It’s no secret that what we wear affects our mood. When we wear a power suit and heels we can take on the boardroom, a little cocktail dress and a blow dry morphs us all into modern day Marilyns and the right lingerie can turn the quietest mouse into a fully fledged sex kitten. But what about when we’re relaxing at home? There aren’t many options available for stylish yet comfortable loungewear. How many of us resort to baggy grey tracksuit pants or flannel pyjamas? Here at Wigsandgowns we know how most ‘lounge clothes’ make us feel, well, a little bit slobby! Step forward Betty Blue’s Loungerie. Founded by Ms Betty Hobcraft, the brand gives women comfortable yet glamorous garments to recline and relax in. Harking back to the golden age of Hollywood glamour – think Lauren Bacall lounging in a silken robe as Bogie sips a whiskey by the fire – Betty Blue’s Loungerie will transform relaxing at home into a new and alluring experience. Wigsandgowns caught up with Betty to hear about her fabulous brand and her plans for the future!
Wigsandgowns -Tell us a bit about the brand and the concept behind it.
Betty Blue - My brand is called Betty Blue’s Loungerie. The concept behind Betty Blue’s is to get women out of ugly loungewear and into something a little more glamorous. I was frustrated at my loungewear choices. At the moment the market is saturated with grey, slouchy, unshapely and unisex style lounging pants and tops. I pride myself on my appearance when I go out for an evening, so why shouldn’t I be as glamorous when lounging at home! Just because I want to be comfortable doesn’t mean that I want to compromise on style! On the other side of the market there are silken slips of nothing that are highly glamorous, but not that practical on a day-to-day basis. So I set about designing garments to indulge my glamorous side that flatter the female figure, not cover it up, yet are comfortable, practical and usable on a daily basis. I still cater to those who like beautiful slips of silken delights (I am a global brand after all; not every country rains and is cold and miserable!), but I also offer suitable cover-ups so you can layer as you wish.
Wigsandgowns -What’s your background – did you study fashion at University?
Betty Blue -My background is actually in lingerie design and construction. I studied Contour Fashion, at DeMontfort University in Leicester, which is a specialised course concentrating on Lingerie, Corsetry, Swimwear and Performance Sportswear. And I still LOVE Lingerie and everything to do with it, but saw a gap in the market in loungewear. It would have been pointless trying to start a Vintage Style Lingerie company in a recession as there are SO many awesome brands out there already doing that, so my point of difference is loungewear. And I will always have those skills so I can always bring out a lingerie line should I so wish in the future.
Wigsandgowns -Did you always plan on setting up your own brand or did you consider working for another brand? Why?
Betty Blue -Did try to get a job! But they wouldn’t have me! I was very unlucky when I graduated slap bang in the middle of a recession. I really restricted myself in the field and location I wanted to work in (luxury lingerie based in London/the south) which on reflection was kind of self sabotage so I had no other choice but to strike out on my own. I interned for several luxury lingerie companies when I was fresh out of Uni, but it became apparent that they weren’t going to take me on any time soon, if at all. I’m really not good at not knowing what I’m going to be doing in 5/10 years time. I like to be organised and have goals to work towards, so it was a natural conclusion to start my own business. I literally woke up one day and thought why not? And turns out it was the best thing to do! I only wish I had been brave enough to do it sooner!
Wigsandgowns - What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Betty Blue -My biggest challenge is keeping positive. It is so easy to get bogged down with the financial restraints of running your own business, but it can stifle creativity. I have found that if I keep positive then great things start to happen. After all who likes someone who is always moaning! So I try really hard to stop thinking poor thoughts and just keep going. Negativity gets you nowhere in life!
Wigsandgowns - What’s been the biggest highlight?
Betty Blue -My biggest highlight was being invited to Number 10 Downing Street for a drinks reception to celebrate small businesses. It was a very surreal experience that made me think wow, look at little old me rubbing shoulders with famous business people and senior politicians. It made me giggle how blasé other people were about it, like being in Number 10 is an everyday occurrence!
Wigsandgowns -Who would you like to see wearing one of your designs and why?
Betty Blue -I would love Paloma Faith to wear one of my designs. I love her quirky sense of humour and dress sense. And she would look totally HOT in one of my robes .
Wigsandgowns -Is your customer base mostly from the vintage/rockabilly scene?
Betty Blue -Not really. Admittedly they were my target market initially, but because I make and source in the UK my price point is probably a little too high for most. My customers therefore are more likely to be professionals that love to look glamorous and have the disposable income. That isn’t to say that vintage/rockabilly people don’t buy from me, but the majority of my customers don’t dress in a vintage style on a day to day basis. I have also been surprised that I appeal to a more mature customer too. Even some ladies who saw the styles the first time around! I don’t like putting a label on my target market as my clothing really is for anyone who appreciates the luxurious and glamorous things in life and want to celebrate the female form not cover it up.
Wigsandgowns - Where would you like to see the brand in five years time? Do you foresee the brand expanding into other clothing areas?
Betty Blue -In five years time I will be stocked in major department stores and lingerie boutiques all over the world, if my world domination plans go to plan. I do foresee expansion plans to other product areas and perhaps sister brands, but I’m going to keep those under wraps at the moment .
Wigsandgowns - Who is your design hero?
Betty Blue -Hmmmmm difficult one. Do Miss Marple and Poirot count as a design heroes?? I also saw, at Buckingham Palace a few summers ago, the exhibition of the Queen’s dresses which were exquisite; I believe Norman Hartnell was her main designer in the 40’s/50’s. Contemporary design wise, I think the lingerie company Lascivious is amazing. I’m not usually a ‘directional’ design fan but they consistently bring out lingerie designs that have never been seen before and are truly innovators in the industry, so for that I really admire them.
Wigsandgowns - Any tips for emerging designers?
Betty Blue -I have SO many tips I could write a book, but I suppose the main one is innovate don’t imitate. Anyone who is successful in the fashion industry has created their own niche that they by default are the best at. It’s no use imitating other people’s design style, customers want to see something they can’t get anywhere else. And my other tip is calculate how much money you think you need to start a business, then times it by about 3 and you may be closer to what it actually costs. Contrary to popular belief, if you start your own brand it is not a short cut to fame and fortune – it will be a long hard slog so don’t bother if you’re in it for the money!
For more information on Betty Blue’s Loungerie and to purchase fabulous lounge wear visit www.bettybluesloungerie.com.
All photos from Iberian Black Arts