ROSY BLOSSOMS UNDER MARIE
Byline: Robert Murphy
PARIS — Jacques Marie has a thing for Rosy.
Last year, the former chief executive officer of French innerwear firm DIM purchased the brand and its factory from his one-time employer for an undisclosed sum. As ceo of DIM, a division of Sara Lee Corp., Marie was intimately acquainted with Rosy. It was his favorite brand in the DIM portfolio, which also includes Chantal Thomass, Rien and Antinea.
“‘It has a long, very French history,” said Marie of Rosy. “Visually, it has had a strong identity, too, with photographers like Jean-Louis Sieff and Helmut Newton both doing past ad campaigns.”
So, when DIM looked to unload Rosy, Marie seized the opportunity to buy.
Since leaving DIM in the early Nineties, Marie had already acquired a failing men’s and women’s sock company, Tricotage des Vosges. Within a few years, he had turned that venture into a thriving business. Today, Tricotage des Vosges produces some six million pairs of men’s and women’s socks under license for DIM, as well its own line Bleu Foret (Blue Forest), which he founded in 1995.
But socks alone didn’t satisfy Marie.
“I felt there was something missing without lingerie. It has a special place in my heart,” said Marie. “Lingerie holds the challenge of making a woman beautiful.”
This spring marks the relaunch of Rosy, which Marie said he will attempt to reposition to appeal to younger women.
“Traditionally, Rosy appealed to the 30-and-up age group,” said Marie. “We are now targeting 25- to 35-year-old women.”
Marie admits Rosy’s new strategy holds its share of challenges, including competing against so-called fast-fashion firms, like H&M and Zara, whose share of the lingerie market has grown over the last few years.
“Those chains will be our competition,” he said. “Their product is good, it appeals to young women and they have distribution muscle. Their image is strong — consider the H&M campaign with Claudia Schiffer. It was wonderful.”
Marie noted he is injecting Rosy with a touch of trendiness which the brand lacked.
“In the past, being fashionable for a lingerie firm meant changing the lace design,” he said. “The industry didn’t have a fashion edge. Introducing new colors was not considered important.”
For the first collection under Marie’s stewardship, Rosy will feature a palette of colors ranging from cappuccino and ivory to apricot and plum. Retail prices will range from about $27 for silk panties to $57 for a bra and $80 for a camisole. Rosy is sold in roughly 1,000 stores throughout Europe.
Being fashionable, though, does not mean abandoning Rosy’s roots, said Marie.
“Our edge comes from Rosy’s ‘Frenchness.’ The French are considered masters of lingerie that is sensual,” he said.
“It is our forte. But now, we have to bring that traditional savoir faire into the modern world.”