Corsets: Keys to Buying, Merchandising & Selling

Corsets: The Keys to Buying, Merchandising and Selling


Ali CudbyAli Cudby is the author of the bestselling bra fit guide Busted! and founder of the FabFit Academy, an international bra fit training and certification program designed specifically for lingerie professionals. Ali’s bra fit advice has been read by millions of women worldwide and has been featured in TV, radio and print ranging from Cosmopolitan to Weight Watcher magazine.  You can find Ali online at www.fabfoundations.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AliCudbyAuthor, and on Twitter at @alicudby.


So you’re thinking about corsets. Fantastic! You’ve come to the right place.

I teamed up with Angela Friedman, designer of both custom and ready-to-wear corsets to better understand this challenging lingerie item. Angela shared the key tips lingerie professionals need to stock, measure and merchandise these garments.

First, a definition. A corset is a rigid garment that covers the torso. It is laced onto the body and alters the overall shape of the figure by cinching in the waist. A corset has two distinct qualifiers: there must be no stretch in the garment and it must lace to close.

When a retailer decides to add corsets to their product mix, it’s time to examine the best ways to buy, merchandise and – of course – sell these lovelies.

Angela Friedman Corset Cecile 1

“Once you’ve made the investment in corsets, it’s important to show them off to their best advantage.”

Buying:

When selecting corsets for a store, there are several key considerations for a retailer to take into account:

  • Basic Black or Pop of Color? It’s particularly important to assess customer color preferences when it comes to investment pieces.
  • Getting Busted: Corsets have two core shapes, underbust and overbust. Underbust is more forgiving, since a single garment doesn’t need to adjust for the transition from torso to breasts. However, many customers prefer the overbust look.
  • Timing is Everything: Think about your overall mix, open to buy and customers’ buying patterns. Will the corset be a better fit for, say Halloween or Holidays?
  • Sizing: Consider the bra sizes of your core clientele and those who may be most interested in corsets to guide both purchase and style decisions.
  • Be In Style: Consider the aesthetic of the customers you serve when choosing corsets. Do you want to stock ready-to-wear or custom? The benefit of ready-to-wear is you can capture the impulse buy more easily. However, the items are also expensive and may not move as quickly. Partnering with a custom corsetiere, like Angela Friedman, can be the best of both worlds, as she offers both ready-to-wear and custom options. Angela can guide you in your purchasing and further talk you through the steps of ordering a custom corset for customers.

Angela Friedman Corset 3

“Having the vocabulary to discuss with the manufacturer can save time, avoid miscommunications and improve the overall transaction.”

Prices vary widely, from the low-end corsets that are closer to costume. These will be made with plastic and won’t have the strength to maintain an altered shape. A quality mid-range RTW corset will generally be priced in the $300-500 range (retail), and can retail as high as $700. Custom generally costs around 20-50% more, depending upon fabrics and the level of customization needed.

Before making a final decision on which brands to stock, take a look at the garments in person, and be sure to look at the inside of the corset – that’s generally the place where quality is apparent.

A couple of key markers of high quality:

  • To maintain shape on the body, ensure corsets are boned with steel, not plastic.
  • Fabrics should be silks and other high-end fabrics, not poly or nylon and never spandex. Spandex means stretch, which means it’s not a corset.
  • 100% cotton liner, preferably English or German coutil.
  • A waist tape is an extra step, means more time to make, but a longer lifespan.

Having the vocabulary to discuss with the manufacturer can save time, avoid miscommunications and improve the overall transaction. Check out the attached glossary to learn more.


Would you like to carry Angela Friedman at your boutique?

All the images in this story feature Angela Friedman’s work. Retailers interested in learning more about her corset and lingerie collection should visit: angelafriedman.com or contact Angela directly at: sales@angelafriedman.com.


Angela Friedman Corset Isabelle2

Merchandising:

Once you’ve made the investment in corsets, it’s important to show them off to their best advantage. Give them the wow factor corsets can – and should – command. Angela shared some key tips for merchandising:

  • Don’t merchandise corsets on hangers or laid flat. Women need to see the shape, which will help your sell-through.
  • Photos, posters and framed prints of the garments on models work well.
  • Give the customer a visual to help them understand that this is about altering shape. Ideal merchandising idea, place the garment on a mannequin that has been padded out to highlight the extent a body can be altered with a corset.

Angela Friedman Corset on Form 1 Angela Friedman Corset on Form 2 Angela Friedman Corset on Form 3

“Give the customer a visual to help them understand that this is about altering shape.”

Selling:

When selling a corset, there are some key aspects to keep in mind.

Like bras, women need to try on corsets to know if they will fit properly. Women can have the same measurements yet very different bodies – so fit is key. Corsets are generally sized by the waist measurement after the corset is fully cinched.

Angela Friedman Corset 5

“Like bras, women need to try on corsets to know if they will fit properly.”

Unlike many lingerie items, corsets favor women with some softness. Without it, there’s less ability to dramatically nip in the waist and create the hourglass shape corsets do so well. In fact, while a corset can often alter the waist by 3-4 inches (more on someone who is used to them) an athletic build with little body fat can generally only achieve a 1-2 inch difference.

When fitting a woman with implants in an overbust, the lacing has to be looser at the breasts because there’s less opportunity for the flesh to be shaped. You might want to guide the augmented toward underbust styles.

Understanding the vocabulary and quality factors will make corsets easier to sell, since you’ll be able to better articulate the value in these investment pieces..

With the right corsetiere, a little education and some spirit of adventure, corsets are a great addition for lingerie retailers!


Would you like to carry Angela Friedman at your boutique?

All the images in this story feature Angela Friedman’s work. Retailers interested in learning more about her corset and lingerie collection should visit: angelafriedman.com or contact Angela directly at: sales@angelafriedman.com.


Ready for Part 2?

Ali Cudby in the process of having a custom corset made by Angela Friedman
Check back next month for Part 2 of this report and join Ali Cudby as she works with Angela to create a custom garment. And learn more about Angela Friedman’s work by visiting: angelafriedman.com. Need even more Lingerie Retail Advice? Catch up on the Lingerie Journal’s retail advice columns HERE.


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7 Comments on “Corsets: Keys to Buying, Merchandising & Selling

  1. Beautiful, handmade corsets! Love the detailed workmanship! Carolyn Moore, Crystal Velvet Couture

  2. […] Part 1 of this two-part series we covered Buying, Merchandising and Selling Corsets. In this article, we’ll cover the differences between custom and ready-to-wear […]

  3. […] Ali Cudby has put together this incredible Retail Advice feature for retailers called: Corsets: The Keys to Buying, Merchandising and Selling. […]

  4. […] York, NY (PRWEB) May 31, 2013 The Lingerie Journal recently released a Corset Guide for Retailers. The two-part series is aimed at helping retailers understand corsets and gives them practical and […]

  5. Avatar Bratish says:

    Great article! Thank you..

  6. Beautiful garments and a great article! Thank you Ali.

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