VF BANKS ON EUROPE-ONLY LINE FOR CONTINENTAL GROWTH

Byline: Katherine Weisman with Ruth McAuley Benoit

PARIS — VF Lingerie Europe, the Paris-based subsidiary of VF Corporation, is betting on a new, exclusively European Vanity Fair intimate apparel collection to boost its sales and share in the European market.
“We wanted to create a true European concept that responded to the needs of European women,” said Anthony Tredwell, the chairman of VF Developpement Europeen (VFDE).
The collection’s mix of fashion and comfort is achieved through technical fibers such as Lycra and Tactel, and includes a new, softer, patented treatment of microfiber called Skin Fair, developed with DuPont de Nemours. Tredwell added that his American counterparts at Vanity Fair Mills are considering the possibility of adapting the European Vanity Fair line for the U.S. market.
The Vanity Fair line is targeting the basic fashion segment of the market here, and is designed to meet the comfort, fashion and price criteria of women between 30 and 50 years old, said Laure Anfriani, the brand manager for the collection.
Eighteen months in the making — which included an elaborate three-phase pan-European testing period — the Vanity Fair line comprises 9 design groups ranging from the basic Serenity group in a matte microfiber to the glossy and sexy Satinance in a polyester blend.
Each grouping is available in a much broader size and cup range than competing European brands, Anfriani emphasized. Some of the groupings are made using Skin Fair, and the line is available in seven colors, including white. All of the lingerie is complemented by the coordinate Vanities panties collection made in Skin Fair. One-third of the collection is made in France. The rest is produced in factories in Ireland, Malta, Tunisia and Morocco. Retail prices for bras range from about $28 to $37 (150 to 200 francs), while panties are priced between $11 and $17 (60 and 90 francs). This compares to the average prices for bras and panties, $47 and $25 (250 francs and 130 francs), in this market. Thus, the line is positioned to sell slightly above the starting bra price of about $23 (120 francs) common in French department stores.
At these prices, Vanity Fair will be competing directly with products from Germany’s Triumph, and the European lines of Playtex and Warner, said Philippe Berthaux, the managing director of VF European Development. The collection was test-marketed in some 2,100 points of sale in France, Spain, the U.K. and Germany last fall, and will be rolled out into department stores and lingerie boutiques at the end of this month. While Anfriani declined to disclose sales objectives, she said that the brand will be sold to about 1,000 stores in France and 3,500 stores in the rest of Europe by the end of this year. By 1997, the collection is expected to be sold in roughly 1,700 stores in France and 6,400 stores in Europe.
A print advertising campaign produced by the Paris offices of Grey will accompany the launch in France and the Benelux countries beginning in March and running through November.
The company has bought $1.3 million (7 million francs) worth of ad space in women’s fashion magazines such as Marie Claire. A poster campaign will be added towards the end of the year. Advertising plans and budgets for the rest of Europe have not been decided, Anfriani said.
In merchandising and marketing, VF will play up the analogy that the Vanity Fair line is the “first lingerie cum skin care” on the market. The softness and comfort achieved through Tactel linings for lace bra cups, or the double-face cotton polyester blend that puts the cotton surface against the skin, makes the collection like a cosmetic, Anfriani claimed.
For example, the Vanities panties will be sold in a clear plastic tubing reminiscent of hand cream packaging, while demonstration models will be exposed in a wicker display case, allowing customers to feel the smoothness of the product. VF Corporation has a major presence in the European lingerie market. This is due in part to acquisitions during 1992, when VF bought France’s Valéo, which owns brands like Variance and Bolero. It also acquired JBE and Vives Vidal, operating in Spain and France, which own the Lou, Carina and Gemma brands. — Fairchild News Service

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