In you, everything sank! – behind lingerie break-ups (5 ways to lose me as a customer)

The older I get, the more annoyed I get with advertising campaigns and social media accounts. I feel almost embarrassed to state the obvious, but if you’re running a business, you should probably learn how to run your business well. Before people state that I have no idea what I’m talking about, I previously made my livelihood as a manager of a global British brand and in a high-performing store of a multiple CFDA recipient. While social media can be used as an advertising platform (and should be), when it’s solely used as free advertising, I’m no longer a follower. I can just read your website.

Before I begin with all these problems that have bothered me very much as a customer, I want to explicitly state that I do not request samples, nor do I profit by having this blog (all ads listed on the site do not benefit me, but rather, WordPress). I do not use affiliate links. I purchase everything I’ve ever written about unless it was given to me by a friend who has absolutely no affiliation with any company. I have a full-time analyst job and do not wish to pursue other career opportunities outside my industry. This little blog was born out of a longtime love for lingerie and to write about what I liked. Writing about companies I’ve dealt with honestly is important, and I would never ever bully or threaten a brand by using this blog in order to get special treatment – and let’s face it, I’m just an insignificant speck in a sea of well-written blogs. Without further ado, here are five things that I look for in lingerie companies that determine whether or not I will support them or continue to support them in the future.

One drawer from my lingerie armoire.

One drawer from my lingerie armoire.

1. Respond to your customers on social media (and to their emails).
First and foremost, why do companies have social media accounts if they refuse to interact with their customers? I honestly don’t get this. If you don’t care about the “social” part, stick with the “media,” and maintain your website. I’ve tweeted and posted on Gossard’s Facebook page and have even sent in emails inquiring about fit, and to this day, I’ve received nothing. Half the time, their advertised promotions never work, and I see numerous customers inquiring about them with no response. Big “faceless” companies have provided me with better service than Gossard ever has. I unfollowed them on all social media accounts because what’s the point? I can look at pictures on their website if I wanted to. If I ever purchase Gossard again in the future, I’ll purchase from ASOS or a boutique. Perhaps their focus isn’t on retail sales. I don’t know; I can’t figure it out.

2. If your customers are ready to make a purchase, tell them where they can make a purchase if you’re not in the retail business.
After much excitement over Huit’s SS15 collection, I contacted Huit and inquired where I could buy their Fleur de Peau collection. The Ivy colorway was released in December, but after searching for it online at all their linked stockists in January (both international and domestic), I couldn’t find it. I had the money, and I was ready to buy. As a customer, I don’t expect to be catered on every whim nor do I think I’m always right, but I would venture to say that it’s a good thing when your customer has the money, knows what she wants, and is ready to make a purchase. Huit is not in the retail business, so I suppose I can cut them some slack, but simultaneously, I don’t understand why it should require an hour of research to look up where I can buy their products but still come up empty-handed. I was ready to purchase the entire collection, but I spent my money elsewhere. I actually like Huit’s lingerie a lot, so if I see a store carrying their stuff in the future, I will probably make a purchase if I happen to see it.

3. Don’t steal your customers’ pictures.
Captain Obvious, but I’m still shocked I see it happen and find it extremely distasteful when companies like Agent Provocateur do it. Sometimes they give credit, sometimes they don’t; I guess it depends how their PR people feel that day. One customer asked for credit, which AP has ignored without update. If you want to share your customers pictures (please do! this is awesome – I LOVE when companies do this!), please give credit. It should go without saying. If your customers are freely promoting your products, the least you can do is give them credit for any images or posts that come from them. Seriously, don’t steal it.

4. Strongly consider – and reconsider – how your brand is portrayed/advertised.
If you wish to market your brand a certain way, be aware that you may isolate some of your customers. For me, this breakup is with Bordelle. I’ve purchased quite a bit of their lingerie, but after following them on social media, I will not purchase from them again in the future even though I generally like their designs. The incessant “bad/kinky/power bitch” message is incredibly off-putting. While I understand the philosophy behind reclaiming words, I am still uncomfortable with “bitch” for the following reasons: women are still being called bitches for voicing their opinions, and lingerie still has social stigma attached to it. To me, these advertising campaigns feed into the stereotype that lingerie is solely for men or used as a weapon of power over men by a certain “type” of (straight) woman. This may not be an issue for some people, but I personally do not like it. I don’t feel that being called a “bitch” in any sense is empowering, nor do I strive to fit the notion of what a “powerful” woman is to one brand.

