Victoria's Secret lingerie challenged by Parade, a start-up selling underwear for all body shapes, founded by 24-year-old Cami Téllez

Skims, direct-to-consumer firms, bralettes, Naomi Osaka

Cami Téllez never liked buying underwear, but maybe that’s why the 24-year-old is suited to take on Victoria’s Secret.

As a teen in Princeton, in the US state of New Jersey, her visits to the biggest retailer in women’s undergarments left her feeling inadequate, or worse. There were the images of supermodels in that faux boudoir setting cribbed from some male fantasy. And then came the products, like a push-up bra called the Bombshell that promised to add two cup sizes.

Victoria’s Secret “made me feel like I wasn’t enough”, said Téllez, a first-generation American whose family is from Colombia. “It wasn’t a brand for me or for people who looked like me.”

By the time Téllez entered her senior year at Columbia University in 2018, she’d had enough. In her eyes, Victoria’s Secret was still helping maintain a “cultural hegemony” over what’s supposed to be pretty, and that was hurting women. #MeToo was in full swing.

Skims, direct-to-consumer firms, bralettes, Naomi Osaka

Parade founder Cami Téllez held a quick Facebook survey to find out how women felt about buying underwear.

Others had to be sick of this, too, she thought. She aimed to find out by posting online polls in Facebook groups. Téllez got 10,000 respondents in two days and a definitive answer. No matter which part of America she asked, attitudes were the same: lots of women disliked buying underwear, too.

From there, Téllez moved quickly. She created a 40-page plan – including a logo – in two days. The brand was called Parade because the word “feels celebratory, but also it’s about collective action”, she said. In early 2019, she dropped out of college to pursue her idea. About six months later, she secured her first investors.

Despite being in her 20s, Téllez had been around the start-up world for some time. Her father, Omar Téllez, has worked as an executive at young tech companies. (He doesn’t have a formal role at Parade.) She also had a job at an online mortgage start-up and interned at a venture capital firm.

Anchored by colourful basics starting at US$8 and marketing filled with diverse faces and bodies, Parade won over teens and younger 20-somethings – the oldest members of the Generation Z cohort that established brands are desperately trying to lure. A little more than two years after its debut, Parade is valued at US$140 million.

The company declined to share revenue numbers. However, according to Bloomberg Second Measure, which analyses anonymous credit card transactions, sales have more than tripled this year.

They were sold something based on their insecurities by people who didn’t look like them

Cami Téllez on respondents to her survey that led her to found Parade

“We want to become the next big underwear brand for everyone,” said Téllez, who serves as Parade’s chief executive officer and creative director.

Taking more than US$40 million from investors so far has no doubt raised the stakes.

Nowadays, the cost barriers to starting a consumer brand have been drastically reduced by e-commerce and sophisticated digital advertising. In women’s underwear and basics, there are a slew of brands, including ThirdLove and Skims, selling similar, simple designs, with marketing also aimed at various body types.

Skims, direct-to-consumer firms, bralettes, Naomi Osaka

A model wears underwear from Parade. Its sales have more than tripled in the past year, according to Bloomberg Second Measure.

Amid the boom in digital brands, or what are often called direct-to-consumer firms, lots of companies have found a slice of customers for an initial pop, but most plateau after that. Téllez and Parade, which has 50 employees, are now at that step, essentially having to prove themselves again. And to get there, the company is leaning on a well-worn expansion playbook for brands founded online.

Parade, based in New York, is opening its first store next month in Manhattan’s SoHo neighbourhood. It turns out that a store is still a good way to acquire customers, and with digital ad rates continuing to rise, it’s now often less expensive.

The store “aims to rewrite the way that people interact with their underwear”, Téllez said during a tour of the unfinished store. She offered little on how exactly that will be accomplished, but more locations are being considered. “We’re going to be aggressive and opportunistic in our approach to expanding.”

In the underwear category, about 80 per cent of sales still happen in a store, according to Téllez. That’s why the brand is also working on wholesale deals to sell its goods through established retailers across the US as soon as next year, she said, while declining to discuss potential retail partners.

The company has also expanded into adjacent categories – another hallmark of digital brands – with bralettes, tank-tops and loungewear.

Parade’s ambition comes as Victoria’s Secret tries to mend itself. The brand had been sputtering for a few years, and then in 2019, long-time CEO Les Wexner’s close ties to Jeffrey Epstein surfaced. Wexner’s connection to Epstein, who was charged with sex-trafficking minors before dying in prison, renewed scrutiny of the company and dovetailed with allegations of sexual harassment in its ranks.

