white and nude bras in a limited choice of shapes, which are often old fashioned. So, until fuller-busted women have as much choice as A-D women, the choice won’t be adequate and we won’t be satisfied. At Bravissimo, we endeavour to show fuller-busted women that they can have that choice.

There are a growing number of fuller bust lingerie brands launching on the market. Is this sector reaching a point of saturation?
Absolutely not. This implies that fuller- busted customers are minorities, who only need a certain amount of choice, and this isn’t the case. All boobs and bodies are different, and all brands offer different fits, a different look and feel, and are aimed at different target age groups. If anything, finding bras which really work for the bigger cup size range has become harder and harder.

What key factors do you look for in the fuller-bust brands you stock?
At Bravissimo, we celebrate choice and are always open to stocking any brand that fits and supports big boobs and offers a point of difference that is relevant to our customers. We always ensure that we truly understand the fit of a brand before we start stocking them to help make our customers feel amazing. So as beautiful or on trend a bra might be, if the fit and support isn’t up to scratch, we won’t stock it.

Are you looking to stock more brands this year? Which ones?
We have gradually built up our brand portfolio over the past 12 months and this year we look forward to increasing our offering with Gossard and Wonderbra, along with introducing Ultimo. Our customers are the biggest driving force in determining which brands we stock, and these brands are the ones that are customers have been asking for the most.

What key fuller-bust trends do you expect to see in 2016?
Padded and moulded styles are set to remain hugely popular, and with the rise of athleisure, sport is a category that has been growing for us and is booming across the high street. Sport is also influencing everyday bras, with sporty details and fabrics used on everyday styles. Meanwhile, strapping details and longline styles are here to stay for at least another year. Sadly, the fuller-bust market has offered consumers less choice in these on-trend looks than has been available to A to D customers, so we know that our customers – especially our G+ customers – are still very excited by these looks.

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