meets: Bravado Underwear

In a series of interviews, yourbrandspace asks retailers all about their businesses, from stock to sales and everything in between. This month, the company sits down with Sarah Rollins, owner of Edinburgh-based boutique Bravado Underwear

When did Bravado Underwear first open?
Bravado Underwear has been operating since December 2004 and we have been operating in our current location on Morningside Road, Edinburgh since 2007.

What is the ethos of Bravado Underwear?
To make the experience of buying lingerie enjoyable. We want to spread the message that every day is your best day; good underwear is not just for the special occasion.

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What brands do you stock and which are the most successful for you?
On the lingerie side, we stock, in order of success and volumes sold, Van De Velde (Prima Donna, Marie Jo and L’Aventure), Empreinte, Chantelle (Passionata), Simone Perele, Marlies Dekkers, HotMilk, Bestform, Anita and Royce. In swimwear we have Sunflair, Anita, Moontide, Lise Charmel (Antigel), Miraclesuit, Maryan Melhorn (Charmline and Lidea) and Zoggs. Finally, on the nightwear side, we stock Damella, Mey, Marjolaine, Vanilla, Mei Do and Slenderella. We have more than 25 brands.

What do you look for when deciding which brands to stock?
For us, we take into account the quality, the fit, the size of the range and if it is something different to what we already carry. We take on one or two new collections a year.

What new brands are you looking to stock at the moment?
I am worried about the position of Marlies Dekkers at the moment and this has been so good for us over the past five years. So I am looking for something to replace this should I not be able to get it again.

What buying trends have you witnessed in your business?
The majority of our business is still lingerie, but we sell nightwear and swimwear all year round. Swimwear makes up about 25% of our business and nightwear around 10%. Our top customers use us for all categories. However, we do find that some customers only ever buy their swimwear from us and others, only their nightwear. We try very hard to cross-sell, but you find that some customers have a very strict set of shops that they use and do not divert from their routine. All of our categories are sold through us with the same attention to fit and comfort as all of our lingerie brands.

Who are your core customers?
Our core business comes from women between the ages of 35 and 75 years.

How do you engage with your customers to keep them coming back to the store?
For us, it is all about the unique brands. We have mailing lists for each of the brands that allow us to notify our customers when anything new comes in. We use email, text messaging and newsletters, but ensure that individuals do not get bombarded with irrelevant information.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing at the moment?
My biggest challenge is keeping up the momentum of the past year. We exceeded our expectations and now we need to grow even further, which is a challenge.

High street sales have dipped over the last few months, while online sales have risen considerably. Does this concern you at all?
This doesn’t concern me. The shopping experience will always trump online convenience as long as retail destinations keep customer service at the fore. There will always be a need for advice, good customer service and human interaction.

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