In its fifth year, Beautiful Bottoms is rebranding as ASCENO, marking the evolution of a frilly knicker label for young women to a lifestyle label for sophisticated travellers. Sarah Blackman catches up with creative directors Poppy Sexton-Wainwright and Lauren Skerritt at Mode City Paris to uncover more details about their new business plan.
Beautiful Bottoms has come a long way in its short, five-year history, evolving from a brand that makes frilly knickers for 18 year-old girls to a luxury sleepwear and beachwear label for the modern woman.
Founded by Poppy Sexton-Wainwright and Lauren Skerritt during their second year at Newcastle University, the brand’s initial collection of girly bras and briefs, made with tie-sides and floral prints, were well-received by customers of a similar age.
But now the designers have matured into sophisticated world travellers and their collection has developed alongside them.
To reflect this evolution, Beautiful Bottoms is rebranding as ASCENO from this season onwards.
“ASCENO, for us, is much more representative of who we are,” says Skerritt. “It’s a name that’s created from our mothers maiden names, but also, it evokes thoughts of the ocean, strength, femininity and travel.”
“When we came up with it, we had a mood board up in the studio with the name placed in front of it, and it just fit. We knew this was the name we were going to go with.”
The founders have been toying with a rebrand for the last two years and finally got the ball rolling towards the end of 2013.
“We realised that we had to rebrand because the name was so far from what we are actually designing,” explains Skerritt.
“It’s kind of grown up with us and it has actually become more of a lifestyle, travel brand. You have your sleepwear and your beachwear and it’s all about being able to jump on a plane and go away.”
Once the new brand name was chosen, Sexton-Wainwright and Skerritt could focus on rebranding Beautiful Bottoms, but the design duo faced initial fears that their customers wouldn’t understand the change and would turn away from the label.
“We weren’t sure whether to go ahead with it because we didn’t want to lose the existing customer base. But everybody loved it,” enthuses Sexton-Wainwright.
Nodding, Skerritt adds: “Every email and every response congratulates us on the new brand and tells us that it’s going to be much easier to retail and much easier to sell.
“Also, Beautiful Bottoms has connotations; as we’ve developed into swimwear, some people don’t want to buy from something called Beautiful Bottoms, which was a problem, although that wasn’t the main reason for the rebrand.”
So how have ASCENO’s creative directors communicated the new brand story to stockists and end customers?
“So far, the new, SS15 lookbook has gone out to retailers with our brand story. Existing retailers need to know that customers going into their store are going to be able to find the brand and understand where it is.
“So all of our hangtags will read ‘ASCENO by Beautiful Bottoms’ and we will continue to operate under this name for at least a year to a year and a half, until we feel confident we can slowly phase out Beautiful Bottoms,” she adds. “The hangtags will also feature our brand story so that customers understand it.”
As well as through hangtags, ASCENO is currently being introduced to customers via social media and, in November, the label’s ecommerce website will go live.
“We have a holding page at the moment for ASCENO, which is linked into Beautiful Bottoms. Google has its benefits, so when people go onto the Beautiful Bottoms website they’ll be able to learn about ASCENO and the brand story,”
“Now we’ve got over that first hurdle [of telling the retailers about our new brand story], we then need to handle the website in six month’s time, but we’re not as concerned about that because the product is going to explain about Beautiful Bottoms in connection with ASCENO.”
For SS15, ASCENO has developed sleepwear and beachwear collections made from silk and inspired by the urban landscapes of Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Salvador, Sao Paolo and Panama.
The range features digital prints, from abstract skyscrapers, to kaleidoscopic florals in a plush palette of rose, sky blue and mint green, paired with vibrant orange, turquoise and lime.
The beachwear collection in particular is expected to attract a plethora of retailers this season after having expanded due to popular demand from stockists like Brown Thomas and Nordstrom in SS14.
In fact, the range has already had a promising response from buyers visiting ASCENO’s exhibition stands at Mode City Paris, London’s the Lingerie Edit and Salon Allure in Miami, Florida
“We started our swim collection in 2014 and we only had two prints so we knew there was a market for it,” says Skerritt. “So we’ve now developed a six-print collection and SKUs have grown
by about 40%. So we’ve got a much stronger offering.”
“During the summer, beachwear makes up about 60% of our sales. We’ve got a big resort market so we do a lot of business in Malaysia, the Seychelles and Mauritius, through hotels like Four Seasons,” she adds.
“We developed a new line of lingerie as well. We are not by any means trying to be a lingerie brand, but we’ve developed a range that fits perfectly with that travel lifestyle. So you can throw it in your weekend bag.”
ASCENO turns five this year, so, apart from the rebrand, does the label have any plans to mark the occasion?
“We just want to focus on building up our retailer base and growing the business,” says Skerritt. “We have a lot of exciting plans, but, at the moment, they are under wraps. We’re doing well in the US and taking on Miami, which is exciting. We’ll see how that goes.”