Skims, direct-to-consumer firms, bralettes, Naomi Osaka

Parade has expanded into bralettes, tank-tops and loungewear (above).

All the bad publicity didn’t help matters. Parent company L Brands spun off Victoria’s Secret earlier this year into its own public company. Its executives now talk in terms of transforming a brand that still generated US$4.6 billion in sales in the first three quarters of this financial year.

Marketing has been overhauled to include plus-sized and transgender models. The angels, that group of scantily clad supermodels that tormented Téllez, have been retired. It has also brought on prominent female celebrities, including tennis star Naomi Osaka and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Victoria’s Secret is focused on “creating an inclusive environment for our associates, customers and partners to celebrate, uplift and champion all women”, the company said in response to being asked about Téllez’s criticisms.

Téllez is convinced she is tapping into an open space with a brand that’s designed for Gen Z by Gen Z. Parade aims to make customers feel good about their bodies, avoiding oversexed looks, she said.

Skims, direct-to-consumer firms, bralettes, Naomi Osaka

Underwear from Parade modelled by actress Sydney Sweeney.

The brand’s models have everyday aesthetics, with tattoos and stretch marks. And the products don’t make people look like they are trying to seduce someone, with their vibrant colours and lack of lace and push-ups.

Targeting teenagers and twenty-somethings is a smart move because many brands are focused on courting millennials because they have more money right now, according to Janine Stichter, an analyst at Jefferies. “Parade’s really different from what’s out there,” she said.

Another big differentiator is Téllez, according to Jason Stoffer, a partner at venture capital firm Maveron, which has a stake in Parade and a history of investing in digital-first brands that includes Allbirds and Everlane.

Skims, direct-to-consumer firms, bralettes, Naomi Osaka

Parade is a celebration of diversity and inclusivity.

When it comes to start-ups, founders are often what attracts investment, even more than the actual business. Stoffer, who is also on Parade’s board, said Téllez possesses a “special” mix of business savvy and creativity.

Stoffer points to how the brand has quickly connected with customers as not only a sign of Téllez’s “incredible creative talent”, but also how the company will keep growing and defending its business.

“We see thousands of women posting selfies of themselves in their underwear on social media,” Stoffer said. “Whenever you’re taking a selfie in a way that’s vulnerable in that regard, what you’re really saying is this is a brand I trust.”

Téllez landed on a similar theme after asking women what they want.

“They were sold something based on their insecurities by people who didn’t look like them,” Téllez said of the women who responded to her poll questions three years ago. The world was changing, and underwear wasn’t keeping up.”

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Aldi Is Selling A Heated Dressing Gown But They're Going Fast

Aldi‘s heated dressing gown, sold out online, but in stores now. (Photo: Aldi) We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. ... Read more »

China's digital currency: Meituan expands e-CNY payments to offline merchants ahead of Lunar New Year

China’s leading on-demand service provider Meituan on Wednesday began allowing more than 200 types of offline merchants – including restaurants, grocery stores, cinemas, and hotels – to accept payments in ... Read more »

Coming era of stagflation and wealth destruction will be boon to working class

The world is entering a period of stagflation, with inflation significantly above the economic growth rate. The world’s major central banks are unlikely to halt the trend by raising interest ... Read more »

K-drama review: All of Us Are Dead – Netflix's high-octane zombie action-drama has a troubling moral core

2/5 stars After debuting in the South Korean market three years ago with period horror-drama Kingdom, streaming giant Netflix has circled back to zombies with its latest tentpole series All ... Read more »

Kate Middleton steps out in leopard print midi dress for first solo appearance of 2022

Photo credit: WPA Pool – Getty Images The Duchess of Cambridge stepped out for her first solo royal engagement of the year on Wednesday (26 January) morning, as she paid ... Read more »

Luxury house on The Peak formerly owned by bankrupt HNA Group sells at a loss of US$15.4 million

A luxury house on The Peak in Hong Kong has reportedly been sold by creditors of the bankrupt Chinese conglomerate HNA Group at a loss of some HK$120 million (US$15.4 ... Read more »

Chinese version of TikTok promotes traditional dance and music as Beijing pushes to clean up internet content

China’s most popular short-video app Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok that is also owned by ByteDance, announced a new initiative on Tuesday to support domestic live-streamers who promote traditional ... Read more »

