By  on October 27, 2008

The Limited is launching its first collection of intimate apparel, bearing the Bendon label, on Nov. 3.

Bendon Ltd. is a 60-year-old lingerie company and brand based in New Zealand with estimated annual revenues in excess of $150 million. It manufactures intimates, including full-figure Fayreform bras, and has two designer licenses: Elle Macpherson Intimates and Stella McCartney Intimates. In the joint partnership with The Limited, the Bendon name will be marketed as Intimates by Bendon for The Limited, while hangtags and the label will feature the Bendon name.

Limited Stores had been part of Limited Brands Inc., which owns Victoria’s Secret, until an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc. acquired a 75 percent stake in The Limited in July 2007. Limited Stores did not feature lingerie because of the connection with Victoria’s Secret, with the exception of a seamless cami manufactured in Brazil, introduced in 2000, said Alice Hilliard, associate vice president of accessories and new business at The Limited.

Discussing the launch of a full range of lingerie, Hilliard said, “We think intimate apparel is something our customer looks for, and we think that to have it in our stores and cater to her lifestyle and the way she shops will be one-stop shopping for our customer and a great opportunity for us. We’ll be testing with our vendor [Bendon] in 20 doors, and we think it will be the perfect time to do seamless panties and have a seamless cami and panty set [made in Brazil] in a range of fashion colors and basic colors.” The lingerie also will be sold on Web site.

The Limited has 220 doors and plans to expand the Bendon collection into more units over the next several years based on consumer reaction and product mix, Hilliard said. She declined to give a sales projection, but said lingerie should account for 3 percent of total store business in the next three to five years.

“We’ll be playing around with different presentations in cabinets in our stores with one group in one store, and other groups in other stores,” Hilliard said. “Our mission was not to purchase a lot of new fixturing.”

She said the “core customer is 26- to 35-years-old. But she really is all ages and has a mind-set of being younger. She is very on-trend, but also likes to be herself. We have a great dress business, and it’s a natural for our dress customer to buy a bra to go with a dress.”

Hilliard singled out a strapless style by Bendon as a key item.

Victoria Vandagriff, president of Bendon USA, said the union with Limited Stores is a “great opportunity” during a challenging economic time.

“They approached us, someone on their investor team,” Vandagriff said. “We’ve now found a home in the U.S. for Bendon, whose namesake brand has long been well-known in New Zealand, which has 20 Bendon stores; Australia, which has six stores, and the United Arab Emirates, which has 12 franchises. It’s a great partnership with the Limited’s DNA because the demographics of their consumer is aligned with the Bendon consumer.”

The collection of 12 styles of coordinating bra and panty sets will feature a Body Basics group that will comprise 70 percent of offerings, while fashion styles with lace and mesh treatments and minimal embellishments will account for 30 percent. Items for spring will include two new groups: Body Lace and Body Lavish with embroideries. “We may have a panty program in the future,” Vandagriff said.

The bras, which will be sized 32A to 38DD, will retail between $35 and $38; panties in sizes S, M, L and XL, will be priced $14 to $16.�

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