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Berlei embraces online bra shopping

Australian intimate apparel company Berlei entered the US market last week, with Berlei sports bras now available in select Macy’s department stores, on and at a handful of specialist retailers in the US.

Berlei divisional manager Holli Michelle talked to Internet Retailing about introducing the brand to US consumers through social media and how e-commerce is changing the way women shop for bras.

“Consumers are turning to the internet for fitness inspiration more than any mainstream media channels,” Michelle told Internet Retailing. “We know they’re using the internet more and more to learn about brands and products.”

This realisation led the company to partner with a number of relevant bloggers and social media influencers, in addition to brand ambassador Serena Williams, to introduce the brand to US consumers. But Berlei doesn’t just see the internet as a place to educate consumers. “We have a great online business and we see a lot of our wholesale partners growing online as well,” Michelle said.

At first glance, the nature of online shopping seems at odds with a product that is so hard to fit. Different bra styles often fit very differently, so customers may wear various sizes even within the same brand. Berlei has long understood the complexities of fit.

In 1926 it partnered with the University of Sydney to conduct an anthropometric survey of 6000 women to develop better fitting bras. “Bras require such a specialised level of design – they can really be a feat of engineering,” Michelle said.

“We certainly think that being fitted instore would be helpful for customers, but the market’s moving more and more online these days,” Michelle said. “Younger customers in particular aren’t afraid to buy bras online.”

For many women, the convenience of trying on bras at home may be worth the effort of returning the ones that don’t fit.


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