Why Do Lingerie Designers...Sometimes Choose Not to Sell Their Own Stock Via Their Websites?
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Why Do Lingerie Designers... Sometimes Choose Not to Sell Their Own Stock Via Their Websites?

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It's been over a year since the last Why do Lingerie Retailers…? feature, and in this one I'm asking Catherine something that's been on my mind for awhile. A lot of indie designers don't get their entire collection, or even all their sizes, stocked by the boutiques who carry them. In addition, many lingerie boutiques are out of the way for the average lingerie consumer (after all, we don't all live in major cities) and some boutiques choose not to carry independent designers at all, for one reason or another. So why doesn't every designer also sell their own work via their website? Catherine's here to explain:

There's nothing more frustrating than seeing a style you like on a brand's website and realizing there's no way you can buy it because they don't sell it and their stockists don't sell it either.

Some brands prefer to focus on their wholesale. If you’re a well-established, reasonably large brand, that makes an awful lot of sense. Production is a business in and of itself. Retail is a different set of skills and staff. Why try to be a jack of all trades?

Unfortunately that does mean if you design a line that retailers don’t have faith in (and retailers are very insecure in the recession; they don’t like to take risks), you end up not producing it, making serious lingerie enthusiasts very, very sad.

Concomitantly, small brands like us can expand the range and diversity of our product lines if we have our own retail, because we can test out new things without having to convince retailers they’ll work, or worry as much about margins when initially developing them (the cost per item goes down when you make more).

The other reason some brands choose not to do retail is because your retailers complain if/when you do. People often think the internet is quite small, and so the idea that there could be lots of people floating about and that you could all have a different slice of the pie doesn’t seem to come standard. Instead, people seem to believe that multiple internet retailers equals internal competition.

Personally, I know that we’d never have been able to do what we’ve done in the last two years without retailing our own products, so from my point of view it’s a moot point, but it's a serious issue for others.

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

6 Comments on this post

  1. Janny says:

    I think this is because they don’t have to deal with customer orders. It’s a lot less expensive to sell only wholesale.

    • Catherine says:

      Actually all of the brands I know who will discuss figures with me (levels of commercial confidentiality vary wildly) reckon there’s more margin in retail :)

  2. Lily says:

    I also had problems finding fortnight lingerie, how I wish they had their own online store! I’m not even sure about the sizing because different websites stock different stuff… Different subject but I’m also having trouble with shoe brands that don’t sell their own stock. Very annoying trying to find a particular thing! Grr

    • Cora says:

      As a size 11 narrow, I totally empathize about the shoe thing!

      It’s so funny that both of you mentioned Fortnight Lingerie as they’re actually a brand I had in mind while writing this article! I see so many gorgeous pieces from them, but if no boutiques pick them up, then they never get made – and that includes sizes and styles. I hope they decide to bring back their own store soon!

  3. Avigayil says:

    As soon as I saw the title I thought of Fortnight Lingerie… a Canadian lingerie company that drives me insane because they do not have their own website and I have such a hard time finding their lingerie in… get this… Canada. Bah! >.<

    • Cora says:

      I know!!! The funny thing is: they used to sell their own products via Etsy. I’ve been a fan of Fortnight for years, and I was so sad when they closed their Etsy store to focus on getting into boutiques. I understand why they did it (so many boutiques won’t even think of carrying a line if the brand chooses to sell it themselves), but I’m beginning to think it’s become a net negative for them. They’re building a much larger customer base than has access to boutiques (especially since so many stores refuse to sell online).

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