Rose & Thorne are passionate about making sure women are wearing well-fitting bras. Image supplied.
Since the start of the pandemic many different areas of our lives have adapted to moving online and at popular Kiwi lingerie brand Rose & Thorne that includes their well-known bra-fitting service. Rose & Thorne’s virtual fitting service model is helping to grow the brand’s sales by expertly helping women find the right size and style of bra without having to visit a store.
Sue Dunmore, Rose & Thorne managing director, says in the past decade the dynamics of the New Zealand lingerie industry have changed significantly. She adds that the company’s investment in a virtual fitting model is providing a sales conversion rate of almost 100% in the local and international markets they sell to.
“Historically, the bra industry was dominated by cornerstone brands sold through department stores and big box retailers,” says Sue Dunmore. “Over time the dominance of the larger stores has waned as online shopping provided more variety and convenience – to the point that many actually removed their lingerie departments. In contrast, our business has evolved from purely wholesale at our inception, to now where over three quarters of revenue is through our e-commerce channels, and only a fifth of our business is still wholesale. The growth in online sales is also helping us expand our exports, which now make up around a third of our total sales.”
While women have heard many times over the years that we need to get bras that are properly fitted, it seems that many of us haven’t been doing it as Sue Dunmore has noticed that the majority of women are unaware their bra is not the correct size for their body shape. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve also gotten used to wearing bras less at home so returning to going out more and working in the office has women reevaluating their bras and looking for a more comfortable fit.
“What we have seen during COVID, is when many women were working from home they were dressing for comfort – which in many cases meant they were wearing alternatives such as a crop top instead of an underwire bra,” says Sue. “When they return to work, they find the more structured bras uncomfortable. We have seen a surge in demand for bra fitting services with women believing they have gained weight over this period. In reality however they have been wearing a poorly fitted bra for years and simply acclimated to what is in many cases quite unnecessarily high levels of discomfort. In about 90% of cases I will take them down a bra size and put them up several cup sizes – because inherently a woman knows the bra doesn’t fit but she thinks she has put on weight.”
While Sue Dunmore is well-known for her helpful bra fittings that have been a very popular service for Rose & Thorne over the years, the challenge was to try and replicate that as much as possible in a virtual way to help their online customers. The brand’s virtual fitting automation tool, the Pocket Bra Guru, uses algorithms to help women select the correct bra size. Customers can also book an online bra fitting with Sue if they would prefer to talk through their bra concerns or questions.
“Bra fitting is part science and part art and our technology can fit to around 75% accuracy – however there is currently no substitute for the traditional in person measurement model, however we recognise there is a portion of the market that is looking for a self service option,” adds Sue.
Recognising that more women are looking for comfortable options that have a more ‘bra-less’ feel, Rose & Thorne have recently launched wirefree bras in a range of colours and sizes that are proving popular with the brand’s customers. Sue recommends that if you are at all unsure of your fit a wirefree bra will be far more forgiving. Wirefree bras are also perfect for pre-natal and post surgery.
Rose & Thorne has continued to expand the size range they offer in recent years as Sue says the bust size of New Zealand women has changed significantly over the past decade and Rose & Thorne aims to accommodate the evolving market need.
“When we first launched our business 11 years ago, our best selling size was 14B – today, it is double D,” says Sue. “We have expanded our range to accommodate a wider variety of needs in this time as well. Our largest size when we started was 18DD but we now offer a 24G option and we are currently working on expanding this into K, L and M sizes. We are also seeing women moving into a wider variety of more physical roles such as manual trades which saw us create a new ‘active’ bra more suited to providing support in these careers. These bras are designed for the active woman; mums, tradies, nurses, teachers, policewomen, dairy farmers, corrections workers, office workers.”
Sue’s top tips for choosing a bra
Fit, fit and fit. Making sure you have the correct shape bra for your body type, the correct shape and fit will make your outerwear look fabulous.
How do you know when/if you should be fitted?
Any change to your lifestyle will change the fit of your bra, starting at the gym, stopping at the gym etc. We highly recommend a refit at least once a year, just like your cars WoF.