Marlies Dekkers has come a long way since creating her first Adam and Eve collection of provocative lingerie in Holland in 1991.
Dekkers, a self-described rebel, said her parents wanted her to “stick with tradition and become a housewife and have children.”
“But that wasn’t for me. I wanted to study fashion and design, and become a success,” said Dekkers, whose company has combined annual retail and wholesale sales of about $30 million to $40 million, according to industry sources.
Her Undressed label, known for sexy cut-out treatments and sculpted straps, have cultivated a following among lingerie aficionados, and her bra and panty sets, as well as a newly introduced collection of Sundressed swimwear, is sold at 12 Marlies Dekkers boutiques in Europe and 1,000 major stores worldwide, including five Neiman Marcus doors, Bergdorf Goodman and specialty operations in 20 countries.
Asked why she chose lingerie design and not sportswear or ready-to-wear, Dekkers said, “From a very young age I was fascinated by lingerie. It immediately caught me by its mystery and beauty. I was only seven years old when I asked my mother for suspenders [garters]. I studied fashion at the School of Art in Breda and from the beginning of all of the projects we had to do mine became lingerie. My work was always very conceptual. I like to design close to the body, which became my signature.”
Dekkers created her Undressed label with a $17,000 loan from Holland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs.
While Dekkers’ lingerie is known for its blatant sex appeal, she said her designs aren’t aimed at a specific consumer.
“I don’t believe in target groups,” she said. “My target is women who are curious, self-confident and they can be 20, 50 or 85. I design for women in all of their unique shapes and sizes. It’s a mind-set.”
She added she is planning to increase assortments of full-figure and full-busted bras and corsetry.
The spring-summer collection is rendered in three groups, all in microfiber: a Valentine’s Day group inspired by the “gritty romance of American road movies;” a selection influenced by “myths, legends and the pursuit of love,” and “the heroines of rock.” Colors are black and white with accents of bright hues. Bra cup sizes range from A to F, and briefs are XS to XXL. Retail prices in the U.S. are $155 to $175 for bras, $85 to $95 for undies, and $35 to $265 for garters, corsets and stockings.
Dekkers was in New York in September to finalize details for a distributor and sales representative with I.N. Showroom at 50 West 57th Street, which is managed by Ivana Nonnis, former chief executive officer of La Perla North America. She was also in Manhattan as a guest designer representing Dutch fashion at NY400, a celebration commemorating 400 years of friendship between the Netherlands and the U.S., as well as The New Netherland colony and trading post of New Amsterdam, now New York City.
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