I feel that a strong, confident woman can be portrayed much better (for example, Kiss Me Deadly is a brand that comes to mind for female-positive depictions in their advertising campaigns). I closely identify with being a strong, independent woman who has been self-sufficient. I worked long and hard with that one opportunity that appeared after 6 years of tears to get to where I am today. I bought a home. I built a boat. I’ve managed to build a great network of relationships at work and have finaaaaaaally gotten the respect of many men at work in an extremely male-dominated industry.

This scandalous/sexy/naughty thing is neither outrageous nor shocking to me. I just find it completely uninspiring.

5. Promote diversity.
I love, and I mean LOVE, when companies share photos of customers in their lingerie. LOOOOOOVE. While I do post pictures of me in companies’ lingerie for my reviews, if they don’t share it, no big deal. I don’t post for them; I post to show fit and how it looks on my body for others who may be looking for customer photos and notes. However, when companies just post customer pictures of their lingerie on thin, pretty, and tall white women even when their “other” customers share their photos, I can’t even deal with it. I mentioned this on Twitter, but if you’re a company who allegedly promotes diversity and women of all sizes, don’t curate your clientele. As a customer, this gives me the impression that you only want certain women of a certain “standard” to be shown in your lingerie. Nope & goodbye forever.

If you’re a company who doesn’t realize, recognize, or care about minority buying power or the plus-sized market, for example, learn. Furthermore, this comment should not be interpreted as to changing your niche market, nor is this to say that if you make small busted products, to start making full busted products. There are numerous companies that I admire and respect and will try to support in some shape or form even if their products are not marketed towards me. Diversity is also not exclusive to the color of one’s skin nor their size but also inclusive of sexual/gender identity/orientation.

I had touched upon this in a previous post, but I’m starting to realize that diversity is a big deal to me. I would venture to say that I’m willing to support companies based on this characteristic alone. This is just an observation, but if a company cares this much about diversity, chances are, the products they offer would be of – at least – good quality.

I speak primarily for myself as a customer, but I believe in brand loyalty and continuing support brands who value me as a customer. With these types of companies, I buy things at full price instead of only during a sale. I am willing to pay for high-quality, well-made items. Loyalty has always been important to me, and I really wish it was a quality that was still valued by many companies today.

I’m curious: as a customer, what are your dealbreakers? Are there any brands you will not purchase from? I would love to have an open discussion about this! By the way, if you are a huge fan of some of the brands I’ve had problems with, great! Please keep in mind that my bad experience does not negate your good experience and vice versa. I am not here to change your mind, nor am I here to discourage you from shopping with them ever again. :)

  1. Amber said:

    Love this post! Yes, there are definitely some brands I don’t buy from or follow because of their marketing techniques, them not being inclusive and diverse, and also lack of responses or lack of understanding of PR and bloggers. It irks me when brands kind of ignore lingerie bloggers. If I share your brand on my bog, I”m not expecting money or a pat on the back, but to outright ignore bloggers and act like they do nothing to help your business/bring you sales is just ignorant and misguided. It was only until recently have more brands become blogger-friendly. I can think of a few who aren’t, in my eyes anyway, those are brands I tend to avoid. I’d rather share a brand on my blog that has quality lingerie *and* treats their customers and bloggers well. I also don’t deal with bodysnark, slut-shaming, or any other derogatory notions towards women via brands/marketing/shops. Nope. Can’t do it. There are so many other brands that are great and doing it right, that I see no point in showcasing brands on *my* that don’t deserve the coverage (in my opinion).

    • Miss Mew said:

      Hi, Amber! I wish more people spoke out about their experiences with brands – both positive *and* negative. If a brand improves, I’m totally willing to give them a second chance, but to be honest, there are so many awesome lingerie companies that there’s no reason to shop with the ones who can’t run their business well. While advertising is a matter of preference (and not always a dealbreaker for me), other issues like lack of responses/diversity/etc. are definitely worthy of whether or not a brand may be recommended.

      Full disclosure: I actually have not had any brands approach me for reviews, and I’m 100% okay with it! I personally enjoy interacting with all the wonderful people I’ve met in the community more than anything. I’m perfectly fine if other blogs review samples as long as that’s disclosed. One of my good lingerie lovelies has had some nightmarish experiences with some brands that she privately told me about, and I actually will not shop with them EVER. (I would name names, but she told me in confidence, so alas, mum’s the word there!)

