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Dora Lau, an entrepreneur from Hong Kong whose specialty is designing lingerie and eveningwear, is launching her first collection of full-figure intimates called Curvy Couture.

The collection, which is inspired by Hollywood divas such as Ava Gardner and Marlene Dietrich, is rendered in Lycra spandex certified fabrications, European laces, Art Deco stitching and embroideries, and will launch July 17 at Curvycouture.com. Bras in cup sizes 36C to 44DD will retail between $48 and $55, and will feature padded microfiber straps as well as micro-lined push-up pads and removable cookies for enhanced cleavage. Undies will sell from $18 to $22 and will be sized 6/8 to 22/24. Special effects will include V-front silhouettes, light tummy control and seamless styling.

Lau — who as a curvy teenager began designing and making clothes for herself because of limited full-figure offerings in Hong Kong — has created and manufactured bras, undies and corsets in fuller sizes for the past 25 years for retailers including Lane Bryant, Avenue, J.C. Penney’s, Catherine’s, and Fashion Bug, as well as novelty items for Victoria’s Secret stores. Lau, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in California, founded Dora L. International Inc. in 1991 and serves as the company’s president and chief executive officer. Her awards include the Lane Bryant Vendor of the Year Award in 2006 and The Avenue Partner of Excellence Award in 2007. The line will be shown at The Kitano Hotel in New York during the innerwear market in August.

A first-year retails sales projection was not available, but the full-figure collection could generate sales in excess of $5 million, according to industry estimate.

Here, a chat with Lau about intimates for curvy women.


WWD: What motivated you to become a designer?
Dora Lau:
My family owned a Hong Kong record company, which was very popular. Our record label produced top local artists with some of the best selling albums in the Cantopop genre [Cantonese popular music]. At an early age, I was involved in creating a public image for artists, choosing fabrics and custom designing gowns and suits for their concerts, often traveling to Europe to shop at the Paris and Milan couture houses….Growing up in Hong Kong I was a curvy teenager. Finding clothes that fit and looked good was impossible, so I started designing and making my own clothes. After graduating from design school, my first endeavor was creating eveningwear for full-figured women. To me, the industry has always underserved the curvy woman, and now I’ve created my own intimate label, Curvy Couture.

WWD: Please describe your goals for the brand.
D.L.:
Curvy Couture is a total lifestyle concept, catering to our customer to make her feel sexy and pampered. In addition to intimate apparel, we have added body care products with fragrances of French lavender and lemon verbena. Our products include a head-to-toe lotion that moisturizes and regenerates a woman’s skin, a shower gel that invigorates her senses, a hand cream made with soothing oils, and relaxing and healing bath salts. In the future, we see this total concept expanding to include hi-tech sports bras and shapewear for the curvy woman.

WWD: Why are you launching the brand now?
D.L.:
The Curvy Couture line is a combination of everyday bras that are fashionable with a touch of Hollywood glamour and couture embellishments. Beneath all that, these bras are extremely comfortable and supportive through the technology that our team has developed. For the last several years, the full-figure population has grown. This is reflected in the increase in our private label business. Now is the time for me to pass along the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years. Sometimes, due to retail cost structures, the latest innovations and technologies cannot be included. Since Curvy Couture will be sold directly to the consumer we can pass on the latest innovation into our garments at an affordable value.

WWD: What is your marketing strategy?
D.L.: We have hired a team to do a full scale, online marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization so that we appear on page one when a consumer searches for full figure bras. We are also doing social media campaigns for Facebook, Twitter, promotions with bloggers, giveaways, and pay-per-click and affiliate advertising….We will also be offering free shipping so our customers have the opportunity to try on Curvy Couture without risk. A fit guide on our Web site is totally different than any other. No measuring tapes! Our fit guide will speak to our consumers by sensing her “feelings,” and how she should feel in a bra that fits properly. We have a toll free customer service number with bra and panty fit experts trained by me.

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