US-China tech war: Shenzhen to establish international sourcing platform for semiconductors as global chip shortage persists

China will develop an international sourcing platform for semiconductors and other electronic components in Shenzhen – known as the country’s Silicon Valley and the richest city in southern Guangdong province ... Read more »

Hong Kong retail banks are having their worst time in a decade as low interest rates crimp profits

Hong Kong’s retail banks are having their worst time in a decade, as the low interest rates amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic crimped profit margins across the industry for the ... Read more »

Killer keto cakes, dreamy dim sum: Hong Kong food picks of a dessert-obsessed designer

Kev Yiu is the chief creative designer of Sennet Frères, a European bridal gown and jewellery label. Yiu recently collaborated with Disney to create a line of wedding dresses and ... Read more »

Climate Change: World must almost double investment to US$9.2 trillion a year to hit Paris Agreement goals, says McKinsey

The world will need to invest US$9.2 trillion a year in the infrastructure of the sectors most prone to carbon dioxide emissions in the coming three decades if the Paris ... Read more »

How AI can help deliver on metaverse's promise of a better future

The metaverse refers to the convergence of physical, augmented and virtual reality in a shared online space. The result will be a merging of real and virtual worlds to create ... Read more »

Super Junior's Eunhyuk, Eric of The Boyz and 3 iKon members among wave of K-pop stars testing positive for Covid-19 amid surge in South Korea

Several K-pop stars have tested positive this week for the Omicron Covid-19 variant amid South Korea’s recent wave of cases. The country reported a record high of 8,571 daily cases ... Read more »

Lunar New Year drawings warding off evil spirits adorn Gwanghwamun

A set of “munbaedo,” or traditional drawings to ward off evil spirits, is hung on Gwanghwamun, the main gate to Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul, Wednesday. Yonhap By Park Han-sol ... Read more »

Jidu, Baidu's smart EV arm raises US$400 million to accelerate development of first production model with L4 autonomous driving technology

Jidu Automotive, the smart electric vehicle (EV) arm of Baidu, has received nearly US$400 million in the latest round of financing to support the development and production of a car ... Read more »

10 K-pop stars with bizarre breakout stories: BTS' V accompanied a friend to the audition, Got7's BamBam was inspired by his Rain-loving mum, and NCT's Taeyong only joined because he got free food

Being a K-pop star is the dream of many youngsters with visions of global fame – just think of the wealth it brings, the luxury homes and the fancy destinations ... Read more »

Used cars cost more than a luxury flat in Sri Lanka amid economic tailspin

Supermarket shelves are bare and restaurants can’t serve meals, but Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a bonanza for used car dealers, with vehicle shortages pushing prices higher than a house ... Read more »

Four Seasons hotel chef on the secret to three Michelin stars, creating dim sum for Lung King Heen and what he eats at home

“[When I was young] we didn’t really celebrate [Lunar New Year] as my family wasn’t well off. A day or two before the New Year, we just got some new ... Read more »

YouTube is exploring NFTs for video creators, CEO says, following Twitter's support for blockchain-based images

YouTube is exploring adding non-fungible token features for its video creators, chief executive officer Susan Wojcicki wrote to the site’s broadcasters on Tuesday. Although Wojcicki didn’t say exactly what her ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency tycoons are entrusting their digital wealth to ‘gamefi' services in the metaverse by technology firms

Blockchain gaming giant Animoca Brands is betting that its new joint venture with start-up Hex Trust will usher in a milestone for the metaverse. It is looking to provide services ... Read more »

Mark Zuckerberg's Diem cryptocurrency plans unravel as Meta weighs sale amid regulatory pressure

The controversial cryptocurrency project that Mark Zuckerberg once defended in front of Congress is unravelling after regulatory pressure. The Diem Association, a cryptocurrency initiative once known as Libra backed by ... Read more »

Realtors pay bigger-than-average bonuses after 12 months of record sales in Hong Kong defied city's Covid-19 outbreak and gloomy job market

Hong Kong’s realtors will increase the bonus cheques of their clerical staff this year, after 12 months of record property transactions that defied the city’s gloomy labour market and a ... Read more »

Tencent, NetEase push Hong Kong stocks higher as investors shrug off Fed rate rise concerns

Hong Kong stocks snapped a two-day losing streak, with tech stocks leading the charge, shaking off jitters of a hawkish Federal Reserve. Oil-related stocks rose on geopolitical tensions. The Hang ... Read more »

