Wacoal Europe encompasses a collection of brands with differing consumer appeal and product specialities including Freya, Fantasie, Wacoal, Elomi, b.tempt’d and Goddess. Laura Simon, Brand Director, was appointed to assess, refresh and restructure the portfolio to set up further growth and success for the Group. Pamela Scott found out more about their plans for SS2018 and beyond – read the complete interview in the next issue of Underlines.
Laura comes from a career spanning advertising, business and branding strategy and digital communications but with no previous first-hand knowledge of the intimate apparel industry. “When I joined about 12 months ago of course it was a stiff learning curve but the heritage and the amazing ‘house’ of brands really appealed to me,” she comments. “The company is one with a long heritage and has grown organically over the years with great success but the management including our CEO, Geoff Embley, realised that we needed to take major steps forward in communication on a global level for all the brands under Wacoal Europe. This has entailed assessing each on its merits, creating clearer identities and thereby driving and optimising strong brand recognition.”
In the SS2018 season the evidence of well-thought out and targeted approach will be seen in the Freya, Elomi and Wacoal brands with Fantasie, b.tempt’d and Goddess following later next year. “When we started to really dissect each brand, we dispensed with too much emphasis on age groups but of course Freya undeniably is for the younger consumer (25-35). This consumer is active, social, bold and she wants brands she understands and can relate to easily.” The Freya campaign is ‘Freya and Friends’ – an element of discovery and definitely sharing but always in a fresh and fun way.
Elomi, the fuller figure product group of Wacoal Europe, is a brand that crosses age groups with ease and Laura says there will be broad brand appeal going forward. “Elomi is about femininity, confidence, transformation and living life with no limitations. We will be working in partnership with people with influence (and deliberately not celebrities) to help us further tap into what these women really want from us.” The new 2018 ranges reflect this consumer base with designs in bold, zesty colours alongside everyday pieces.
Wacoal, the premium brand of the parent company, is much more aimed at a lifestyle market – bringing a luxury label to a larger market throughout Europe. As Laura says: “Although not that well known in Europe, it is a key brand to defining our position there. These are products which are crafted, innovative and beautiful to the eye – both stylish and classical. We also have a new design direction with the appointment of Sachi Wakashiro who has 15 years of experience working on the Wacoal brand. The first campaign will run in France and followed by more initiatives in the UK and elsewhere in AW2018.”
So how does Laura feel that this new approach will be received with their retail partners, both in the UK and worldwide? “Well we feel that and have been assured by the customers we have spoken to that this brand exercise was long overdue. It is time for clear, bright and bold messages around each brand, illuminating their appeal and ensuring we are in a position to get the consumer feedback we need to deliver the products our customers want and ultimately will benefit our retail partners.”