Chico’s wants consumers to know that its newest venture, TellTale, is not your mother’s lingerie brand.
On Wednesday Chico’s FAS, Inc. announced the launch of its new intimate apparel line, which will cater to women ages 25-40. The direct-to-consumer label’s collection of bras and underwear is “rooted in the idea of sensuality, comfort and self-expression,” Chico’s said in a statement. TellTale will complement Soma, another brand under the Chico’s umbrella that sells intimates, lounge wear and casuals.
“TellTale allows us to target new customers and offer them a different experience,” said Mary van Praag, president of Chico’s intimate apparel group. “It’s exciting to launch a brand in start-up style, with a lean, dedicated team to allow for speed and agility.”
Available from April 24, the TellTale collection will include six bra silhouettes with matching underwear. Those signature silhouettes will be replicated across different seasonal collections. Bra sizing will range from 32A-40DD, and XS to XL in underwear. With most bras in the $39-$49 range, Chico’s said TellTale will “address a gap in the market today for affordable, well-constructed, fashionable bras.”
That market gap has been growing wider in recent seasons with the decline of lingerie titan Victoria’s Secret. Just this week, Moody’s Investor Services downgraded the outlook for the brand’s parent company, L Brands Inc., from stable to negative. A Moody’s credit analyst cited “deteriorating operating margins and negative comparable store sales at Victoria’s Secret for the past ten quarters” as the reason for the assessment.
The loss of market share by Victoria’s Secret has been attributed to multiple factors, including the brand’s steadfast tone-deafness to the changing cultural landscape. The company still throws major marketing dollars at its legendary fashion show, and has failed to recognize that its signature waif-thin models in sexy sets are not resonating with the modern consumer.
By contrast, upstart DTC label Savage x Fenty, Rihanna’s intimates line, offers affordable lingerie in an inclusive size range and also makes a point to showcase diversity. Aerie, American Eagle’s intimates line, said it has enjoyed 16 consecutive quarters of double-digit sales gains thanks to its body-positive marketing campaigns.
The rising success of these smaller labels has brands strategizing about how they can break into the intimates sphere. TellTale will take a holistic approach to marketing, positioning itself as a lifestyle influencer and not just a purveyor of products. In addition to its core offering of comfort-conscious bras and underwear, the site will curate monthly collections of apparel, accessories and beauty products that align with their customer’s “interests and passions” as well as her “constant quest for new discoveries.”
“The retail environment is shifting rapidly,” said Shelley Broader, CEO and president of Chico’s FAS, Inc. “We believe that the winners long-term will be those that have a healthy pipeline of innovation—including innovative approaches to doing business.”