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NEW YORK — The ascension of the Curvation by Bestform bra brand into a $100 million label in the next few years is likely to be accelerated by key moves: an expansion into full-figure shapewear, and the appointment of former Sara Lee Intimates executive Ray Nadeau to the new post of president of the Bestform division of the VF Intimate Apparel Coalition.

In addition to intimates, the Curvation name may eventually be molded into an apparel franchise, including jeans and sportswear, said Nadeau, 50, who joined Bestform in October after serving as president of Sara Lee Intimate Apparel for a year.

A 24-year veteran of Sara Lee Corp., Nadeau has held various executive intimate apparel posts, including vice president of marketing, merchandising and design at Sara Lee’s Canadelle unit in Canada, president of Sara Lee Intimates in Australia and New Zealand, and president of Playtex Apparel. A Sara Lee spokeswoman said Nadeau’s former responsibilities were absorbed in a corporate restructuring by Howard Upchurch, president of Sara Lee Intimates and Hosiery.

As for the Curvation brand, a line of full-figure bras was introduced in 2002 with marketing support from what the company called its secret weapon: the entertainer Queen Latifah. First available exclusively at Wal-Mart’s 2,900 doors, and expanded to Kmart and ShopKo stores during the past year, the line of foundations is designed to attract a hip, fashion-conscious, full-busted customer, Queen Latifah told WWD during the launch.

Now the line has five control styles slated for January deliveries: a Tummy Shaper Thong; a Tummy Smoothing Body Shaper; a Tummy Smoothing Cami; a Waist Nipper Thong, and a Tummy & Thigh Shaper Long Leg brief. Shaper sizes are M-XXL and bra cup sizes are 38C to 42D. Nadeau would not give wholesale prices, but said suggested retail prices are from $9.38 to $15.76.

“Curvation obviously is a very important brand for the Vanity Fair [VF’s intimates] business, and after only two years, it has a very prominent position at Wal-Mart,” Nadeau said. “It’s grown phenomenally from its early rise because the full-figure category is viewed by the marketplace today as a destination opportunity that everybody wants to own. The average size of 50 percent of the [women’s] market is 14 and 16. Ten years ago, it was sizes 8 and 10. Queen Latifah brought credibility to the whole concept.”

This story first appeared in the November 29, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Regarding the innovation of Curvation shapewear, Nadeau said: “It’s a great fused product that gives good support and control where a woman needs it. Lace treatments give a modern look to the product. Shapewear business has been flat in the market place, and people are trying to find the key to new value. We think this product can drive the shapewear category at mass, because it’s modern, clean and aesthetically pleasing. It supports the overriding halo of what Curvation and Queen Latifah are all about.”

— K.M.

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