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Monthly Archives: July 2008
Although I firmly believe in minimizing complaints in my personal and professional life, and much prefer to hang out with postive-minded friends full of hope for the future, today I am compelled to engage in one more “rant” if I may? It’s motivated by a recent comment a well-meaning client made about custom corsets, namely that they are “expensive luxuries.”
I truly do not feel these corsets are expensive, nor “luxuries” in the traditional sense of the word. Furthermore, I believe that such a notion repeated in public comment is detrimental to the health and growth of the corsetry industry/craft, and is misleading to the corset “newbie” who is shopping for a corset. Let me explain my perspective, which I hope is yours, or soon will be embraced by you, too.
It is inappropriate to think about fine, well-fitting, well-constructed custom corsetry as “expensive” or a “luxury.” That is because neither is accurate. I call them a “small indulgence for lasting value” in the slogan posted on my ROMANTASY frameset at the top of each webpage. And I intentionally go to some length on my website to address the issue or cost-versus-value which is designed to dissuade anyone from seeing these as “expensive.” http://www.romantasy.com/Styles/costvsquality.html
If you intend to wear your corset many times versus once–even ten or more years–and if you want it to move inches and pounds of flesh around yet not flip up, fall over, bunch up, wrinkle, or shred in one or two wearings, then paying $200-800 is clearly not expensive. However, if you don’t care if it will shred and you only intend to wear it once, perhaps to a party or for one stage performance, and if you don’t intend to lace down more than an inch or two, well then, yes, paying $600, or even $100 for that matter, for a corset fairly may be considered “expensive.”
Do you know a French bra costs about $150 and up in a US department store today? Sure the lace is soft, sure there are many pattern pieces in a well-constructed bra, sure these are nicely finished. But they are not custom, bespoke garments sustaining up to 90 or more pounds of waistline pressure for hours on end and days on end and years on end of wear.
We believe our corsets are well-priced, if not cheaply priced, for the quality we offer! Our ROMANTASY clients have a huge range of choices including price points starting at an amazing $165 for fully custom work by our new junior corsetiere Jill: http:/www.romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=R&Category_Code=ccfl
In addition, my first business goal is client education and proper choice first, before making a sale. I try to be absolutely accurate on the website and in my advice, rather than confuse visitors as some other websites and businesses do by sloppy use of ambiguous words and over-inflated promises regarding corsetry, as our sympathetic Italian corset-enthusiast friend Chris O. pointed out today concerning another web business, who confused “corset” with “bustier” in terminology (“corpetto” versus “corsetto”). Thus, I often lose sales rather than close them, and accordingly limit my income. But I live quite comfortably with my conscience and sleep well at night, following this carefully-chosen business ethic. If I agree to sell you a corset, you may rest assured that you will get more than adequate value for your financial investment.
In addition, I will help you maintain and refurbish your corset at about cost only, over the years, so you never need to throw out a slightly damaged or shop-worn corset! Will the French bra company do the same?
Further, most folks don’t realize that custom corsetmakers operating independently on the Internet rather than working for couture fashion houses such as Dior and LaCroix, earn from $10 to $20 per hour as a rule. Some earn only minimum wage, if that. This, despite some holding senior status and for their lucky client’s benefit, applying their long years of corset-making experience. At ROMANTASY I carefully vet and qualify the considerable talents and specialized sewing skills of our team members, to ensure only top quality in the corsets we deliver.
However, the American buyer today, and more and more the non-US buyer, is used to purchasing non- body-conforming clothing at Walmart and Target, and has little, if any, comprehension of quality and the value of it when it comes to custom work, or what is required to produce a body-shaping garment like a corset. Worse yet, the American buyer today is in too much of a hurry to learn what constitutes quality and is often “penny-wise but pound-foolish” as we say. I have been chagrined to receive two emails that “your website is too complicated and I don’t have time to read it”. But it only takes a moment or two for me to come back to my senses and realize that in today’s competitive marketplace, it is their right to purchase corsets where they feel comfortable even if with another business, and even on eBay regarding used corsetry. However, I’m convinced that in the end they will get what they deserve and invest in, and frankly, it most likely won’t be all that valuable or a such a “good buy” after all is said and done.
