In a series of interviews, online showroom yourbrandspace asks retailers all about their businesses, from stock to sales and everything in between. This month, the company sits down with Michele Scarr, owner of London boutique Bordello Lingerie
yourbrandspace: When did you open Bordello Lingerie?
Michele Scarr: We opened in 2008, following my redundancy from ABN AMRO Bank.
YB: What is the ethos of your store?
MS: I look at it as empowering women to feel confident and release their inner sex kitten.
YB: Bordello was originally a bricks and mortar store, but you are now based online. Why is this?
MS:With the aggressive property development in the Shoreditch area, and its rebirth as a tourist destination, we found it increasingly hard to offer celebrity and private clients the personal, intimate service that Bordello was based upon. Bordello has always offered a personal and discreet service, so when faced with a choice of diluting the brand via workshops and sex schooling, we decided to concentrate our efforts online and continue our focus on supporting emerging and couture lingerie brands. With the changing face of retail and internet shopping becoming predominant, we decided to sell the premises.
YB: You have also opened a showroom – how does this differ to the bricks and mortar store?
MS: After a lot of research, we were able to find and purchase one of the last remaining Georgian workers’ cottages in Bethnal Green, which we have sensitively renovated. Here we have established ourselves with a showroom and office from where we offer our Bordello service by appointment. We find our private appointments enable us to provide a more dedicated and exclusive service befitting to the Bordello brand.
YB: Why did you specifically choose to only offer designer lingerie?
MS: Bordello has always focused on designer lingerie. For us, its just more interesting and we have always offered cutting edge garments from fresh, young designers. We like to focus on the avant-garde and are able to offer exciting and exclusive brands with high quality production. And because we are still a small business, we have an intimate relationship with our suppliers too, so if it’s not in the showroom, we can make a phone call and source it for you.
YB: Which brands do you stock and which are the most successful for you?
MS: The Bordello brand portfolio changes and evolves constantly. We like directional innovative lingerie, but quality design and manufacturing is paramount. We are fortunate to have great working relationships with brands such as Lascivious, Something Wicked, Fräulein Kink, NYC SexTrash and you will soon be seeing the addition of great accessory brands like The Model Traitor & Cecilia Lundqvist masks on our new site.
YB: Have you thought about offering larger-cup brands?
MS: We have always tried to offer a large range of cup sizes, but, for a lot of brands, their range is still limited. We appreciate this can be frustrating for our clients and we are always keen to work with brands who can enable us to service a wider client base.
YB: You also sell bridalwear – do you find people buy this differently?
MS: Of course, as bridal lingerie tends to focus on providing shaping and not being seen under clothing, where as our non-bridal lingerie is the opposite; its definitely for being seen and for appreciation without the clothing.
YB: What do you look for when deciding which brands to stock?
MS: I used to stock seasonal collections, particularly as the fashion industry dictates that lingerie brands mimic the womenswear seasons, but in fact, I prefer to stock timeless collections, which look great all year round. It really depends who is exciting, kinky and fun right now.
YB: Are you looking to stock any new brands at the moment?
MS: For some time, I have been following the latex designers who are creating innovative designs with versatile seductive fabric. This is an area I find really exciting.
YB: How do you engage with your customers to keep them returning to your site?
MS: By offering an interesting collection of quality provocative brands with that Bordello aesthetic. It’s also about maintaining the intimacy with the client, being reachable. We are not a faceless brand with an imaginary image created by a team of PR gurus and marketing fantasists. We are tangible; the same Bordello Lingerie girls enjoying the London playground we are dressing our clients for.
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