LOS ANGELES — Intimates giant Bendon has found a new body to replace The Body.
German model and burgeoning business mogul Heidi Klum, 41, will be creative director and ad campaign model for the New Zealand-based company’s newest celebrity licensed line, Heidi Klum Intimates, launching worldwide in January.
As reported in WWD, Bendon and Australian model Elle Macpherson, 50, will part ways at year’s end, a quarter-century after Macpherson, also known as The Body, set the standard for celebrity lingerie and parlayed her three licensed lines into a $150 million business for Bendon, which has an estimated annual volume of $750 million. Macpherson will continue her line with new partners.
Landing Klum, who has a global and multigenerational fan base that includes 2.54 million Twitter followers and seven million Facebook followers, is a coup for Bendon because the potential to maintain the base built by its Macpherson line and grow beyond its native Australia and New Zealand market is huge.
According to Bendon, Klum was the first and only personality approached about replacing Macpherson.
“I have many companies that come to me, but I wanted to be with someone who was as big as them, as established as them, as successful as them. You know, 25 years, that’s quite an empire and that’s quite an amazing business that Elle has created with Bendon,” said Klum last week during a break from the campaign shoot in Los Angeles. “I feel like with all the social media that I have, with the campaigns that we do, I hope that people will hear that I took over and I hope that they’re happy about it. It wasn’t me knocking at the door saying I want to take over. It was offered to me.”
The multitasking model and mother of four already appears on three television shows, was one of Victoria’s Secret’s most famous runway “angels,” has a kids’ line with Babies ‘R’ Us, has designed jewelry and Birkenstocks and has her own fragrance. “People always think, ‘Oh, everything already exists.’ But it’s not true,” said Klum. “There’s always something. I have a little hamster in my brain that’s always running.”
“It’s unique to be able to take a brand and convert it to another name that you believe will grow the line exponentially,” said Justin Davis-Rice, chief executive officer of Bendon, noting that Elle Macpherson represents 20 percent of the company’s business. Other licensed and in-house brands include Stella McCartney, Pleasure State, Evollove, Lovable, Davenport, Fayreform, Hickory and Bendon Man. These retail in 34 countries but the largest global retailer is Bendon’s 60 company-owned stores in the Australasian region.
“I expect the brand to grow immediately by at least $25 million from partners chasing stock as well as from the Heidi launch program,” he said, noting that retailers have already increased orders by 25 percent upon hearing the Klum news.
The Heidi Klum Intimates line will launch simultaneously in January in about 2,000 doors worldwide including Selfridges, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, KaDeWe, Myer and David Jones.
Retailing for $59 to $99, core pieces such as colorful lace and satin push-up bras will remain part of the mainstay business, but Klum plans to put her own mark on new styles with the next collection.
The more accessibly priced Heidi by Heidi Klum line, retailing for $25 to 39, will roll out in January worldwide, then to 300 J.C. Penney Co. Inc. doors in July. Following will be HK Man, launching in Australia in January. The Macpherson Men line was previously sold only in the native market.
Klum, who shot the ad images with longtime collaborator Rankin in Los Angeles last week, will embark on a global road show from January to March in Australia, New Zealand, New York and London.
Settling into a settee in the parlor at Chateau Marmont, where she was shooting some lifestyle images with Rankin, Klum took a huge bite of spaghetti Bolognese before saying, “I’ve seen a lot of lingerie in the past 20 years, probably more than anyone. Most women put on a bra in the morning and take it off at night. Sometimes I have like 10 or 15 of them on a day. I’ve learned so much in the years that I’ve been modeling lingerie, so I don’t come completely out of left field in terms of knowing about the product. It’s not like I’m an athlete and all of a sudden I’m going into the lingerie industry.”
Klum also brings a huge built-in audience from the U.S. and Western Europe, which are still nascent markets for Bendon.
When asked if the company will seek to add another celebrity to its stable, Davis-Rice said, “Frankly, we don’t need anyone else. With Heidi, as with Stella McCartney, she’s not just an icon and global brand, but a business partner who can work with us to create value for consumers and stakeholders and the supply chain.”
Added Eric Watson, chairman and majority shareholder of Bendon, “The company will probably double in size over the next two to three years. And we will probably delay that IPO because of Heidi.”