      I love a lot of the indie brands you showcase, and I’ve made a handful of purchases from companies I would’ve never known about if you hadn’t written about them. :)

      • Amber said:

        Aww thats so awesome! Thanks so much for saying that. Yes, I love buying handmade and supporting small business. I also find that handmade quality lingerie is just as good if not better than a lot of larger brands. I won’t name names either, just for the sake of being “professional” ;) but I totally agree with you! There are definitely deal breakers. I have bought from brands if they’ve made one mistake, depending on the offense, but more often than not I tend to steer clear of brands that I just don’t feel like I can trust/relate to. I’m so surprised you haven’t done any reviews for brands! I review stuff I’ve purchased, but I am also open to product reviews (not for payment though) and I always try to be as honest as I can be regardless if I purchased the product or not. Your blog is one of my favorites, so while you totally have every right *not* to work with brands re: reviews, I’m just surprised no one has contacted you re: press samples/blogger samples! I just really love your approach and your personality and your taste in lingerie! :)

      • Miss Mew said:

        You’re the sweetest, Amber! xxxx

        I totally understand how there’s a degree of being professional when it comes to naming names. I see how precarious the position can be because some people would probably say that this blogger is mad because they didn’t get free things, etc. It’s definitely drama I’d avoid. :)

  2. Wonderful read and solid insights. You touch on two of my personal pet peeves: the legions of lingerie models who may as well be clones, and the excessive sexualization of lingerie meant for everyday wear (versus that designed for erotic pursuits). On the first point, there’s nothing wrong with slender, light-skinned, long-haired young women, but I’m tired of looking at them all the time. Variety is the spice of life, no? On the second point, I appreciate interesting photography, and I appreciate good style, but I don’t like being bombarded with someone’s else sexual mores. I can do without the fuck-me stares and submissive poses.

    Thank you for writing this, and kudos to retaining your blogger independence. While there’s nothing wrong with bloggers accepting work or samples from lingerie brands, it’s unreasonable to expect to remain unbiased, and it’s insulting when they imply that they are. I’ve also noticed some hypocrisy, notably highlighting the questionable practices of brands they are unaffiliated with, while glossing over or misrepresenting the business practices of brands that they are affiliated with. It’s remarkably unprincipled.

    Enough of my rambling… are you going to write a post on building your boat? That sounds amazing! :)

    • Miss Mew said:

      Wow! Thank you for the wonderful, thoughtful comment! I completely agree with your two pet peeves, which is what caused me to write this post. Definitely – nothing wrong with the models that are currently used (and I do find the ladies pretty), but the prevalence and implication of looking and acting a certain way in order to be perceived as beautiful is just… infuriating at best.

      In one of my previous posts, I had touched on the diversity of women while at Victoria’s Secret (the show offers good physical diversity but that’s about it). I hadn’t been in a VS in years, and I was shocked to see the breadth of women who were there. I would have never guessed based on their advertisements. Women there were ready to spend money! I know companies like VS have a certain consumer, but simultaneously, their consumer base is so diverse that it’s almost insulting how lingerie is marketed by them.

      I kind of don’t understand how some companies are able to get away with their advertising, though. As you’ve succinctly worded, the “fuck-me stares and submissive poses,” are almost condescending to women in this day and age, and they don’t help when every day women are shown wearing lingerie. I was shocked when one of my intelligent feminist friends was horrified for me when she had seen a picture of me in lingerie – even though I was more covered up than in a bikini!

      I’ve noticed some discrepancies myself (and like you, I have no problems if bloggers are reviewing samples), and I don’t want to find myself falling into that vein. I think it is hard when you do end up friendly with, but for me, if/when my blog stops being an honest place for me, I don’t see the point in writing it anymore. I was initially hesitant about writing this post but eventually had no problems once I got started. I’m a legitimate paying customer!

      I actually had started writing a building journal about the boat. It isn’t fancy – just a simple rowboat made of marine plywood. I primarily finished it although there are certain things I never got around to… like screwing the top seat and redoing the brightwork. The boat is sitting in a shed, and I tested her once – so no leaks, woo! I’m hoping if i ever have enough saved to have a carport constructed, I’d refinish her. I used Devlin Boats’ Polliwog boat plans. I’ll have to drop you a link later since I try to keep my personal/professional life separate due to my job and my affiliation with a nonprofit :)

  3. I’ve already said so on Twitter, but I just wanted to say I love this blog post, and I think all the comments you’ve made are absolutely spot on. When I used to work with brands on their social media, I talked to so many companies who wanted customer comments and customer interactions…but didn’t actually want to do the work of responding to people. It’s so bizarre. I understand, if you have a very large fanbase, that answering everyone may not be a possibility, but at least make an effort to get to some people, you know?

