Australian lingerie company Honey Birdette is opening two boutiques in the United States this year — one at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles in October, followed by Westfield UTC Mall in San Diego the following month, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Along with a new office in Hollywood, the stores will join operations in London as the only locations outside of Australia, the company said, and will follow an already launched marketing campaign with Russian model Kristina Sheiter and Australian actress-model Sarah Stephens shot in L.A.
The company runs 55 stores across Australia and three boutiques in the United Kingdom and says it’s reviewing opportunities in other premium locations across Europe and the United States. The Honey Birdette "L.A. Story collection" will be available at the U.S., Australia and U.K. boutiques, as well as online in those countries, the company said.
Honey Birdette was founded in 2006 "over a glass of champagne between two friends" tired of not being able to find provocative lingerie and "luxury bedroom accessories," according to the company's website. Now with its arrival in the U.S., Honey Birdette, which calls itself "just a tad naughtier than you would expect," is pursuing a niche that leaves Victoria’s Secret with a less audacious, but still too-sexy market that is increasingly being abandoned by most lingerie shoppers.
Lingerie upstarts like Adore Me, True & Co, Lively and Thirdlove are seizing on the opening created by Victoria’s Secret, which still looms over the category despite challenged sales and fashion downtrends. Fourth quarter same-store sales at Victoria’s Secret fell 1%, and without e-commerce declined 6%. Victoria's Secret's commitment to sexier lingerie fashion is hurting its parent company, as consumers gravitate to more comfortable styles amid changing attitudes about body image.
Along with the online startups, retailers like Gap and American Eagle's Aerie are also ramping up competition in the segment. Subscription retailer Stitch Fix in February unveiled an add-on category for its women's boxes called Stitch Fix Extras, a curated collection of camisoles, shapewear, underwear, tights, bralettes, bras and socks featuring brands like Wacoal, Free People and Hanky Panky as well as the company's private label, Everyday by Stitch Fix.
While body positivity, comfort and fitness are now the prevailing concerns for many women shopping for underwear, Honey Birdette, with the motto "Do step this way ...," hopes to dominate by appealing to a niche consumer interested in bolder bedroom pursuits.