By  on April 2, 2007

NEW YORK — Leigh Bantivoglio is celebrating her 10th year in business with a new logo and hangtag meant to give her brand a more recognizable image.

The logo, created by Paxar Corp., resembles an exotic pink-and-gold fan with mini tassels.

After graduating from Parson's School of Design in 1994 with a degree in marketing and a stint as a fashion assistant for WWD, her "passion" for lingerie and an ambition to start her own brand and company propelled her to create Leigh Bantivoglio Inc. in February 1997. Despite her aspirations, Bantivoglio had no experience in the design, merchandising, sourcing and pricing fields, and she naively embarked on a number of sobering learning experiences.

"I went on a trip to Europe with my mother and saw all of this great lingerie that wasn't here," Bantivoglio recalled. "My dad gave me a little money after graduating from college, enough to put a down payment on an apartment. But $5,000 turned into $10,000 because I found out you need things like a fax machine and fax paper. I still use my first fax machine because I think it's my lucky charm."

Bantivoglio, whose bra and daywear company generated wholesale annual revenues of over $2 million in 2006, specializes in sexy, dual-purpose boudoir fare of silk and European laces like camis, teddys and slips that can be worn easily with jeans and ready-to-wear or simply in the bedroom. But it took six years to absorb and glean the experience needed to become a seasoned designer and businesswoman.

"I started out with bras and panties with all of these crazy laces, metallics and neon colors, and I didn't know how to price or design anything," said Bantivoglio. "The first year I had better stores like Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman buying from me. But I never thought of quantities and everything was priced $400 and $500. So I had to eat humble pie.

"I called the stores and asked what was the problem, and they said fit and pricing. I didn't know how to grade…so I had to learn how to make all of the patterns with cardboard. The seventh year was a turning point for me, but I was at my wit's end and was working 18-hour days, including Saturdays."But Bantivoglio's determination paid off.

"I have three full-time employees, distribute from a warehouse in New Jersey and contract through a factory in China," said Bantivoglio. "My sales volume has quadrupled in the past two years, and my brand is now being sold internationally in Dubai, Israel and Japan."

Rebecca Apsan, owner of La Petite Coquette, a lingerie boutique in Manhattan who has been buying Bantivoglio's designs for the past decade, said, "She's phenomenal. Everything she creates is the pulse of fashion and usually ahead of fashion. Her lingerie is feminine, innovative and different. What else would you want?"

Tanya Killen, buyer of Black Satin Intimates at The Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, said, "We opened in November, and we are doing very well with Leigh's line. It's probably the favorite with our customers because they are worn as crossover pieces, as innerwear/outerwear items under a jacket or with a pair of jeans. I've added her new bridal line which is very pretty and feminine. I love the colors she uses, and the fit is very good."

Tiffany Fuller, manager of La Mode Lingerie, a four-year-old lingerie store in Houston, singled out versatility as a top asset.

"Our customers absolutely love her line," Fuller said. "They love to wear her camis with jeans, as well as camis with tap pants in the bedroom. It's all very versatile."

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