Lauren Rich is a woman after our own hearts. Not only does she run her very own successful PR firm based out of New York, she also is the founder of one of our favorite events of the year, Lingerie Fashion Week. Her strong practice in public relations is certainly a gift when it comes to promoting a niche market that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Since setting out last year to “showcase designers collections to powerful publicity results,” Miss Rich has seen an insane increase of brand participation, press coverage and sponsorship. With the seductive affair growing exponentially, we were able to squeeze in a quick interview with the woman behind it all, and here’s what she had to say…
LF: Hi Lauren, can you tell us a bit about your background in the lingerie industry?
LR: My background in lingerie really stems from my background in fashion – I graduated from FIT in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising & Marketing Communications. I came out of the gate freelancing for womenswear brands (Zulema Griffin from Project Runway season 2 was my first client) and a few years later had an influx of lingerie & intimates clients. I really loved the niche and as I discovered, the breadth of the industry – there are so many talented lingerie designers out there doing cool, creative, unique things, so I embraced it. I have since established my PR agency, RICHPR, as a go-to for lingerie brands here in New York.
LF: What inspired you to start Lingerie Fashion Week?
LR: A few things kind of conspired to pop this idea into my head. Coming from a womenswear background where everything centers around Fashion Week, I immediately noticed a gap for intimates. I would oftentimes see intimates brands collaborating with womenswear designers for New York Fashion Week, but hardly any holding solo shows. There was a Fashion Week for womenswear, menswear, even swimwear – but for some reason intimates brands were left out of the equation. I found that especially odd given the intimate apparel industry isn’t just lingerie – it’s sleepwear, loungewear, shapewear, legwear, lingerie solutions, lingerie accessories…the list goes on. I had also worked on National Underwear Day (an annual event put on by intimates e-retailer Fresh Pair) as an intern in college, as well as the Contours International Lingerie Awards Gala held at the Waldorf (put on by an intimates trade publication) in the beginning of my intimates PR career – the latter is really what ‘officially’ sparked the idea.
I did my research to find out if there was, in fact, a Lingerie Fashion Week already in existence. The closest platforms available for intimates brands as an industry, beyond the two above, were tradeshows – exhibitor/booth style for sales. Some of these would (and do), in fact, hold runway shows – but primarily for a retailer and further industry-centric audience. There was no centralized industry platform like the publicity machine that is New York Fashion Week, for lingerie. An industry platform with two primary goals: a) generate powerful publicity results in order to b) reach and engage the consumer, in addition to reaching the industry.
LF: What’s it been like watching LFW grow, if you were to compare this year to your debut year, what’s changed in terms of reaction and brand involvement?
LR: I keep saying to my team members that I cannot believe it has been a full year already since our debut. This time last year we had 6 brands on board. That went up to 10 in August and 17 moving into Feb. Reaction from all fronts has been overwhelmingly positive since day one, which we are pleased to see translating into increased brand participation, sponsorship collaborations, and press coverage each season. Watching Lingerie Fashion Week grow has of course been the best part. We feel very fortunate not only to see an idea through from concept to execution, but to receive increased interest, involvement, and results season after season.
LF: How will brands and buyers benefit from Lingerie Fashion Week?
LR: This is where some confusion lies between us and the industry tradeshows. We target press vs. buyers. Buyers are very welcome and encouraged to attend to see collections on the runway (or in a presentation setting), however we’re not a platform where buyers can sit down and write orders like at a trade show. That said – brands benefit from Lingerie Fashion Week by the publicity results shows generate, ultimately reaching the consumer and raising brand awareness. We really want to make lingerie designers household names like their womenswear counterparts. For every Alexander Wang, Jason Wu and Nicholas K, there’s FYI by Dani Read, NaïS, Arsenic & Vieilles Dentelles, Nevaeh Intimates, Negative Underwear and more contemporary lingerie equivalents. Thus far brands holding shows at Lingerie Fashion Week have been featured in outlets including WWD, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, The Daily Beast, E! News, omg! Insider, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The San Francisco Chronicle, Fashionista, The International Business Times, and many more. We are absolutely the platform for brands looking for a powerful PR & marketing boost.
LF: Are there any brands you’re particularly excited about this season?
LR: We’re excited for all brands holding shows, but of course always love designers that do something particularly unique. We have Layneau Collection making their brand debut with us, holding a Presentation complete with a live string quartet and models up to age 60. Also embracing model diversity is Kix’ies Thigh Highs, showing their collection on models size 0 – 12, age 18 – 40+. Their Presentation, “Cirque de Kix’ies,” will also feature surprise guest performances…we hear some from the ceiling. We’re excited to have Naked Princess with us for the first time, a luxury boudoir house showing via Runway, and we’re also excited for our Made in the USA Presentation. This season we have LA-based Clare Bare, Brooklyn-based NaïS, and Philadelphia based Sophi Reaptress.
We’re holding a “Ones to Watch” Special Exhibition for the first time which we’re stoked for – specifically targeting new & emerging designers. We’re beyond thrilled to have Arsenic & Vieilles Dentelles, BlackBird Underpinnings, Iris London, Lola Haze, Negative Underwear and Nevaeh Intimates all on board. We also always love when brands come back! Affinitas & Parfait returns for a 3rd season and BRADELIS NEW YORK for a 2nd, each holding a Runway Show followed by a Presentation with cocktails. FYI by Dani Read also returns from season 1, holding a Presentation titled “Muse of the Violets” we hear is not for the faint of heart. Finally – we have sculpture artist Heather Corey coming in to showcase “Love Corsetry,” a textural expression of the corset presenting detailed manipulation of (Corey’s own) handmade paper fibers and paper clay.
LF: What are your hopes and goals for the future of Lingerie Fashion Week?
LR: We of course hope to continue to grow and be a worthwhile platform for designers to showcase collections to powerful publicity results each season. Beyond that we simply hope to make our platform more exciting and engaging each season with increased show creativity, collaborations, exhibitions and surrounding special events.
LF: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since the launch?
LR: I think this quote from Steve Jobs sums it up the best: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
LF: Where will the shows take place this year? Is there anything you would like our readers to know about the venue/schedule? Maybe some advice for first-time attendees?
LR: Our venue this season is Canoe Studios. It’s a space of gorgeous photography studios overlooking the Hudson River, that we’ve turned into Runway and Presentation venues, a Sponsor Lounge and more. We have 11 events in total this season, all invitation-only by the participating designers.We as Lingerie Fashion Week however are very excited to present our FW14 Official Closing Party, featuring an Exhibition Runway Show bringing back 10+ of the season’s designers (including a special ‘halftime’ performance presented by Kix’es Thigh Highs and AOS: Art of Stepping) and 15% of all ticket sales benefiting Non-Profit Partner Safe Horizon – the nation’s leading domestic violence & abuse victim assistance organization.