NEW YORK — Frederick’s of Hollywood is poising itself for a comeback with a new, sophisticated identity.
The 57-year-old Frederick’s, one of the most well-known risqué names in lingerie, has been trying to clean up its act off and on for decades. Now, having emerged from a 2 1/2-year bankruptcy saga in January, the innerwear specialist is broadening its horizons with expanded product categories and an initiative to give its 160 retail units a major face-lift.
Frederick’s, which generates sales of $200 million through its stores, catalog and e-commerce business, will introduce a signature fragrance bearing the Frederick’s of Hollywood name this fall. The firm also plans to develop a shoe business, as well as costume jewelry, said Linda LoRe, president and chief executive officer.
LoRe, a former president and ceo of Giorgio Beverly Hills — where she oversaw successful launches of women’s scents such as Giorgio, Red, Wings and Ocean Dream — is directing this major makeover that involves financial, marketing, merchandising and creative aspects of the business.
“We knew if we didn’t reposition ourselves and keep the consumer in mind after exiting Chapter 11, we would be behind the eight ball,” said LoRe, who joined Frederick’s in 1999. “The question was, how do we reposition ourselves as a brand rather than a store, a catalog company or an Internet company?”
LoRe said she and her year-old management team decided to update marketing and merchandising programs for this coming fall, such as beefing up categories LoRe refers to as “Bra Power” “Vintage Lingerie” and “Get Cheeky” boy-cut pants. Repositioning the Frederick’s brand as an “anti-establishment lingerie brand, an alternative brand that is playful, sexy, high quality and affordable — not representing ‘Boogie Nights’” — was a key strategy.
Yolanda Dunbar, vice president of marketing, said the firm reached back to information gleaned from a consumer research survey in 2001 conducted in five cities: Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.
“We measured the research to see how well we had done,” said Dunbar, noting that Frederick’s finished a retail direct response survey this month. “What we learned was we rate very high on sexy, special-occasion type of apparel, but we also learned that when we showed new ideas and merchandise, these consumers would most likely come to us to shop — 70 percent said they would.”
Dunbar identified Frederick’s core customer in the 18-to-35 age range, with 22- to 27-year-olds accounting for the heart of the business. The most mature consumer shops the catalog, while the youngest shops in the stores, she said.
LoRe interjected, “Baby Boomers by and large still have old perceptions of Frederick’s. Younger consumers have quite a different attitude of who we are. A word we heard a lot of in the studies was ‘confident.’ Women told us they enjoyed feeling sexy unaided because they felt confident about themselves.”
With this idea in mind, LoRe said one new logo Frederick’s plans to market heavily is the letter F.
“F is the ultimate sex symbol,” said LoRe, pointing to a slim, undulating F-shaped logo. “It’s curvy and sexy looking.”
So far, this is just the icing on the cake, said LoRe, who got the ball rolling last year by bidding adieu to Frederick’s garish, pink store awnings and Fifties-style purple and chrome interior, and modernizing the signature comic-book-style Frederick’s logo with an oversized shooting star.
Dunbar showed a look book of items representing Frederick’s past and present. Packaged specialty accessories like petal-shaped pasties and adhesive body bras used to be merchandised in plain brown boxes with a hot-pink Frederick’s of Hollywood signature. The new rendition features a sensual red- and sepia-tone visual of a woman’s face and bodice identifying the products as Body Ware alongside the F logo.
The transformation also is seen on packaging for Frederick’s trademark marabou-trimmed slippers, which are now merchandised in glamorous black and gold boxes with multiple visuals of a contrasting white satin and marabou slipper. Before, the packaging was beige with a black Frederick’s of Hollywood stamp. Hosiery packaging has also been updated with close-up black-and-white visuals of fishnet and back-seam thigh-highs and assorted specialty legwear on models wearing string bikinis, high-cut briefs and garters called Leg Ware, instead of generic-looking plain envelopes.
LoRe noted that a new gift-packaged line of body products called Boudoir Cafe is “ideal” for bridal showers. The line, which features visuals of a cartoonish sexpot in marabou bra and bikini, features items like Whipped Body Creme, Kiss of Fire massage oil and Bed Sheet Mist spray.
The fredericksofhollywood.com Web site has also been revamped. The site is filled with updated visuals photographed for a more sophisticated Frederick’s customer and shows contemporary product on models who look hip and modern. It’s also more user-friendly, with links to categories, the latest seasonal styles and a featured item of the moment, such as a “Feather Lace Sleepshirt” for $38.
In addition, there’s the new store image that was unveiled at a refurbished 1,000-square-foot unit in Glendale, Calif., in spring 2002. The new format resembles a funky boudoir with red velvet drapes, leopard-pattern carpeting, opulent cherry wood paneling and oversized portrait visuals of models in lingerie. The average size of the 160 units is 1,500 to 1,600 square feet, LoRe noted.
So far, LoRe said 10 stores have been remodeled, nine of which have the new imagery. Another 56 units are scheduled for a face-lift; eight will be redone this year.