I would be remiss were I not to recognize and address the present recession. There are two stories I will tell that reflect my perspective. First, a few days ago when listening to dismal news about the US Stock Exchange, I heard a reporter mention a famous investor, now deceased, who had made his zillion with a policy of buying no stock priced over $1 per share. He bought even more stock, not less, during market downswings when prices were unbelievably low. Second, remember the advice you likely got when first purchasing a computer? “Buy as much RAM as you can afford, because the computer will last longer.” Well, to my mind both lessons should be applied now, when considering a corset purchase. Buy more, not less, of today’s recession-priced, top quality corsets you can find in the marketplace!
In sum, I urge any person interesting in purchasing a fine training corset, or a fine fashion corset for that matter, to re-consider any initial conclusion that custom corsets well fit and well constructed, in the right style for your individual purposes and goals, and purchased today versus tomorrow, are either “expensive”, or “luxury” items. They are neither, and may well be the best investment in your life, especially if you have a distinct reason motivating your present interest, as did our dear friend and client Brian. Please consider his encouraging and wise words sent earlier this month, regarding the small “necessity” he purchased from us over three years ago–and still holding tightly at that! http://www.romantasyweb.com/kudos.html
I just submitted this article to McPete Sez, an online newsletter for the wholesale lingerie trade. I thought I would share it with my blog visitors as a word to the wise if you are shopping for a suitable waist-training corset. As said at the end, “caveat emptor!”
Alien Invasion of “Wannabe” Corsets Follows Market Explosion of Inferior Costumes
by Ann Grogan, Proprietress, ROMANTASY Exquisite Corsetry (www.romantasy.com)
As a designer, producer, educator, and corset enthusiast dedicated for 18 years to bringing top quality tight-lacing custom corsetry to market, I write to join my lamentations to those of your reader who complained in your last McPete Sez issue about the inferior quality of costumes flooding the market. I congratulate her for including details. This will certainly alert store lingerie buyers (I used to be one when ROMANTASY had a retail lingerie boutique rather than online custom corset business with personal fittings in San Francisco) about specific defects to keep an eye on and discuss openly with sales reps when attending lingerie shows.
I only add my caution to buyers at such shows who may also see samples of what I call “wannabe” corsets of dubious quality, also now flooding the wholesale marketplace, especially during the past two years. I’m not speaking about corsets by Vollers or Axfords, both English manufacturers with long and superior reputations regarding quality of their wholesale corsets. For readymade corsets, theirs seem to have the best possible fit using good-quality English fabrics, and selling at the most reasonable prices.
Of course, I think ROMANTASY’s single wholesale corset-cincher, the Simple Pleasures, is an even better buy, so please inquire about whosesale purchase:
I’m complaining about almost illiterate email solicitations I receive about two or three times per month and growing, obviously emanating from certain non-English speaking countries, touting readymade wholesale corsets. I’m always surprised at the obvious lack of research in this shotgun approach: it’s entirely wasted effort on their part because aside from our Simple Pleasures cincher and one other by corsetiere Sue Nice, http://www.romantasyweb.com/cyboutique/corset/SueNice.shtml
our team of multiple and multiply-talented corsetieres: http://www.romantasyweb.com/cyboutique/corsetmakers.html
have always specialized in made-to-measure corsetry and corsetry ensembles.
I am however, more than surprised when I examine images nearly always appended to these new e-solicitations or marketing pieces, or visit the websites mentioned. In all cases garments are produced in Thailand, Pakistan, and less frequently, in China. I’m certain about my conclusions when I see the actual garments ordered by clueless lingerie buyers for sale in lingerie or specialty stores by equally clueless salespeople, or sold by sister vendors at exhibits I attend.
Not to leave out department stores in my rant. For example, several years ago I saw pictured a lovely corset by designer Stella McCartney, for sale at Nordstroms, perhaps my favorite department store. I called for details, but the salesperson to whom I spoke was completely flummoxed and had no idea if the boning was steel or rigiline, or what I meant when I used the term “busk”. On another occasion upon arrival at my Christmas relief job in the lingerie department of Neiman Marcus, I closely examined a new designer-label “corset” displayed proudly on a manikin, with bones poking out of split seams, edges rolling over, fabric bunching at the waistline, and elastic side gussets obliterating any possible figure-shaping ability of this–gulp– $1300 “corset”!
