“Circle straps, flower straps, beautiful little pearls”
“Full lace cups, beautiful unmolded lace styles”
Sound like someone describing your favorite bra? Then there’s a 99.9% chance that bra is a Marie Jo or Prima Donna creation, two brands that produce only the best intimates in the world with unparalleled design, fit and comfort.
We were lucky enough to score a coveted invitation to attend a tour inside the mecca that is the parent company of Marie Jo and Prima Donna — Van de Velde and couldn’t wait to fill our guests in on all of the details behind our favorite bras.
Van de Velde, located just outside of Ghent, Belgium in beautiful Schellebelle, a town situated along the Scheldt River, is a company focused on creating a variety of choices in brands, styles and designs to offer women the very best fit.
Since its origin in 1919 the Van de Velde family has built an excellent reputation among the women of Europe for providing exceptional fit, quality and service. From the mid-1940s to the 1980s the brand produced a range of specialized, figure-fixing corsetry under a private label until the third Van de Velde generation took over the marketing and sales strategy in the early 1980s and developed the organization into a full scale company with global production units outside of Belgium.
In time between 1980-2000s the company focused their efforts on creating distinct brands within the Van de Velde organization. It was during this transitional period that our favorite brands were born. In 1981 Van de Velde lingerie is finally given its name: Marie Jolie (which eventually becomes Marie Jo, as we know it today). Recognizing that beautiful lingerie should not have size restrictions, Van de Velde purchases German brand PrimaDonna nine years later in 1990 and the brand evolves to service women of all sizes. Since then Van de Velde has launched several additional brands that tailor toward various women’s styles, e.g., L’Adventure Marie Jo for the sportier customer and PrimaDonna Twist for the younger, trendier customer.
It’s clear that the Van de Velde organization has deep roots in the fashion of intimates for women and an even deeper, more connected base of brand devotees that generated over $200 million in sales for the company in 2015 alone.
But what really makes the VdV brands so special?
It could be the fact that the organization has always had great relationships with boutiques, partners and customers from the very beginning, starting right in it’s hometown of Schellebelle. Or that members of the Van de Velde family still work in the company.
Or… it could be the eighteen month long process required to create just one bra. From the mood boards, inspiration and technical feasibility on the design floor to design test, fabric and raw material preparation to final design decision, the process is painstakingly intricate. There are forty different processes that are performed one just one bra and over forty-five different pieces required just to construct one.
The material inspection processes are so detailed and important to the brand that each employee specializing in this process only works in two hour shifts to maintain sharpness and clarity required to fully inspect each piece of fabric. Elasticity, strength, weight and color are tested by an air pressure mechanism designed to evaluate if the material can withstand up to 145 kpa of pressure before breaking or becoming distressed.
So back to the question, what makes your favorite brands Marie Jo and PrimaDonna so special?
From this trip to Van de Velde and all that we know and love about our MJ & PD bras, we learned that the answer is simple — all of the above. The mantra and brand strategy of VdV is consistent – create quality products researched and developed with precision and care, and focus on the customer.
We love it.
Check out some of our favorite styles from each brand:
Marie Jo — Tom & Avero
achieve a smooth shape every single day. fun circle details on Tom and beautiful daisies on the straps of Avero take these every day basics up a notch. oh, and they’re convertible to racer and halter too!
PrimaDonna — Madison
elegant lace and checkered material create this amazing and supportive full cup bra. featuring fuller side bands and underwire giving a great lift