Marlies Dekkers, the Dutch lingerie designer who put her bondage-inspired brand on the map in 1993, will be introducing her first diffusion label in July: Undressed by marliesdekkers.
This story first appeared in the April 4, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Dekkers got her break in fashion after winning a prize for best graduate design — Zeebelt Prijs — at St. Joost Academy in the Netherlands, for which she received a grant from the Dutch government to start her own company. Since then, she’s become known for her racy black bras, undies and bodysuits with peek-a-boo slits and cutout treatments. Her Marlies Dekkers brand is sold at 800 department and specialty stores worldwide, including Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman, and at high-end boutiques in the U.S. as well as at 11 Marlies Dekkers boutiques in Europe.
Dekkers, whose firm generates estimated wholesale and retail sales in excess of $30 million, described the secondary Undressed by marliesdekkers label as “cutting edge, graphical, young and conceptual,” while the primary brand continues to be aimed at women who “love high-end, luxurious, exclusive and refined” intimate apparel. Bras in the diffusion line will retail for $89 and undies will sell for $45, and the Marlies Dekkers brand will continue to retail between $139 to $289.
Here, Dekkers shares her thoughts on lingerie and her secondary brand.
WWD: Do you feel it’s the right time to launch a new brand — during a tough global economy?
Marlies Dekkers: I believe it’s important for my brand to be continuously innovative. That’s why I think it’s the right moment for my brand to be divided into two entities, one being the total opposite of the other. It’s important to keep surprising your customers.…The Marlies Dekkers brand already had the Never Out of Stock group, a selection of the most popular styles. Because of this, we thought it would be a good idea to launch Undressed by marliesdekkers and reintroduce favorite collections from our archives.
WWD: What makes your lingerie special?
M.D.: I don’t just design lingerie, I sell philosophy. I design from the female’s point of view, and I want to make every woman feel special, beautiful and self-confident through my lingerie, whether women wear it for the intricate design or for the perfect fit and shape. It’s the one message I hold true and find important. Every piece has a story to tell. I find inspiration in everything around me, from art, to poetry, to music, to choreography. For example, my spring-summer 2011 collection is inspired by the Sixties and Seventies.…The design of my lingerie goes through many steps. Once the patterns and shapes have been designed, the best fabrics are chosen, the different sizes are fit and then fit again by our models. We test the lingerie to see how sustainable it is against washing, sunlight et cetera.
WWD: Is there anything you dislike about intimate apparel?
M.D.: Lingerie that is mass produced without thought or original design. This kind of lingerie is also of poor quality, and the shapes and fit of the lingerie are bad because it’s produced quickly and cheaply.…I live and breathe lingerie and design. It’s my passion and always has been.
WWD: What was your first bra like?
M.D.: When I was just seven years old I asked my mother if I could have garters. Unfortunately, she said no.…My first bra was an uncomfortable training bra like everyone else’s at that age. That’s why I find it so important to produce the perfect fit and shape of a bra.
WWD: Are there plans for viral campaigns, print advertising, marketing ventures?
M.D.: We’re constantly thinking up new ideas. Our most recent project is the Marlies Dekkers magazine, which will offer a glimpse into my life as a designer, my lingerie designs and the stories they tell, as well as fun and interesting lifestyle facts, things every woman should know [about lingerie]. The magazine will come out in May, and will be available in many countries in Europe. I hope we can expand and send the magazines to the U.S.