Lucy Litwack, owner and CEO of luxury lingerie brand and store Coco de Mer, talks to Drapers about how she’s using premium lingerie collections and collaborations to remove the taboo of female empowerment and sexuality by using variations on both classic and contemporary silhouettes.
More from: Pushing the limits of lingerie
British lingerie label Coco de Mer was founded in London by Samantha Roddick, daughter of Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. Now owned by Lucy Litwack, today the brand is known for collecting and curating luxury lingerie and erotica to inspire customers to explore their sexuality, both through its own brand and its multi-brand store.
The Coco de Mer brand is stocked in 32 locations globally, with 12 UK and 20 international stockists, among them Selfridges, Harrods and Net-a-Porter, and has a boutique in Covent Garden, which also sells underwear brands Olivia von Halle, Bordelle and Crave. Wholesale prices range from £28.13 for a lace and silk eye mask to £223 for a lace and silk robe from the mainline collection.
Owner and CEO Litwack bought the business from British erotica retailer Lovehoney in 2017, having already spent three years as the business’s managing director. Before joining Coco de Mer, she had gathered more than 18 years’ experience in the lingerie sector, working for brands such as La Perla, Bendon and Victoria’s Secret. She speaks to Drapers about why she loves lingerie and believes women are more empowered in a “post-Fifty Shades of Grey” world.
What first drew you to the lingerie market?
I believe in the empowerment of women. The lingerie industry has evolved from a functional service to a fun, fashionable expression of sensuality for women. Owning and growing Coco de Mer allows me to influence and support dreams, sensuality and satisfaction.
What are the biggest changes to the lingerie industry since you first started?
The lingerie industry is much more fashion-focused. Fifty Shades of Grey allowed lots of new small brands to launch, and as a result of the book there has definitely been a greater interest in the more erotic side of the market.
How would you describe the ethos of the brand?
Luxurious, enticing and empowering, Coco de Mer is where you explore the exhilarating limits of your erotic imagination. Female empowerment and pleasure are at the core of our brand.
What are some of your biggest day-to-day challenges?
Small businesses are an ongoing challenge. Retail is challenging, and quite rightly, customers demand incredible service and want to feel special and be constantly surprised. More and more, luxury is becoming about experiences and time, in addition to products. We offer salons in relevant areas with specialist instructors such as a striptease masterclass with Polly Rae and “Pleasing the Petals: The Art of Female Pleasure”, a salon with sex expert Miss England. Any of our salons can be held privately for individuals, couples, parties of friends or can be bespoke to meet any customer’s desire.
What’s the best part of your job?
I am so passionate about the brand and I love it all – from working on the shop floor and meeting our customers face to face to discovering new brands to add to our edit and developing our own lingerie collections each season.
How would you describe your own style?
I don’t exactly believe in a capsule wardrobe, but I believe in simplicity and focusing on the things that matter. That being said, I do own and sometimes find beautiful pieces that I just can’t resist. A beautiful dress can be a work of art.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Opportunities rarely come with a set of instructions. Take risks from time to time or you’ll never achieve anything.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Risk more and risk earlier. My younger self had energy and time that I would happily have now. Your power to achieve, even at a very young age, is limitless.
Favourite clothing brand
Dolce & Gabbana
Favourite place to shop
Manolo Blahnik in New York and Net-a-Porter
Last fashion purchase
A Roland Mouret dress
St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in the south of France
Last book you read
Stretchonomics by Nick Pye and The Power by Naomi Alderman
Last film you watched
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
My very first job was working in my parents’ jewellery store at age 12
What would we find you doing at the weekend
Walking, lunching with friends, family and my Maltese Charlie, reading and watching films