Helena Bodas, a former equities analyst, and partner Donella Tarantelli called their girlfriends, telling each to come with their favorite pair in tow. After a detailed discussion of panty likes and dislikes, which included fabrics, colors and styles, their research in the lingerie arena was done.
Bodas, which was founded in September 2001 to bridge the gap between the Marks & Spencer department store brand and high-end Italian label La Perla, opened its flagship store here in late March in Chelsea’s Duke of York Square, a new shopping complex on King’s Road. The flagship joins two other Bodas units in London: One on Notting Hill’s Ledbury Road opened in 2001, and another on Lime Street opened late last year.
With an initial investment of $98,000, the flagship is projected to generate first-year sales close to $500,000.
"It was important to have most areas in London covered," said Bodas. "Because of the [flagship] area and surrounding stores, we’re hoping to attract a younger customer." Other trendy boutiques in the Duke of York Square include Agnes b., Ted Baker, Coccinelle, Jigsaw, Space.NK and Joseph.
The two-floor, 690-square-foot store was designed by Acq Architects. Its sleek, clean lines are modern and industrial-looking. When thinking about how the store should look, Bodas said Space.NKinspired her.
"I wanted to have the same concept, just with lingerie instead of cosmetics. As well as appealing to women, I wanted men to feel comfortable about coming in here, too, with their partners or alone," said Bodas.
Instead of the traditional approach of displaying frilly panties and rows of bras, Bodas focuses on its core private label collection of lingerie. There are only 12 sets hanging, but that’s enough to show every style of bra and panty in stock. Assortments include a variety of padded and underwire bras, as well as hipsters, boy-cut pants and thongs in cotton basics, novelty meshes and microfiber Tactel blends. Fashion colors like lilac and seashell pink, along with cosmetic pales, are showcased, while a number of alternative colors are neatly folded in frost-tone drawers.In addition to swimwear, the flagship also carries two new categories: a four-piece baby wear line and sleepwear, which will eventually be available at other Bodas units and by mail-order. Made of 100 percent cotton with a subtle opaque stripe, the sleepwear is sold as separates. Items include a long-sleeved sleep shirt that sells at a suggested retail price of $54, a vest for $28 and long pajama pants and boxers for $39 and $28, respectively.
"We’re about finding gaps in the market and filling them," said Bodas. "We couldn’t think of anywhere that sold really great pajamas, so we decided to do our own. It wasn’t rocket science, it was about finding the right fabrics."
Dressing gowns are next on the horizon. Kimono shapes are currently being tried and tested, though Bodas is still tinkering with the practicality of a wide sleeve. A dressing gown party should put an end to any lingering doubts, she said.
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