To be specific about these ubiquitous so-called “corsets” and so your readers know what else to keep an eye on, I am routinely shocked by: (1) inferior, loosely-woven and stretchy fabrics that will soon fray or shred, (2) poor quality lining, if any, (3) uneven stitch length and wobbly stitch lines creating uneven tension leading to stitches popping, (4) wide bone casings permitting bones to turn and dig in during wear (ouch!), and (5) inartistic, non-matching vertical lengths of pattern pieces in front or back, also leading to torquing.
Even worse, these “wannabes” nearly always create the ubiquitous “U-shape” at the waistline when worn. Thus, as the generally uneducated and unwitting wearer laces down, the bottom edge presses down on her anterior femoral nerve and sooner rather than later will lead to dangerous numbness in her hips and legs, not to mention the inevitable squishing out and lumping of flesh in the tummy and derriere below the garment’s bottom edge.
I might not be so livid about this alien invasion if I didn’t know about the conclusive, fact-based, and medically-affirmed advisability of the hourglass corset shape to place even pressure around the entire torso for comfort, safety, and hygiene (less skin wrinkling and trapping of moisture).
And I’m saddened because I know the consumer is the only one to lose in the end–errrr, or, “in the waistline”–since these inferior corsets technically can tolerate no or very little waistline reduction, yet will certainly raise unrealistic expectations of substantial figure shaping, good fit, comfort, and durability that the product will surely not deliver. Because sales are not accompanied by adequate or accurate verbal or written consumer information and full disclosure about the limits of the garment, how it may compare to a real custom corset, or how to properly wear, fit, and care for the garment, sales of “wannabe” corsets perpetuate non-factual, incorrect, and antiquated prejudices against real, custom-fit corsets.
More’s the pity because custom corsets, or even high quality, well patterned readymade corsets chosen wisely for fit, will not pinch, dig in, roll over, bunch up, torque, twist, rip, reveal bones, and shred with only a few wearings. Caveat emptor!
I was musing today about advice I’ve read and heard out there, that only a particular kind of body size or shape can waist train, or that you have to reduce weight first, then commence dieting or corset training. Can’t tell you how many emails I receive where the person is “going to lose weight first then order a corset.” Hogwash to the first, and a waste of time to the second, say I!
Perhaps the Waist-Training Coaching Program student of whom I am most proud seen right, started at 335 pounds and in three months lost 50 pounds and 5 inches off her waistline, and gained a healthy lifestyle to boot! We’ve provided custom corsetry for waistlines up to 60″ in girth at last count, so it’s not only possible, it’s advisable to proceed with all deliberate speed to try fun and fashionable corsetry first, before risky bariatric surgery or anti-depression pills because nothing seems to work.
What seems to be far more of an indication of success or setback or failure in a waist-training program, are other factors such as prioritizing waist training as one of only 1 to 3 main life priorities at the time you attempt it, being realistic in the goals you set for weight or waistline inch loss, being realistic about whether or not your lifestyle will permit you to go full speed ahead, or should you extend the training period and go slower?, genetics, what you know about your personal psychology and ability to motivate yourself to stick to your goals, and your past history with dieting.
Although I used to think so (and doctors claim that stress and hunger are the two main things that defeat our attempts to diet), even stress is not really a factor that will mitigate against your success during waist training. I’ve had a student in waist training receive a divorce sumons from her angry hubby (who we concluded didn’t much like the fact he was out of control of his wife because she waist trained against his will and to boot was looking and feeling sexier all the time!), and another one receive his pink slip–yet both completed their training and met their exact goals.
The reason? A simple answer is that the discipline of routine daily corset waist training according to a written-out plan of wearing levels and hours, nutrition, and exercise plus knowing what to expect of yourself and the corset, often provide focus and steadiness during rocky times. Otherwise stressful situations then seem more manageable because you are operating inside a somewhat rigid daily structure and day by day you are succeeding at toeing the waist-training line and seeing the results. Try it; I’m sure you will like being among the very unique group of us who adore corsets and know the magic of corset waist training!
Just a concluding note of caution when conducting corset research on the web: be very cautious about what you read. There is a lot of wannabe “corset experts” who–based on limited information or experience–feel they are qualified to opine about a variety of issues regarding waist training and corsetry. They may or may not be correct. Ask for the factual basis of that statement before you reach your own conclusions. You might be surprised to find that more times than not there is none, and that it is only uneducated opinion you are reading.