Lingerie brand Parade is opening its first physical store today. The label, founded by Columbia University dropout Cami Téllez in 2019, has opened at 577 Broadway in Manhattan’s SoHo. It represents an evolution of Téllez’s ambitions to set a new paradigm in lingerie shopping. Like many of the new crop of innerwear brands, Parade aims to appeal to women based on concepts of self-acceptance and expression instead of catering to the male gaze and mainstream notions of sensuality.
Téllez said a physical store was the next logical step in the company’s growth, citing market research that 80 percent of lingerie purchases are made via offline channels. In late September, Parade revealed that it had raised a $20 million Series B round of funding led by growth-equity firm Stripes, which brought its overall valuation to $140 million.
“In order for us to reinvent the underwear category, we have to go offline,” said Téllez, who also serves as Parade’s chief executive officer. “For us, the brand was born in New York and it’s where our community has roots. So we chose this location feeling like it’s most in touch with contemporary culture. It’s a futurist, maximalist space that was designed in opposition of the sexy boudoirs of lingerie stores past, as well as the current direct-to-consumer minimalism [aesthetic]. It’s not just about sales but expanding our community and interacting with them.” The plan is to operate the store until March and then reassess if a larger location is needed or if Parade will stay in its current space.
Pulling inspiration from ’60s and ’70s interiors, the 2,000-square-foot colorful space was designed by Téllez in collaboration with up-and-coming interior talent Xavier Donnelly. Despite its growing scale, Téllez wants to keep Parade true to its beginnings. Salespeople are outfitted in psychedelic stripe pajama sets designed by indie label Tyler McGillivary, a friend of Téllez’s. The store also features artwork by past Parade collaborators like Jeanette Hayes.
Téllez said she wanted to break with lingerie store tradition and carefully thought over details like mannequin sizes, staffing and display cases.
“We wanted to create an emotional experience of celebrating the body and didn’t want a single body type represented in the store. We wanted to paint a picture of inclusivity and provide the feeling of a more unbounded surreal world. We don’t want people to feel like they are rummaging in a dark table in the mall. We created a space in conversation with art and culture and have been conscious of bring real art creators to tell a story that is a more fun departure into the world of buying underwear,” she said.
She added that plans for additional stores would be revealed in the new year, and that physical retail is a key strategy in helping the brand reach its goal of serving “more than 1 million customers.”
In the past year, Parade expanded its product offering from solely underwear to a full line of bralettes. Now it is slowly introducing loungewear and bodysuits. Two months ago, the label also opened its website to shoppers in Canada. “Our ambition is to be the next underwear brand for everyone,” Téllez said.