The Interview: Zoe Price-Smith, Chief Design and Product Officer at Boux Avenue
Zoe Price-Smith has held the position of Chief Design and Product Officer at Boux Avenue since February 2019. In her role, she applies over 20 years of design experience, helping to elevate the business and engage with more customers.
The high-street lingerie retailer was founded in 2011 and is owned by retail tycoon Theo Paphitis. In the past four years, Price-Smith has successfully brought the entire design process in-house and focused on the brand's target consumers, which has driven revenues up. In 2022, the company reported that sales were up 9.1% in the year prior, despite the impact of the pandemic.
TheIndustry.fashion talks to Zoe Price-Smith about navigating the lingerie retail space and appealing to various shoppers, as well as Boux Avenue’s winning design formula.
What was your first job when you joined the Boux Avenue team?
My first call of action when I joined Boux Avenue was to bring the design in-house. It was my mission to elevate the brand through unique, aspirational and trend-led designs. In the last four years, I have expanded the design and product teams, who have helped immensely to build a special handwriting for Boux Avenue - meaning that when a customer sees our product they don't need to look at the label to know it is from Boux Avenue.
I am excited to say that we are now designing around 2,000 different lingerie sets each year, so we are a very busy team. Busy but passionate!
Have you seen a change in what consumers are interested in since you joined the brand?
Yes and no is the honest answer!
When I say no, it is because our customer is still buying into our continuity lace style designs, which is why we update them with a new colourway each season.
In fact, our most popular and in-demand continuity style is the Mollie plunge bra, which sells every 10 seconds business wide and has over 1.8K - 5 Star reviews, with customers complimenting the fit, comfort and style of the bra.
I'd also say yes, as we have seen that our customer is more open to trying new styles. When we launch a new season collection we are always trailing new trend-worthy, catwalk-inspired designs. For example last summer we brought out the Saffie Leg Harness which sold out in 7 weeks. We have been introducing more leg harness sets since, and the reaction is always positive.
We have managed to still please our loyal customers but, we have also been able to grow our Boux community by bringing in a wide range of new customers over the last four years. This is down to us creating luxurious, fashionable designs, as well as expanding our marketing strategies to continue to grow brand awareness through Influencer marketing, PR and Digital Marketing.
Inclusivity has been a key focus in the industry in recent years, how does Boux Avenue champion these ideals?
Inclusivity is extremely important. We are one of the few brands that offer stunning detailed lingerie sets that go up to a G cup, you definitely won’t find just a boring t-shirt bra if you are a larger bust.
We also champion this through our campaign imagery, using a mixture of different-size models so the imagery is both aspirational and relatable. At Boux we believe that lingerie can make you feel empowered, sexy and confident.
This is also shown through our e-commerce imagery. - with all of our bras that are available up to a G cup we shoot on a model in B-D cup category and a model in DD to G cup category so you can visualise better.
However, we know this is also an area we can continue to improve on as well, and will continue to work on in the future. Whether that is through our products with more skin tone colour options, sizing, or our marketing materials with more diverse and inclusive models.
What sets Boux Avenue apart from other lingerie brands on the market?
There are three key factors that set us apart from other lingerie brands. Design, Quality and Fit.
We work on our collections a year in advance, so we are always having to be on top of what are going to be the key trends for the following year and we do this by looking at catwalks. This helps us pull together key colour palettes for the collections, along with inspiration for embroidery and lace designs.
When it comes to quality we work with some of the top lace manufacturers to ensure we are bringing the highest quality we can to our product, along with going through extensive quality control checks.
We also believe the lingerie should fit you and not you trying to fit into your lingerie. This is why we are always reminding our community to have regular bra fits, as a staggering 81% of females in the UK are actually wearing the wrong bra size. You should really have a bra fitting every 6 months as the bust can fluctuate in size. Luckily we offer free bra fits in our stores, along with advice on our website on how you can measure yourself at home.
You’ve recently launched the Valentine’s Day collection, what was your inspiration?
The latest Valentine’s collection is made up of both traditional and fashion-forward designs. We know the classic romantic reds and candyfloss pinks are key colours for this time of year. This year we have updated the designs using these new colours on our longline Basques, which have become more popular over the last few years due to Bridgerton.
When looking at the catwalks we also saw pops of violet, lilac and neon colours coming through, so we knew we had to add these colourways into the collection. Insider tip - neon is going to be hot for Summer 2023!
We have had a strong positive reaction to our new Valentine’s collection, with the Lotti bra currently selling every 12 minutes. We believe you don’t need to buy lingerie just because you are in a relationship, but you buy it for yourself. This is why with our four key sets we decided to give them personas:
Alette (Longline Basque) - She loves love!
Rubie (Longline Basque) - She is out celebrating with her girls, hello Galentine's!
Lexey - She all loved up with her new partner.
Lotti - She doesn’t do Valentine's.
Is there a formula for creating best-selling products? For example, are there certain silhouettes and styles you can count on to perform well?
From a creative point of view, unpadded styles work great. We have a lot more flexibility with our designs on embroidery details we would like to implement due to the fabric choice being sheerer.
From a silhouette point of view plunge-style bras are usually our top performers, this is due to their versatility, as they can be worn with lots of different style clothing. They also create a natural boost to your cleavage and we provide designs that are both padded and non-padded.
We know the customer loves certain style bras, but she is also not afraid to try something new. When it comes to our new season collections, she doesn’t like to see repeats, so we are having to think of new ways we can reinvent the winning formula, which is what makes the job more exciting.
How do you plan to develop the brand moving forward?
Over the last few years, we have really looked into who our customer is and ensured we are creating collections that fit her needs, style and lifestyle. I think this is actually our winning formula, and we will continue to delve deeper into understanding our customer so we are always producing products that she will love.
We are also hoping to grow the design team. Now we have started to bring designing in house for swimwear & nightwear and this will continue across all of our departments. We are also always looking at how we can make our product and the brand overall more sustainable.