    In the past year, I’ve also really noticed the issues with companies stealing customer photos and curating/showcasing only a specific kind of consumer…one who is invariably white, thin, young, and conventionally attractive. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of those qualities, but the idea that some customers “count” more than other customers just rubs me the wrong way. There’ve been a few brands I’ve edged away from as a result…because why go where you’re not really wanted?

    Anyway, you’ve said all that and so have your other commenters. This piece just really resonated with me.

    • Miss Mew said:

      Thanks for the comment, Cora! I’ve always appreciated the diversity content that you and your columnists have shared on TLA – so many good questions and points being raised. As I mentioned to you on Twitter, I’m seriously shocked that some brands approach you with the strong implication that they want their lingerie to be seen and worn in a specific, excluding manner. Disappointing. I’m glad that you don’t feature brands who do this.

      And yes – why go where you’re not wanted? I get the impression that so many women try to become what a brand/company wants/expects them to because said brand is the ONLY option. IMO, it just perpetuates the stigma that a cup size bigger than a DD or a band size below 32 is gross/abnormal/boyish/whatever adjective du jour. Thank god for the internet and all the lingerie writers out there!

  4. Avigayil said:

    Everything you said – perfect. <3 Been there soooo many times. I also have a hard time with companies that falsely advertise their product. If you advertise something as white and when it comes the product is beige – no. no no no. I often find that bras change going up cup sizes from the bra the model is wearing. larger cup sizes will often have a significantly higher gore, or less/more lace up top, or turn a 2 part cup into a 3 part cup (had this happen once and was like wtf!) without saying it anywhere or showing proper images. It is hard enough figuring out size, but you lose me as a customer when you fail to accurately represent your own product.
    Fabulous post! <3

    • Miss Mew said:

      Hey darling, I’m so sorry it took me a bit to respond. And yes! Those are great points you make, too! It really irks me when companies say their businesses aren’t doing well because of their customers. Honestly, that’s such bullshit. More than 99% of the time, it’s the people who are running the company that are causing poor sales and customers leaving them for others who do it right.

  5. Losing me as a customer comes as easily as either not replying to me on social media, not having a return policy (exchange or store credit only? Come on) and not having accurate representation of products in photos. If it’s pictured with a bow, it should come with a bow. If it’s pictured as hot pink, it shouldn’t be coral or baby pink when it arrives. Like the other comments have said, this is a fantastic article xx

    • Miss Mew said:

      Yes! The social media aspect is such a sore point with me. Why be on social media if you don’t want to be social? Makes zero sense. The ones who selectively respond are also the worst. Everything else you’ve said is spot on – thank goodness for the shops who run their businesses well!

  6. piper puffin said:

    I agree with most of what you say except Bordelle. You may not like the sexy kinky thing, but many women find this extremely empowering, and they shouldn’t be shamed for it. It is nice to have a choice. Bordelle’s artistic vision suits a very particular niche, and it is working for them. Not every customer can expect every brand to speak to them. Most importantly, I dont feel Bordelle exploits women, like other sexy / kinky brands do.

    Another example, I really dislike “basics” brands like pansy or baserange, because I feel the asexual nature is somehow inferring that “girly” things are inherently bad and we should dress like men or be unadorned to be taken seriously. They will never have me as a customer, but I know a lot of women who feel the exact opposite way, and find this empowering, and they will be their customers. I am happy for them.

    I think it is better to have variety and market to a niche, then to make “one size fits all” If you dont fit a niche, it is not for the brand to change to suit one person. It is up to that one person to find a brand / designer / artist that speaks to them :) Variety and artistic expression are to be celebrated and tolerated.

    • As you dislike “basic” brands, I dislike Bordelle’s direction, especially with their distasteful and misguided attempts at orientalism — which I find incredibly offensive as a WoC. You’re entitled to your own opinion, and you’re always more than welcome to disagree with me. I agree that variety and artistic expression are to be celebrated and tolerated. This is my blog, and therefore, my opinion on a brand I dislike.

      The post is titled “5 ways to lose me as a customer.” What I find unappealing (especially with a brand that has dabbled in yellowface) may not be a point of concern for other women. I acknowledge and recognize that.

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