Designer Spotlight: Van de Velde // Marie Jo & PrimaDonna

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“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.

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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.

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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?

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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

xo ssb

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Designer Spotlight: Empreinte

 

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With it’s namesake derived from the French lyrics “Je ne peux effacer l’empreinte du passé,” which translates to “you can never erase the imprint of the past,” it’s clear from just the name alone, that Empreinte lingerie will leave a lasting impression.

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Founded by Jean Le Her in 1946 just after WWII, Empreinte’s factory initially specialized in making girdles and underskirts for the ladies of Brest, France. In 1948 with the rise of high, pointed busts worn by American fashion models, Mr. Le Her’s two closest collaborators met the latest trends with a new bra style created in cup sizes A, B and C. Always on the cusp of the latest style trends and innovation Empreinte released cup size D in 1960 and size E in 1962. But with the liberation of women’s style in the late 1960s and introduction of Lycra to lingerie in 1968, Empreinte shifted focus from the girdles and underskirts that pioneered their early success to more lightweight and natural looking underwear. The new and improved styles were met with great response from women all over the world as the brand continued to evolve and thrive. In the seventy plus years since its inception Empreinte has grown into the international brand we know and love today, leading the industry in seamless corsetry on rigid lace and embroidery, providing women with an exceptional fit, cutting edge innovation and absolute luxury.

When we had the great pleasure of visiting the Empreinte factory in Brest, France this past January we were simply in awe watching all of these pillars of excellence come together in front of our eyes to create some of our most favorite bras.

When you step foot in the door at Empreinte you can immediately feel that something special is happening. The company that has 130 employees who cut and assemble every single bra in house with fabrics sourced exclusively from Europe prides itself on the upholding the highest standard of excellence. Each of the thirty seamstresses at Empreinte have been trained for no less than one year in each of the operations that takes place at the factory, it will take about three years to train an Empreinte artisan to all the skills she needs. There are approximately thirty different operations, from heated molding, sewing techniques and the precise cutting of each cup to make Empreinte’s signature one piece molded cup. Each bra is inspired by “made to measure” styling, takes almost two years to create from start to sales floor and truly feels like a custom made bra – all due to the patented technology that Empreinte has developed. Empreinte utilizes unparalleled materials in the construction of their bras. Each bra cup is made with a non-stretch lace or tulle, creating a perfect shape for each woman’s breasts. And any issue with discomfort or digging in the bra’s strap has been eliminated with 40% less elasticity than other brands and a strap that widens in design as the cup size goes up. When you’re wearing an Empreinte bra you are literally wearing a piece of perfection, crafted by the experts who emphatically claim to “dress the best breasts in Brest!”

What helps to increase the allure of Empreinte is the air of mystery surrounding the brand.   With Empreinte’s distribution being limited to only three thousand retailers across the world, the brand can only be found at select retailers in the United States and can rarely be found online – so when you’ve found these amazing bras you know it’s something extraordinary! We’re going to let you in on our best secrets and show you some of our favorite styles here. Plus we’ve got all of these beauties in stock at the boutique just waiting for you to come in and try them out! A bra from Empreinte is an investment that you will cherish forever!

empreinte melodyAn Empreinte best seller known for it’s classic shape, t-shirt bra effect and completely seamless cups constructed with Chantilly lace.

 Available in sizes 30D-46G.

 

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The latest addition to the seamless collection boasts Empreinte’s latest innovation in bra cup design featuring molded, rigid embroidered tulle.  This fabulous bra has incredibly light, soft and refined fabric combined with outstanding support. 

Available in sizes 30D-46G

Haven’t experienced the amazing fit and design of Empreinte?  Stop into the boutique any day this week to check out these beautiful bras, get fit by one of our professional bra fitters and leave feeling refreshed, supported and confident!

Already an Empreinte fanatic?  We’ll just leave you with a little sneak peek of what’s in store for our guests come Spring time!

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xo ssb

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