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retail profiles // classy // bra*tenders


Bra*Tenders - Front


To get an appointment at Bra*Tenders, you might have to fight all the Jersey Boys, a green ogre named Shrek, and a ballet student named Billy Elliot.

Bra*Tenders feels like your crazy aunt's living room. The showroom's funky-colored walls, window stickers and an oddly friendly cat named Moonbeam, is tucked away in a non-retail space in the Film Center building on Ninth Avenue and W. 44th Street.

It's the go-to-spot for Broadway's (and T.V. and Hollywood's) intimate-apparel needs. Owners Lori and Alan Kaplan don't have to think to tell you about that time they rushed hosiery to the set of Gypsy Saturday at 7 p.m., or that other time way back when they delivered emergency gloves to Cheetah Rivera; or that more recent time they dyed fishnets wacky colors for Spamalot. (Those are still nailed to the door, and you can just see Clay Aiken prancing around in them.)

"We get emergency calls all the time," Alan said. "When it's not business hours, calls forward to our cell phones, and we work something out, because no one else will." Evidence of the quality of their service-Lori says it's "unparalleled"-is literally on the walls, where hanging T-shirts and camis bearing the store's praises form a sort of lingerie Hard Rock. "Lori, Yum-O!" says Rachael Ray's. "Lori... what would I do?" asks Cyndi Lauper's.

It can't be hard to be satisfied. Lori says the company sells "everything that touches the skin for men, women and children," and that includes a 1500-square-foot stockroom full of overflowing Rubbermaid containers and another storage closet downstairs.

Bra*Tenders has its own line of hundreds of garments, from tights to bras to bodysuits (you'll spot some interesting ones-Lori did change Raquel Welch into a man for Victor Victoria), and goods from dozens of brands, including Panache, Aubade, Fantasie and Le Mystere.

The Kaplans go out of their way to serve Broadway, but for the 20 percent of their business that's normal Dick and Janes, Lori calls the experience "transformational." The store is strangely quiet and peaceful because everyone must schedule an appointment. The fittings are one-on- one, personal, and as intimate as it gets.

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