Fashion entrepreneur Caprice Bourret explains to Sarah Blackman why she no longer models her By Caprice collections and discusses her plans to promote larger cups and expand overseas in order to drive future growth.
The last time Caprice Bourret spoke to Lingerie Insight, in March 2013, she was planning to take a step back from her business, not only to look after her two sons, who were born five months after our interview, but to discover whether the By Caprice lingerie and swimwear brand she’d managed since 2006 could cope without her hands-on approach.
“I know exactly what is going on in the business, but I don’t feel in need to micro-manage people anymore,” she said at the time.
Sitting in her London showroom 18 months later, I ask her how her plans have panned out and how much she was able to resist taking her foot off the accelerator.
“I did take a step back when I was pregnant and even now I don’t come into work at 9.30am the way I used to, and, God, 8am sometimes. I want to feed my boys, play with them and do house things,” she says, with her two Chihuahuas sat beside her.
“I just didn’t want the company to be so reliant and contingent on me, you know? It’s not smart business.”
With this in mind, Caprice stopped modelling her collection three seasons ago. “We have the gorgeous Cassie [Gardner]here,” she says, pointing to an SS15 campaign shot of the blonde model.
“And before that it was [The Only Way Is Essex stars] Ferne [McCann] and Lucy [Mecklenburgh]. And that seems to be working really well.”
I ask her whether she’d ever return to modelling, to which she replies: “It’s interesting with this campaign that people want me to come back, but I think it’s more to do with my children, bouncing back into shape and the whole fitness thing. It’s more to do with the story.
But Caprice, who we all know enjoyed an extremely successful modelling career in the mid-nineties and fronted several By Caprice campaigns for sell-out collections, isn’t one to ride on the back of past success. She admits she is tired of standing in the spotlight and is happy to let someone else take centre stage.
“My models have worked out really, really well and I’m happy, plus I can start eating properly again. You think I stayed skinny because it’s all natural, but no – I had to work at it.
“And now I just don’t have the time to work out – I have my children and it’s about putting my children first, and my man, and my business, you know? So now I can let these girls work out 500 times a day, I don’t care anymore,” she says, laughing.
Big focus on larger cups
With every step back Caprice has taken, she is taking two steps forward, injecting her new-found attitude towards health and fitness into her brand and promoting a positive body image to her customers, as the demand for bigger cups and larger briefs soar.
“I remember when I first started, the most popular bra size by far was a 34B. Now, it’s a 34Z!,” she exaggerates, laughing. “You know? It’s just unbelievable – my bigger cups are really taking over.”
“I mean Lauren [Goodger] in Big Brother has worn By Caprice twice and she looks fabulous. I mean this skinniness…,” she says with a mouthful of croissant, “…is not realistic and it’s not healthy. So, thank God, womanly curves are so in.
“It’s actually great to be voluptuous now,” Caprice continues. “It’s acceptable and it’s beautiful and I love it. Even with my knickers, my sizes have gone up. So if I had a size 10, it’s now a size 12. You know what I mean? So I’ve had to readjust everything.”
But designing larger cup sizes is not a new thing for By Caprice; the brand has been offering bras from a size 30A to a 38G for as long as Caprice can remember.
“I went to Moda and the amount of people that didn’t know that I did a larger cup, you would have been shocked. I thought everybody knew. I’m like, hello?”
“So for the Valentine’s collection we’re going to go a bit nuts and we might even get a voluptuous celebrity just to push it,” Caprice reveals. “I started with larger cups a while ago, but just in the last year, the sales have been going nuts, just with my current distributor, but I want to bring more [distributors] on board and raise awareness.”
I point out that while offering a wide range of sizes is beneficial to both consumers and retailers, she would be creating a lot more work for herself. Caprice agrees, but while she may want to take a step back from her business, it is clear she is still the driving force behind the brand.
“The SKUs that we have is killing me, but it’s about the demand and the demand is huge. The retailers have been taking on the full range and some of my distributors are taking on the same amount of the larger cups as the smaller cups. With independent retailers, some just want the larger cups.”
And Caprice is not naive to the fact that larger cups are more expensive to make and require extra care and attention the fit; she’s been in the industry long enough to know that a bad fit spells a disaster for any lingerie brand. That’s not to say, however, that fuller-bust bras haven’t tested her patience from time to time.
“Every single season, even if I have the same mould and the same block, I’ll go through the whole extensive fitting process, because if I use a satin then that impacts the fit and if I have a certain type of lace that doesn’t have a lot of give then it’s going to affect the fit.
“So we go through this crazy, week-long fitting process where I just want to hang myself.”
“Any brand that has been through the same process is thinking the same thing; I’m just saying it – that’s the difference. It’s just tedious…” she pauses before reacting to her PR and me laughing at her dry sense of humour, “…it’s true!” she insists, joining in with the laughter.
“But I’m just so pedantic and so particular about my fit and you have to be because if I have that one customer who doesn’t like the fit, she’s not going to come back again, I’ve lost somebody. So I’ve got to really pay attention and don’t get comfortable just because it’s the same mould and the same factory.”
While By Caprice is growing in size in terms of SKUs available, it is also in the midst of expanding overseas, with plans to enter shops in India and Dubai.
“England is great, but I need to go international,” Caprice insists. “We’re having meetings with India and there’s something quite exciting happening in Belgium. You might think, God, that is a small territory, but there is a lot of money to be made there.”
“But India is the most interesting – it’s a market that’s growing very fast and nobody’s really pinpointed that area.
“The only thing that I’m struggling with is the RRPs,” she admits. “Because you can’t sell a bra with the volumes that I’m looking at for £29 – they are going for £10.
“I’m also partnering up with somebody over in Dubai, which has 1,900 stores,” she reveals, without naming names.
Fifty Shades influence
The big influence for By Caprice’s SS15 collection is Fifty Shades of Grey. “The styling is going a little bit sexier. I’m still keeping my signature bright colours and bold prints, although I do have some dainty, gorgeous, feminine laces coming in,” she explains, pointing to samples in her showroom.
“It’s black, but intertwined with the bright colours because, at the end of the day, I want to stay in line with the trend, but not too much because then everyone else is doing the same damn thing. The beauty about By Caprice is that sometimes we don’t follow trends, so we kind of stand out.
“It’s quite a feminine collection – it’s not an aggressive dominatrix kind of thing that’s coming in, influenced again by Fifty Shades of Grey. By Caprice isn’t that person – she’s feminine. It’s made by women for women.”
And that’s what By Caprice is all about; empowering and supporting women in business. In fact, Caprice uses her own success and life experiences to inspire women through motivational talks she gives to students, entrepreneurs and CEOs.
It seems she may have stepped away from the limelight in terms of modelling, but she still has burning ambitions, which she won’t give up for anybody.