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Elle Macpherson Intimates to Launch Obsidian for Spring

Line will be distributed in U.S., Australia and U.K.

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LONDON — Elle Macpherson Intimates will launch Obsidian for spring, a high-end lingerie line for women and men.

This story first appeared in the August 31, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The women’s collection of chic, understated separates with fashion-forward details will be sold in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. The compact women’s line, manufactured and distributed under license by New Zealand-based Bendon Ltd. features a black bra with silver buckles on the front straps, and black-and-white lace balconette bras with a matching bikini and thong.

The range incorporates luxe fabrics such as tulle, silk and jacquard textures sourced from France, Japan and Italy, primarily in a monochromatic palette with hints of pale pink and blue.

Wholesale prices start at $16 for undies and go to $54 for a black lace chemise. Distribution is aimed at major department and specialty stores including Bloomingdale’s in the U.S., and Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols in the U.K. will carry the line, said Bendon officials.

Describing the concept of the new brand, Macpherson said, “Obsidian is raw and sexy with a sophisticated edge. My intention with the design was to encompass sophistication, style and fashion-forward design with an intense desirability. The name Obsidian comes from the naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as rock which I found on a recent holiday with friends. It has all the passion and life force of primordial raw energy and seemed a perfect inspiration for this new collection.”

There will also be a men’s collection of trunks, briefs, boxer briefs, crew neck T-shirts and lounge pants in cashmere, lightweight woven cotton, and a blend of bamboo and cotton in a similar color scheme, which will be introduced in Australia. Prices have not been finalized. The Obsidian brand for women will be merchandised alongside Myla, La Perla and Princesse Tam Tam, and will fill a niche for sophisticated, fashion-forward lingerie separates, said a Bendon spokeswoman.

A first-year wholesale sales projection was not available, but the combined men’s and women’s lines could generate sales in excess of $3 million, according to industry estimates.

From a retailer’s point of view, Karen Denton, assistant buyer at Harvey Nichols, observed, “In light of the current recession, we have witnessed a shift in our customer spending, with customers preferring to invest in quality over quantity and in more understated classic pieces. It [Obsidian] is sophisticated, discreet and luxurious while continuing to tastefully channel that inner sex kitten that Elle Macpherson Intimates is so successful at. Today, the focus is less about ostentation and more on quality and investment for tougher times. Obsidian’s discreet luxury is a perfect reflection of this mood.”

A black-and-white ad campaign photographed by Regan Cameron showing couples embracing will accompany the launch. The images juxtapose outdoor objects such as a vintage sports car and a wire fence with photographic equipment. Details of the campaign launch were not finalized at press time.

“It’s inspired by fashion advertising in the Nineties,” said Bendon’s spokeswoman.

Bendon is a 60-year-old lingerie company and brand with estimated annual revenues in excess of $150 million. In addition to Elle Macpherson Intimates, the company produces the licensed collection of Stella McCartney intimates.

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