PARIS — Elle Macpherson Intimates, which turns 20 this year and is distributed in 1,300 doors worldwide, has finally penetrated France’s innerwear market.

This story first appeared in the February 3, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

On Tuesday, Macpherson landed in Paris for the inauguration of her first 350-square-foot shop-in-shop here, positioned at the entrance of Printemps’ lingerie department.

Macpherson cited infrastructure hurdles as part of the reason for her tardy arrival, but she said she also wanted to reflect upon what she could bring to the table in a nation where women are “very seasoned to good lingerie.”

Sales since the store’s opening about two weeks ago have already reached expectations “and beyond,” she said, while declining to give figures. Elle Macpherson Intimates shops will also open in Printemps’ Nation (also in Paris) and Lille sites.

According to Nathalie Santonja, Printemps’ general merchandising manager, lingerie and child, Macpherson’s personality resonates with the retailer’s target lingerie customer, women in the 25-to-45 age bracket. Meanwhile, her collection matches a shift in demand by French women for more modern, colorful and graphic pieces.

“It has a strong positioning in terms of sexy attitude, which we think women aspire to,” added Santonja, who expects Elle Macpherson Intimates, which ranks as an entry-level label for Printemps’ innerwear department, will soon be among the store’s top 10 innerwear brands.

Meanwhile, Macpherson said her company is weathering the storm, as today’s penny-pinched consumers seem more willing to splurge on a piece of lingerie than a dress. She also noted the runway’s current obsession with innerwear is serving as great promotion for the industry.

“I think it’s great that it has been recognized that structure is important; it is the architecture of clothes….With great lingerie, the proportion of your body changes,” said Macpherson.

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