International Intimates Showroom Visit
“Anyone who loves lingerie is guaranteed an exciting visit to our showrooms since we have numerous SKUs in many different product categories.” – Wilson Kello, International Intimates.
Story and photos by Luis Paredes
(Editor’s note: International Intimates will be at the upcoming International Lingerie Show from March 30 – April 1, 2015 at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.)
We’re starting our second showroom visit this month with one of the largest spaces dedicated to lingerie in New York city, the International Intimates Showroom. It’s an impressive space showcasing the brand’s spectrum of styles and brands including René Rofé. Wilson Kello, Creative Director at International Intimates, took me on a tour at the end of December and had a chance to also speak with the brand’s founder, owner and CEO, René Rofé. Read on to learn more about International Intimates with our Q&A with Wilson:
Wilson, could you tell us a little bit about the International Intimates, Inc. showroom? How long has International Intimates been at 180 Madison?
International Intimates, Inc. (III) is the oldest, and until recently, the largest, tenant at 180 Madison Ave., having occupied space in the building since the Company’s inception in 1986. Starting out with about 2,000 sq. ft., III currently occupies three floors comprising about 37,000 sq. ft.
180 was known as the lingerie building home to a good number of intimate apparel brands. Did the company move in back then because so many brands were already there? What’s the story behind the location?
Yes, when we opened our first showroom, 180 was the premier lingerie building in the city. Most of the lingerie firms were situated on Madison Ave., primarily between 32nd and 34th Sts.
Now it looks like International Intimates is one of the few brands left there. Does this make a difference for the company?
There are still a few intimate apparel companies at 180, but yes, you’re right, most of them have moved out. I don’t think it makes any difference to us, and in fact, we will also be moving to a new space at 31 W34th St. during the second quarter of 2015.
It’s a huge showroom and I’m sure it takes a lot of personnel to run. Could you give us a rundown about the team that works there on the 7th & 8th floors? Does a lot of the creative process (design) happen there at the showroom?
Being on three floors is very inefficient, and at our new location, we will have approximately the same space but it will all be on one floor. Currently the 7th floor houses our administrative and sales teams as well as our bra, panty, shapewear & sleepwear showrooms.
Above: founder, owner and CEO, René Rofé.
“René himself encourages all our customers to feel free to open closets and snoop around since it is virtually impossible to show all our offerings in one sitting.”
Our private label product development and marketing teams, as well as three additional showrooms occupy the 8th floor. Product development for Company-owned brands takes place on the 5th floor, which also houses our sexy division.
How many brands are under one roof at the showroom?
A lingerie buyer looking for something specific for their store is bound to find a huge selection of lingerie, but III also offers intimates in several different categories.
Above: International Intimates offers selections in shapewear, lounge/sleepwear in addition to lingerie.
What are some items buyers may not know are available through International Intimates?
Our showrooms feature all of our company-owned brands, including René Rofé Lingerie, Sophie b., Just Try Me, René Rofé Sexy, Pink Lipstick, Lala Intimates, and Pillow Talk in addition to our licensed Isaac Mizrahi brand.
International Intimates has excellent sourcing and manufacturing capabilities, and produces all types of products under the intimate apparel umbrella as well as unrelated items such as swimwear, scrubs, caftans and charmeuse travel sets. Our 15 year old Bon Bébé division, which specializes in baby and infant apparel and accessories, is located at 34 W33rd St.
What kind of an experience can a buyer expect when visiting the showroom? How does the team walk them through the collections?
Anyone who loves lingerie is guaranteed an exciting visit to our showrooms since we have numerous SKUs in many different product categories. We try to be hospitable to everyone and make all our customers feel comfortable. René himself encourages all our customers to feel free to open closets and snoop around since it is virtually impossible to show all our offerings in one sitting. In this way our customers can look for themselves to spot items they may be looking for.
For any of our readers that want to make an appointment to see the International Intimates collection, where should we point them to?
For now, you can point them to the 7th floor at 180 Madison Ave. or simply have them call 212-213-4848 for an appointment.