#Power of Businesses l 2018-08-06
Today, we’ll introduce Comfortlab, a lingerie brand that has captivated the hearts of women with its functional yet stylish products. Let’s meet with company president Choi Seon-mi.
I’m a lingerie designer with 20 years of experience. I started my career at the famous lingerie brand Vivien. Later, I worked at various other brands offered by home shopping channels, department stores, road shops and even wholesalers. Designers, including myself, make a lot of effort to produce goods with beautiful designs. But I discovered that there were very few underwear products that were both beautiful and comfortable. As I got older, I wanted comfortable designs but they mostly made my breasts look unattractive or old-fashioned. So I decided to make the ideal design myself.
While working at various lingerie makers, Ms. Choi carefully watched the entire process of how her products were distributed and how consumers responded to them. Based on her rich experience, she founded her own company, Comfortlab, in 2014. From the beginning, she pursued “comfortable yet pretty lingerie” and presented a new trend that would replace traditional underwear.
I got rid of all elements that compressed the breasts, such as wire and tape. That’s what differentiates my lingerie from previous products. Designers generally believe that tape can support the breasts. I wondered whether a bra without tape would really cause sagging. So I decided to take out the tape and give the appropriate level of pressure to the entire bra part instead. As a test, I wore the newly designed bra for six months. After the fitting period ended, I made sure that it performed its function properly. So I made it an official lingerie product.
Most bras are built with a hard wire inserted in the wire channel that circles the bottom of each cup. Thick pads are embedded in the cups so they can remain stable. A hook in the back is used to tighten the bra for a sleek appearance. But the unnatural pressure on the body blocks the circulation of blood, making the wearer feel uncomfortable. It may also cause various diseases like indigestion and reflux esophagitis. To resolve this problem, Choi boldly eliminated the constricting elements. She left out the pad, wire and hook but still enhanced the outer silhouette by applying a desired level of tension to the outer shell and lining of the bra. She also considered fabric, lace and consumers’ responses as well.
We use the hem fabric, which doesn’t become loose even when the wearer uses it for a long time but sticks to the body tightly. We also make our own lace, and it is certainly different from other types of lace. We release the first batch of products to ask consumers for feedback. Based on their opinions, we modify them, if necessary, before releasing the second batch. That’s why customers are satisfied with our goods.
A trend called “body positive” encourages people to love their body just the way it is. With the new trend spreading, comfortable bralettes or bras without padding or underwire are emerging as an alternative to lingerie in foreign countries. A growing number of women in Korea are also showing interest in bralettes, but most products available in the local market don’t give much support, although they are comfortable. Choi continued to research bralettes. She came up with fabric that proved supportive but still resolved the shortcoming of translucence of single-layered underwear. She produced fashionable lace with high elasticity and analyzed the big data about consumer responses. As a result, she was able to release a new product that was supportive and also added comfort and style.
Merchandisers select products and post them on their sales list to lure consumers. Usually, it is difficult for customers to see the products at the bottom of the list. But our product, though it was at the bottom, came in first in terms of sales. The merchandiser was very surprised to see that and reevaluated my company. It turned out that it drew a positive response from an online blog for women, and a lot of customers suddenly scrambled to buy this product. More than 10-thousand pieces were sold on a single day. We had no webpage, but our products sold well through word of mouth. One month after the launch of our webpage, we posted monthly sales of 100 million won. It’s been five months now, and the figure has reached 300 million won.
As Korea’s only bralette maker, Comforlab is drawing an enthusiastic response from many consumers with its highly competitive products that boast comfortable fit, functionality, distinctive style plus affordable prices. It ranked first in the Korean Customer Satisfaction Index in 2015 and 2016. It also won the “Hi Seoul Excellent Product Brand Award” jointly sponsored by Seoul City and the Seoul Business Agency in 2017. The company has now taken its first step toward overseas expansion.
We work with Amazon to export our products to the U.S. We hope to explore markets in China and Southeast Asia, where the body shape of local women is similar to that of Korean women. We see Uniqlo as our role model. We want to make inexpensive lingerie with basic designs so consumers still won’t mind wearing it, three or four years after they get it.
“Change clothes, change common sense and change the world.” This is the philosophy of global fast-fashion brand Uniqlo. As if reflecting the philosophy, Comforlab has brought about a change in women’s underwear. We’re looking forward to the company’s new challenges and achievements.