When owner Ruth Brennan bought 32-year-old Bits of Lace, she knew she would be making some major changes to the original business, including moving it to a larger location and giving it a new look. Now located in the heart of downtown Charleston, just a few blocks down from the original space, the 1,600-square-foot store features a European feel represented through its inventory, high ceilings and light pink and green interior.
The retailer attracts customers aged 25 to 70 that walk in to peruse the wide assortment of classy American and European brands and walk out with well-fitting intimates. "We specialize in bra fitting, so we get a lot of customers that come in for that purpose," said Zee Patel, general manager and buyer at the store. Each of the store's four employees, as well as Brennan and Patel, are trained in bra fitting.
Currently, Prima Donna bras are the best-selling in the store. "Marie Jo is our number two, Chantelle number three, Conturelle number four and Simone Perele is number five," said Patel. In addition, Eres, Cosabella, P.Jamas, Pluto and Hanro are also top-sellers.
According to Patel, although Bits of Lace does not sell menswear, it does attract its fair share of male clientele who come in to shop for their significant others. "They love black, so we sell a lot of black to them," she said. "On top of that they love silks, so we sell a lot of that during the holiday season."
Recently, Patel and Brennan added Tra La La lingerie to their inventory because of the brand's "wonderful colors" and its reasonable price point, said Patel. "We were at the Curve show in New York and we just loved their product." The two attend the CurveNY show every year and share buying responsibilities. With the economy, though, Patel admits she has had to be more cautious with her buying.
This year, Patel has noticed a few shifts in intimate apparel trends. While attending Curve, she said "It seemed like [manufacturers] were going more toward the younger generation and separated from the ladies that are in their 40's, 50's and 60's for some reason. I saw a lot of bright colors, but it seemed like everyone was going back to the basics."
And it's not just the manufacturers, she said, her customers are also going for more basic designs. "They want something that isn't lacy, that won't show through their T-shirts," she said. "We tried to put color into our store for a few of our customers, but most have definitely gone to basics."
Bits of Lace is located at 302 King St. in Charleston, South Carolina. Contact the buyers at (843) 577-0999. Contact Zee Patel at ZPatel@BitsOfLace.com. Visit the retailer's newly-revamped website at www.BitsOfLace.com.