Victoria's Secret on Wednesday began selling lingerie from new French brand Livy, founded in 2017 by Paris-based designer Lisa Chavy, including bras, panties, lingerie, sleepwear and "lifestyle pieces" at some U.S. stores and online. The brand will be available in some U.K. stores on Feb. 20, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The L Brands banner has a Livy shop-in-shop within its Fifth Avenue store in New York and will have another at its New Bond Street flagship in London, the company also said.
Livy items have "high-end product details [that] include graphic-back designs, tattoo-style appliques, crisp laser-cut lines, bold hardware accents, luxe Calais lace, and thermo-fused technology creating a smooth and comfortable fabric finish," according to the release. Prices start at $45 for panties and range up to $490 for a kimono, according to Victoria's Secret's online Livy storefront.
Victoria's Secret remains the global behemoth in lingerie sales. In 2017 the brand captured 28.8% of market share in women's underwear, 27.6% in women's nightwear and possibly much more in the lingerie segment, according to an email to Retail Dive from Michelle Grant, head of retailing at Euromonitor International. Lingerie shoppers spend three-quarters of what they spend on intimates at Victoria's Secret stores, and 85% of their online intimates spending is done at victoriassecret.com, according to a report from NPD's Checkout Tracking service two years ago.
But sales are sinking as its particular take on what's sexy has fallen out of favor. The brand saw December comparable sales fall 6%, driven by a decline in lingerie and PINK, and its merchandise margin rate was down "significantly to last year, driven by increased promotional activity," according to a company transcript of its conference call.
Part of the problem is that Victoria's Secret's offer is perceived as predicated on the male gaze and the unattainable, unvarying body type personified by its "angels." That limited and increasingly unpopular viewpoint has opened up an opportunity in the market, and several companies in recent years have sought to steal share by developing more comfortable styles in more inclusive sizes.
"Sexy" is arguably still on the table for many women, however, even if not the narrow options found in Victoria's Secret stores. Livy, with its fresh takes on lingerie, fashioned by a female designer who is outspoken about women's empowerment, could be the answer.
"I love the way women make choices," Chavy said in a statement. "The way they decide to live their life, fully, boldly. I created LIVY because I wanted to empower women's freedom. I wanted to create lingerie that would be more than lingerie — it's a lifestyle matching who they are."
Lee Peterson, executive vice president of thought leadership and marketing at WD Partners and an L Brands alum, calls it a "great move." While Victoria's Secret customers may not be used to the high prices tagged onto the Livy items, the brand serves as a symbol of change, beyond the expansion of the assortment.
"This is totally brand-right and just might move the needle upwards in terms of some of the brand-cachet damage they've incurred from all the discounting and [buy one, get one] deals they're now known for," he told Retail Dive in an email. "We used to say that a product assortment should be like a triangle, and that the goods at the top were the most aspirational. Well, this is definitely at the top of the product pyramid."