Future of beauty and fragrance is at SCAD

Meloney Moore, Associate dean, School of Business Innovation of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) / Courtesy of SCAD For more than 40 years, the Savannah College of ... Read more »

STYLE Edit: Richard Mille debuts the new signature Rafael Nadal watch, the RM 35-03 that features an ingenious butterfly rotor complication and shifts into sports mode like a breeze

Not many watches boast a whole new form of horological complication. But then the RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal, a timepiece that brought together two legendary names, is no ordinary ... Read more »

Nvidia prepares to abandon US$40 billion Arm bid amid antitrust scrutiny

Nvidia Corp is quietly preparing to abandon its purchase of Arm Ltd from SoftBank Group Corp after making little to no progress in winning approval for the US$40 billion chip ... Read more »

Hotels in Asia-Pacific likely to see surge in investment this year as coronavirus restrictions ease, JLL report says

Hotels in Asia-Pacific are likely to receive investment of more than US$9 billion this year, a 30 per cent increase from 2021, as countries begin to ease their Covid-19 restrictions ... Read more »

China's top money managers bet on more tech stocks, cut liquor producers to boost returns amid policy challenges

China’s biggest fund managers increased their bets on technology and green-energy stocks at the expense of liquor distillers, taking advantage of depressed valuations following a trillion-dollar sector crash. They had ... Read more »

Singapore's higher property tax to have short-term impact on home sales as buyers reconsider options, analysts say

Property demand in Singapore is likely to remain subdued in the first half of the year as buyers digest the latest cooling measures rolled out by the city state, analysts ... Read more »

China to be the biggest luxury market by 2025, say consultants, after Chinese spending in sector doubled from 2019 to 2021

Around 21 per cent of global consumer spending on luxury goods in 2021 came from China. According to Bain & Company, the Chinese are expected to become the world’s largest ... Read more »

Forex investors are well placed to profit from divergent US and Chinese monetary policies

With China and the United States going in opposite directions on monetary policy, investors will need to identify how best to benefit from this. In the currency space, this will ... Read more »

Lawmakers from UK, EU and other countries call for blacklists over Uygur treatment in Xinjiang

A group of 35 lawmakers from the United Kingdom, the European Union and other countries have called on their nations to create blacklists to block investors from funding companies associated ... Read more »

Britain to review anti-dumping sanctions on Chinese-made steel

The United Kingdom said on Tuesday that it is conducting a review of anti-dumping measures on Chinese heavy steel plates first put in place nearly six years ago to determine ... Read more »

China introduces state-backed NFT platform unlinked to cryptocurrencies

China’s state-backed Blockchain Services Network (BSN) on Tuesday announced a soft launch of a nationwide infrastructure to support Chinese non-fungible tokens (NFTs), marking a key step towards creating a domestic ... Read more »

Embattled developer Kaisa Group to resume construction at project in Foshan after receiving funds held in escrow accounts

Embattled Chinese developer Kaisa Group has pledged to resume construction at a project in Foshan in the southern province of Guangdong after funds held in escrow accounts were returned to ... Read more »

China steps up drive against cyberbullying, fake news, online scams during Lunar New Year holiday

China’s cyberspace watchdog has initiated a new campaign to sweep out unwanted internet content – from doxxing, fake news and fabricated sad personal stories to those that flaunt wealth, fortunetelling ... Read more »

Tencent says its anti-graft campaign investigated 50 cases of bribery and embezzlement last year

Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings said it fired nearly 70 employees last year for behaviour that included accepting bribes and offering fake online internships for money, as the company continued ... Read more »

China unveils 10 measures to save energy and cut emissions as it takes steps to achieve 2060 carbon neutral goal

Beijing has unveiled 10 measures to conserve energy and reduce emissions, urging energy-intensive industries to deploy green projects and undertake upgrades to meet certain targets by 2025, to support its ... Read more »

GFriend's Yuju launches her solo career with album Rec., and the Korean singer is ready to be the star of her own show

Choi Yu-na, a former member of K-pop girl group GFriend who goes by her stage name Yuju, has debuted as a solo artist with the release of her album, Rec. ... Read more »

Online fast fashion shop Shein planning New York IPO as founder weighs citizenship change amid tighter regulations

Chinese fashion retailer Shein is reviving plans to list in New York this year and its founder is considering a citizenship change to bypass proposed tougher rules for offshore IPOs ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic