(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Madame Aime, the luxury intimates brand introduced last summer, stands out as something of a test case as to the viability for bras retailing for $280 to $320 as well as the sustainability of the practice of actually making lingerie in France (as opposed to “designing” it there and producing it elsewhere).
The brand, which has an interesting and far-reaching back story, will introduce its second collection, Autumn / Winter 2015 (AW15) in Paris in January and then in February in New York. It showed its first collection at shows last summer.
Madame Aime is produced in a former Lejaby factory, this one in Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon. “It currently employs 31 persons including 19 former Lejaby” employees CEO Maud Funaro told BODY. (Lejaby, founded in 1930 and once owned by Warnaco, was liquidated in 2011. Elements of the brand were later resurrected as La Maison Lejaby).
Madame Aime originated as a separate company, Monette Paris, which was founded in 2012 by Assya Hiridjee, a co-founder and former CEO of the lingerie brand, Princesse Tam-Tam. Monette Paris went out of business early last year. And it too had utilized the former Lejaby factory in Bourg-en-Bresse. After “Monette Paris went bankrupt in March 2014, our company, 7 Fashion, took over its assets, namely the concept and all the creations of Monette Paris,” said Funaro. Madame Aime shares many of the original goals of Monette: “France designed and crafted products, high end, modern and feminine, and the aim of Madame Aime remains to propose pieces of lingerie conceived as and meant to be associated with essential ready-to-wear pieces.”
When 7 Fashion stepped in, the original plan had been to continue under the Monette Paris name. But “because of a divergence of opinion regarding the new start, 7 Fashion was forced to pursue the project without its founders,” the company explained in a recent press release. Assya Hiridjee is not associated with the new label, said Funaro. The current brand name, Madame Aime “means “Madame loves” in French,” she added.
Of the decision to continue at the Bourg-en-Bresse factor, Funaro claimed, “Having our own factory is key for us, as it enables us to be creative, reactive and qualitative at the same time, which would be impossible otherwise given the limited volumes we produce at the moment.”
While the goal of preserving jobs at a former Lejaby factory in France is an admirable one, it obviously has a troubled history as a business strategy. After the original Lejaby failed at the end of 2011, the consortium of investors, led by Alain Prost, that brought the brand back to life as Maison Lejaby in 2012, did so with a stated emphasis on preserving jobs at another one of the former Lejaby factories, this one at Rillieux-la-Pape. This venture has also run into some challenges, and the firm let go 30% of its workforce at the factory at the end of 2014. Another French investor group, Impala, also stepped in last fall, making a significant additional investment in Maison Lejaby and saying it would partner with “existing shareholders” in moving the brand forward.
Despite the obstacles, Madame Aime has already penetrated the U.S. market, pointed out Funaro. Elements of the Spring / Summer 2015 (SS15) collection will be available at Journelle in New York, Nancy Meyer in Seattle, Naked Princess in Beverly Hills, Jane’s Vanity in Portland and Boutique Blue in Milwaukee.
U.S. landed wholesale prices for “bras ranges from $100 to $130. Briefs cost $50-$80, and large pieces such as bodysuits or petticoats range between $180 and $280,” said Funaro. In its description of the upcoming AW15 collection, suggested retail prices for its bras are listed at “between $280 and $320; bottoms between $150 and $210; bodysuits / babydolls between $450 and $650, Ready-to-wear between $200 and $650.” The company’s agent in the U.S. is Ivana Nonnis.
Adrian Diaconu is the owner of 7 Fashion. According to Funaro he “has a background in robotics and holds various investments in this industry.” She said the lingerie brand now has two designers, working out of a Paris studio, one senior one assistant, “who have been with us since the very beginning: Sabine Besson and Dorothée Nadau. They both have a lingerie background and are true fashion lovers. Our studio is coordinated by Nicole Bernardo, who works for us as a consultant.”
Funaro emphasized the company commitment to expand beyond lingerie. “Madame Aime [has] ambitions to become a global brand and does not intend to limit its universe to silk, which was the case of Monette Paris. In the short run, we already extended our ready-to-wear and loungewear offer in AW15, and plan to develop a swimwear collection for SS16.” A company description of the latest collection adds, “The AW15 collection of Madame Aime is marked by two key novelties: The introduction of our daily and modern corsetry line, “Rue Monsieur”; The development of our loungewear and ready-to-wear offer.“
Asked about sales expectations for 2015, Funaro told BODY, “Our company, 7 Fashion, has just delivered its first Madame Aime collection in December, but we are already present at very exclusive retailers, such as net-a-porter.com, or Journelle in NY. While it is hard to make a forecast for a first year of business, we expect a turnover around 0.8 M€ (about $945,000 at current conversion rates) in 2015.”
She added that current plans call for shifting at least a small part of production outside of France. “For our SS15 collection, 100% of our collection is made in France,” said Funaro. “For our AW15 collection, all the lingerie will be manufactured in France in our factory, as well as most of the knitwear and ready-to-wear. Few ready-to-wear and knitwear pieces will probably be made elsewhere in the European Union.”
“The U.S. is a key market for us, as we are convinced that there is room for a new French high-end and creative brand like ours,” Funaro told BODY. “To match the expectations of U.S. customers, we extended our product range with two specific D and E cups bra shapes and a very new loungewear offer. Our sales team is very active in the U.S. and we already are in contact with the key buyers there, including top department stores. And of course Madame Aime will be present at the next Curve NY edition!”
The brand is already retailing on its own website and opening its own shops “is in our minds, probably in 2-3 years from now.”
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