INTERVIEW: Skiny MD Christian Stolba

The moment has finally arrived. Skiny Bodywear managing director Christian Stolba talks exclusively to Kat Slowe about launching the brand in the UK and its exciting new AW12 campaign featuring Lizzy Jagger.

"Lizzy Jagger in Skiny, as the ambassador for the brand, will be the biggest lingerie story for the UK for Autumn Winter 2012,” exclaims Skiny Bodywear managing director Christian Stolba.

Skiny, which was founded in 1986, is owned by Huber Holding, the Austrian umbrella company for the Hanro and Huber labels. It is also a sister company to Courtaulds UK, which will bring the Skiny brand to market in the UK.

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In addition to its flagship store in Vienna, Skiny garments are now to be found in more than 320 department stores, 80-Huber owned shops and 60 Skiny partner stores in the EEC. This is not to mention the approximate 550 concept stores in Europe and beyond.

Advertising campaigns featuring top international models and actors such as Laetitia Casta, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen and Til Schweiger have contributed greatly to raising awareness of the brand since its foundation.

Yet, if not for Stolba, who joined Skiny as managing director just four months ago, the new AW12 campaign – potentially its best to date – may never have reached the UK market.

“I said ‘great, so we are going to the UK then?’” says Stolba. “They said, ‘not really’. I said, ‘come on guys, I mean we have Lizzy Jagger and we are not going to the UK?’ And, that’s when I basically pushed the whole team to include the UK in the expansion circuit. You will never get a better ambassador for the UK than Lizzy Jagger.”

The new Skiny Autumn/Winter 2012 images, shot by Fritz Hauswirth, are part of the third stage of the brand’s Who Cares campaign and depict Lizzy wearing all her favoured new styles, which she actually picked herself from the Skiny range.

Staged in a train compartment, the shoot tells the story of a young woman who one day simply decides to set out on an adventure. On her travels she meets other people and finds herself.

“Skiny is personal, genuine, authentic and spontaneous – just like Lizzy,” Stolba says. “She started her career in modelling at the age of 14, and now flies all over the world to appear in shoots.

“Lizzy is a woman who lives life as she likes, following the example set to her by her parents, and who, now aged 27, is sufficiently self-confident to have posed for Playboy. .. Who cares? Lizzy and Skiny – a perfect match.

“Can you imagine the publicity and the exposure, especially in the UK, of having Lizzy Scarlet Jagger as the face and the body of the 2012 Autumn/Winter campaign?”

The daughter of rock and roll legend Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall – Lizzy Jagger is certainly likely to make an impression.

And, with big names such as Victoria’s Secret entering into to the UK market, this year, and a number of major retailers expanding their private label ranges, exposure is key to any brand’s success.

“It is certainly an increasingly competitive market,” Stolba says. “And we believe this will actually assist in ensuring Skiny stands out.

“The UK market is one of the most mature and sophisticated lingerie markets in the world. However, private label has increased its market share in the past number of years versus traditional brands. This has also happened in other markets, but at a lesser level.”

January’s Salon International de la Lingerie was the platform for the brand’s launch in the UK and France, and at it the brand met with a series of potential new accounts.

The stand, which was designed to look like a train station, made a huge impression on visitors, while also effectively reflecting the new theme. At the show, Skiny also unveiled its new size range, which now goes up to an E cup, something that Stolba hopes will be attractive to UK stockists.

“By getting Courtaulds in the boat,” he adds, “they obviously have a lot of fitting competence for the UK market, so they will be able to give us market specific advice on how to make Skiny fit even better for the UK customer.”

Skiny will now be focusing on following up on leads gained from the show with appointments to view the collections and the launch campaign at the Courtauld’s Showroom in Portman Close, London.
It will be focusing on national accounts, department stores, high street and internet retailers to ensure that the brand has the most appropriate market penetration.

In 2012, Skiny will also be working with its key retail partners to maximise the impact of the Lizzy Jagger campaign through advertising and PR, window and in-store displays, in order to drive traffic and sales.

The brand has a new shop in shop (SIS), which its plans to showcase as a lifestyle orchestration in a number of key accounts.

“It is not just boring racks of shelves,” Stolba elaborates, “It is a mood we are setting, a scenery.”

This is one of multiple merchandising options, which include a fully integrated POS (point of sale), featuring Lizzy Jagger.

All of this should combine to make Skiny a very attractive prospect to retailers, according to Stolba, who is more than capable of identifying the brand’s additional unique selling points.

“Apart from the high profile Lizzy Jagger campaign?” he questions. “Apart from the Skiny core competence of perfect fit? Apart from the Vertical production of its carefully selected materials? Apart from its core competence in cotton? Apart from its extensive essential range of never out of stock styles and shapes? Apart from its mix and match concept between the day and sleepwear, aqua and loungewear? Apart from its seasonal colour themes? Apart from its ‘Part of Life’ communication?” It seems a perfect fit.

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