Adore Me has plans to be the lingerie business disruptor. Founder and chief executive officer Morgan Hermand-Waiche announced at the recent Techweek New York conference that he is taking on Victoria’s Secret by selling high-quality lingerie at a reasonable cost and at all sizes.
“I think it’s unethical to not sell to certain sizes because you don’t want to be associated with them,” Hermand-Waiche said. “By creating larger sizes we differentiate ourselves.” The former Harvard business school student saw there was a need in the market for affordable, sexy, well-made intimate apparel. He also found out that the void existed because making bras is not an easy business.
“You have to design 18 months in advance and order one year in advance. When you order, you have to order in the thousands, which is hard for a new company,” Hermand-Waiche said. “Then each bra is made of many pieces, it’s very complicated and it’s 3-D; it doesn’t lie flat.” Undeterred, he raised the money and set about creating a business that is has grown from $1 million in revenues in 2012 to $16 million in 2014. It was just named the second fastest growing retail company by Inc. Magazine.
Adore Me is an online retailer that sells matching bra and panty sets that start at $39.95 and are sourced from the same manufacturers that sell lingerie sets for more than $100. Hermand-Waiche says he achieves the price savings by cutting out the middle man in the retail chain. “Typical lingerie brands have so many people throughout the chain and each takes a cut, so by the time it gets to the store, it’s very expensive. We have our own designers and get it directly from the manufacturers and then it goes straight to the customer.”
By contrast, Victoria’s Secret charges more than $60 for a lace bra and panties are more than $14, such that the minimum price for a matching set is more than $75. Adore Me also compares itself to intimate apparel company Cosabella, which is sold at Neiman Marcus and Barneys and a similar bra retails for more than $80, making a matching set cost nearly $125 to $150.
Hermand-Waiche isn’t content to remain as an online only company. He is in talks with department stores about carrying his product and believes he will eventually open brick-and-mortar stores. “I see Adore Me as becoming a multibillion-dollar business,” he said, “Why not?”
The company has received financing from Upfront Ventures and Redhills Ventures along with angel investors and employs 80 people. Adore Me’s lead designer Helen Mears was formerly the head of design at Victoria’s Secret. Adore Me is now advertising on national television and has almost a million likes on its Facebook page.
To be fair, this start-up company has a long way to go. The competition is big and established. Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1977 and total sales for Victoria’s Secret stores were $7.2 billion in 2014, with the direct business accounting for $1.5 billion of the total sales. Hanebrands, which owns Maidenform and Bali had innerwear sales of $2.7 billion for the year ending in January 2015, but that figure included men’s and children’s sales. Chico’s launched the Soma lingerie brand in 2004 that also caters to women of larger sizes with sexy styles. Soma reported $311 million in net sales for the year ending January 2015.
Retailers should never underestimate a disruptor. Apple took on IBM and Warby Parker took on LensCrafters. Adore Me wants to challenge Victoria’s Secret and he may just give the lingerie behemoth a run for its money.