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“Understanding what real women want and need keeps us on the vanguard of the industry…”
Earlier this year, Salon International de la Lingerie in Paris recognized Wacoal for its creative, innovative lingerie and named the brand as its Designer of the Year for 2018.
The CURVE and Lingerie Journal team recently interviewed the brand’s Miryha Fantegrossi, Vice President of Merchandising and Design and Susan Malinowski, Vice President of Marketing to glean insights about what the award means for the company, their thoughts on creativity and the lingerie market.
Wacoal 2018 Designer of the Year Q&A
What does it mean to Wacoal to receive Lingerie Designer of the Year?
We appreciate the honor and recognition that this award brings to Wacoal. It affirms that even in a fast-paced, social media driven world where trends seem to come and go in mere minutes, it is possible to stay true to a brand’s core values and succeed. We have figured out how to evolve with our customers without ever losing focus on the most important elements of intimates – fit and function.
What factors does Wacoal focus on to stay a leading brand of the lingerie industry?
Understanding what real women want and need keeps us on the vanguard of the industry. Our products are informed by their needs and they have come to trust us for the best fit, best comfort and of course, quality. And for solutions that fit the ever evolving fashion trends that they want to be able to wear with confidence. Strapless, for example, was a key trend in 2017 and we had outstanding solutions for sizes up to H cup. We received significant exposure from the fashion press for making strapless accessible to a wide range of body types.
We also take pride in evolving our marketing to communicate with our consumers in respectful and modern ways. As new generations of women increasing look to the internet for inspiration and information, we are connecting with them through bloggers and influencers whose relatable experiences with Wacoal are almost more influential than anything we could say ourselves. We also offer videos and helpful advice to empower women to embrace their unique shapes and find beautiful and affirming solutions with us. What we hope comes through is all the extra care we take to make intimate apparel she can count on and live in for all aspects of her life.
What has changed throughout the history of the company in regards to the brand image?
Wacoal has always been a brand about empowering women. Making a woman feel her best is core to the brand- it is why we care so much about each design detail and quality standard in every product that bears the Wacoal name. The social climate right now happens to be very much in line with our brand, making this an especially exciting time for our company.
How do you balance both comfort and fit with style and design in all of your collections?
Comfort and fit are in our DNA. We fit our products on real fit models that are size A to I, in New York City. Fit testing on this range of sizes allows us to make the necessary adjustments to each size so that when a women puts it on, regardless of if she is a 34B or a 38G, the bra feels amazing, and so does she. We are in a unique position in today’s world- Wacoal designs, fits and manufactures most of our product in the Western hemisphere. The samples and patterns are made in NYC- we have total control over the process, which always ensures top quality. Through our strong alliances with fabric mills, we can co-develop fabrics- beginning in the early idea stage- with the technical and tactile elements necessary to deliver fit through all sizes. The ability to work on materials at the same time we are working on fit is so important in terms of function. Fit comes first- and we layer design on top. Designs are informed by a combination of factors- global trend spotting at trade shows like Paris Interfiliere, being headquartered in the heart of Manhattan’s fashion district, and anticipating what a woman is going to want to see when she opens her drawer and reaches for a bra every single day.
What has been Wacoal’s greatest success?
Our wearers’ passion for the brand is perhaps our greatest success! We like to say that we grow our brand “bra by bra” in the dressing room where women experience the epiphany of great comfort, superior fit and as a result, feel more beautiful than when they came in. Once they discover Wacoal, most women become lifelong brand wearers. In fact, 75% of our “fans” wear ONLY Wacoal every day. We are very proud of this.
What challenges has the lingerie industry faced in the past years?
Change within retail has been consistent and has even accelerated in recent years. We have seen new brands, new retailers, and new “fit” systems come along. And we have seen new ways of shopping, both on and off line. We know that staying in tune with shifting consumer’s needs and shopping preferences is critical.
Regardless of these changes, we know there is no replacement for personal service and a professional bra fitting, so we will always place this at the center of our business model. It is in the dressing room where we build trust and loyalty.
Outside of the lingerie world, what would you say are your biggest sources of inspiration?
The way that real women live is a huge source of inspiration. Learning first hand from our fit consultants on a regular basis about the pain points women have when it comes to bras, and seeing how our styles can provide solutions for them is so motivating. Many of the best design decisions come from seeing our styles on real women as we fit every prototype on live fit models in our NYC design studio. This allows us to translate the inspiration that comes in these moments into the best possible products for our customers.
What are Wacoal’s goals as a company in the next five years?
We will certainly stay true to all the values already mentioned, for the next 5 years and beyond. On a long term basis, our goal is to educate new generations of women about Wacoal, so that they too, become loyal lifelong wearers.
Learn more about Wacoal
Contact: Joseph Smith