Helena Christensen has helped to drive 50% sales growth at luxury lingerie brand Coco de Mer.
The supermodel posed for lingerie campaigns during lockdown and has now gone behind the camera for a new collaboration.
Coco de Mer CEO and owner Lucy Litwack said high profile collaborations with celebrities such as Christensen and Pamela Anderson and institutions as diverse as the Victoria & Albert Museum, Playboy and even Sotheby’s auction house have powered Coco’s growth in recent years.
Coco de Mer is profitable and over the last three years online sales have risen by 50%, the wholesale division has grown fivefold and there has been a 45% increase in international stockists.
She said: “We have worked with Helena for three years and she was a customer of ours long before that.
“We did our first campaign with her in lockdown, called The Ultimate Female Gaze, where she acted as model, photographer and art director, shooting herself at home, because no one could travel at the time.
“We did a post-Covid campaign with her which was much more glamorous because suddenly everyone wanted to dress up after not being able to.
“Helena is a renowned photographer as well as supermodel and she has shot our new campaign with Charli Howard, our current ambassador. I loved the concept of passing the torch between Helena and Charli – it’s a real journey of female empowerment.”
Litwack said the luxury lingerie and erotica industry boomed during Covid lockdowns as consumers discovered how self love and sensual pleasure could aid mental well-being.
She said: “The pandemic empowered women in particular to prioritise their pleasure and to focus on self care. Now we are coming out of that period, yet pleasure is becoming a much more regular part of self-care, as you see with sexual wellness sitting within the beauty sector in shops and sites much more.”
Half of Coco de Mer’s sales come through its website and half through wholesalers such as Selfridges.
With lingerie sets at Coco de Mer costing more than £250, managing stock effectively is crucial in maintaining profitability.
Litwack has automated a lot of the stock control with new software and she said she is constantly analysing the business to make the buying side as efficient as possible.
Earlier this year, Coco de Mer’s switched to a digital first global strategy – moving its head office from Seven Dials in Covent Garden to a new space in Primrose Hill, North London, where wholesale operations, VIP appointments and bespoke fittings are hosted.
Litwack said that sustainability has really changed the lingerie industry in recent years.
Speaking to the Retales podcast, she said: “Sustainability has played a key role in shifting and improving the design process. We are using more organic materials and recycled fabrics and this year we were awarded the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury.”
Litwack – who created David Beckham’s first underwear range earlier in her career – has spent her entire career in lingerie.
She explained: “I just couldn’t ever leave. Lingerie is a way to redefine sexuality on our own terms as women. It’s literally the one item that you wear that no one else has to see.
“I loved this story from a surgeon who said to me: ‘Whenever I’ve got a really serious surgery to perform, I will always wear my best lingerie under my scrubs and it just gives me that secret power and confidence that I feel like I can do and achieve anything.’”
Litwack, who won silver for the International Women’s Award at the National Business Women’s Awards last week, led a management buy-out of Coco de Mer six years ago from previous owners Lovehoney and heads up an all-female team.
She said: “I was just so passionate about it and I felt like it had always punched above its weight but was yet to realise its full potential as a global luxury brand focused on female pleasure.”
She is critical of digital publishing giants such as Meta which will not allow Coco de Mer to celebrate female pleasure by advertising on either Facebook or Instagram.
She said: “Our current customers are our strongest ambassadors when it comes to attracting new customers.”