Meet Liviara, The St. Louis-Based Brand Looking To Change The Landscape Of Luxury Lingerie
Liviara aims to change the way you shop for luxury intimates. The new, high-end line of lingerie is owned and founded by native Midwesterner Kara Gatto, whose back-to-basics approach is already setting the brand up as one to watch.
The line focuses on female empowerment and recognizes the multiple sides, needs and desires of the modern woman. Liviara is the first lingerie line of its kind to be manufactured in the US, and Gatto says the choice to be based in the St. Louis area was a no-brainer, thanks to friendly faces and low costs. We spoke with Gatto to learn more about the launch of Livaria, what her future plans are and what it’s like to create and operate in the Midwest.
Tell us about the concept behind Liviara and what inspired you to start your own line of lingerie?
I think that the number one reason that inspired me to launch a line of lingerie is the fact that there’s not a high-end luxury line of lingerie that’s manufactured here in the US. Primarily Agent Provocateur is manufactured in the UK and there’s a couple that are manufactured in Italy, so I felt a kind of white space where we could manufacture here. Being able to manufacture in the States is key because we are at a price point where we can afford to do that; we’re not competing at the level that would require us to manufacture very, very cheaply. That’s why a lot of people end up manufacturing in China or other places offshore.
How were you able to take the steps you needed to create a manufacturing plant here, find workers, resources, etc?
It was a little challenging. We started off identifying a space where we wanted to be. We looked at manufacturing in Downtown St. Louis, we looked at manufacturing in different areas of St. Louis, and we decided that St. Charles was really the best fit for us now at this point in time.
We rented a building in St. Charles that was able to fit our needs for now, but also offer growth for the future. Right now, we have about 13-15,000 square-feet that we’ll be manufacturing in. It houses our office, a fitting room, conference room spaces, and enough room for about 50 seamstresses. Once we grow out of this space, it will easily be converted into additional offices and we will buy a larger space for the manufacturing side of the house.
What are some of the benefits of being a Midwestern-based brand?
Two things. One, the cost of doing business is a lot lower, from the real estate perspective. Number two is that, in the Midwest, people are very open to helping. In every aspect. For instance, I had questions on something as simple as how to pick, pack and ship and store, and Soft Surroundings let us go out and see how their location of how they pick and how they store things. In Midwest, they don’t keep things as close to the chest as they do in some of the bigger cities. Competition can be a little harder in those areas, so maybe that’s why they keep things very buttoned up. In St. Louis, so far it’s felt to us that everyone has been very welcoming and very helpful.
When will Liviara launch and how will customers be able to shop it?
We launch in September. We are going to go to New York for fashion shows during Fashion Week in September, and then we launch. We’ll be sold primarily online, through our e-commerce website, which will also be live starting in September. We’ll be online-only for the first six months, probably from September into the spring.
We’re looking at identifying a partner to go into one of the big box stores. Obviously we’d love to go into a Nordstrom or a Saks, to sell on a limited basis. Also, we’re planning on opening our own stores, very similar to the style of Agent Provocateur stores, only smaller, focusing on the high-traffic areas. So probably New York, San Francisco, LA, Chicago; we’ve identified about six locations that will open the first year. Within the first year we hope to also open a store in St. Louis.
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