A couple of weeks ago I was invted by Holly-Lucy of Tea and Blush down to Panache HQ in Sheffield to learn more about their brand and how it all works behind the scenes, from initial ideas to being on sale. Honestly, I had a lot to learn!
Panache are an underwear brand that have been around for over 30 years. They specialise in underwear for the larger chested lady which is one of the reasons why I probibilly hadn’t heard of them until now, I wasn’t their target moarket. Or so I thought…more on that later.
We were greated by the fabulously friendly and knowledgeable staff, who talked us through the brand, their history, the different ranges and answered all our questions. They all worked in different areas covering everything from design and product development, to marketing, to customer analysis and beyond, which gave a great overall view into a business I’ve never really looked at in detail before.
Panache’s brand is actually split into different areas, all keeping up with upcoming trends while still keeping in mind the needs of their customers. There’s Cleo, aimed at young, on trend customers with bright colours and patterns. Panache sport, which among other thing is the first underwear brand to create a sports bra for larger busted women with underwiring. I don’t know about you but the idea of running without an underwire bra makes my boobs hurt just thinking about it. Apparently they did a lot of testing on their sports products before hand including having women running topless to test the shock absorption, can you imagine? Ouch! Then there’s Sculptress, for larger more curvy women who want to look and feel confident. Panache Black is their glamerous range for women who love a bit of something special, and lastly Panache Swim, for those of us who need a bit more support when hitting the beach.
Another thing I learnt was that they choose to display their modles in what they call “women sexy, not men sexy”. This means using powerful poses, minimal touch ups and had a campaign named Modeled By Role Models which involved insperational women not often used in these campaigns such as Hannah Cockroft the paralympion and Rachel Elliot, one of the nurses working with ebola patients in the recent devastating outbreak.
They have offices worldwide but their head office is in little old Sheffield, we were given a full tour of the facilities including the factory sewing room, something that is very unusual in UK businesses these days.
One of the stranger things I learnt was the concept of a half cup, if, like me, you assume this was some kind of racy Ann Summer’s number you are wrong. It is simply half a bra. It’s what the designers use to test out an idea or concept without the extra time and expense of having to create a full bra. As they have machinists in house, they can make it in much less time than if they were waiting for it to be shipped in from abroad.
Lastly, back to that revelation I had and why this is now the brand for me. I happened to be wearing a strapless bra this day that was a size too small, and was absolutely killing me all day. I was wearing a 32D when I should have been wearing a 32DD so it was my own fault. When they ofered to measure me I thought why not, I did sheepishly exsplain I was in a size too small, she disagreed, I was actually several sizes too small. It turns out I am a 32F not a 32DD, no wonder I was so desperate to take my bra off when I get in from work!
Luckily I have a lovely new underwear set to start me off on my new collection. I picked this beautiful neutral polkadot 2 piece from the Cleo collection. I can’t tell you how much better it is wearing underwear that actually fits! It’s comfortable and completely changes my body shape, no more four boob syndrome.
Do you wear Panache?