SHANGHAI — Changing cultural tides have forced the once dominant Victoria’s Secret to transform its super-sexy image into something more appropriate for the modern age. It’s also prompted companies that work with Victoria’s Secret, like Hong Kong-based lingerie-maker Hop Lun, which also supplies to Triumph and owns brands like Dorina and 6ixty8ight, to rethink what consumers want from their underwear.
Hop Lun’s boldest bet into answering that comes in the form of Scandale, a relaunch of a French brand, this month.
Founded in 1932 by Robert Perrier, a former collaborator of Christian Dior on the New Look, the brand was known for its latex innovation, creating materials that were lighter and more comfortable for women to wear, instead of rigid and structured undergarments of the day. Starting in 1971, it changed hands several times before being acquired by Hop Lun in 2016.
Now led by chief executive officer Edouard Roche, the brand has relaunched to meet the modern values of Gen Z, merging sensuality, sustainability and inclusivity — or as the brand says, “a French touch with people and planet in mind.”
The brand has been redesigned from the ground up. Instead of introducing new collections every season, the brand has designed 105 permanent styles, with only limited capsules once a quarter, with the idea to reduce its carbon impact. It also has distinctive environmental practices — 80 percent of the fibers in the line comes from second life or recycled materials and the brand has B-Corp status pending.
“Usually, the percentage of recycled material in lingerie is about 3 to 5 percent on average so we are bringing an alternative and a new norm,” Roche explained. “We decided to be very careful on all the steps of the value chain, all the packaging is fully responsible. Even the thread that we are using to sew the garment is made of recycled material. Papers also some are recycled, the thread between hangtags and the product is organic cotton.”
“We’ve selected partners also on supply chain that are going to very eco friendly,” he added, “and thanks to that with all the decision being made, we have reduced carbon dioxide by 65 percent. Water used in the entire sample production is reduced by 50 percent, and also the level of chemicals which is reduced by 20 percent. We decided by the way, that the white that we have in the collection will not be dyed.”
At the same time, the products are not androgynous in feel but incorporate lace and feminine details.
Roche said he wanted the brand to “find the equilibrium between sensuality on one side and sustainability on the other. Most of the brands that are sustainable in luxury right now — I’m thinking about Organic Basics, I’m thinking about VPL in Los Angeles — these brands are quite basic design.”
And while sustainable products are often associated with higher costs, the brand felt it was important not to pass those on to the customer. Bras start at 32 euros and go up to 62 euros, while panties are 17 euros.
“In the process of development, we carried out probably 90 to 95 one-to-one interviews with young German, British and French consumers and all of them were saying that they don’t understand why eco brands are charging an eco premiums,” Roche said.
This is no matter if it is straight or larger sizing, Roche added, saying that some brands charge more for their plus size products.
Moreover, none of the brand images are retouched and products are shot on 14 different models to help customers in their decision process. “If you select your size, 75A or whatever, you will see your selection of products as close as possible to your body specification, and we don’t think that exists [with other brands] today,” Roche said.
The brand is debuting through Galeries Lafayette, Asos, Zalando so the focus is on western markets initially. Other platforms are in talks but with its Hong Kong roots and proximity to China, Roche said the brand also has plans for closer to home. “We will be ready in a year and a half to introduce Scandale in China,” he said.