Saint Bustier has had such great emails and marketing that I had gotten all excited about it. Sadly, the preview yesterday didn’t live up to my expectations. Not only that, but for me it felt like a perfect illustration of the issues within the full bust clothing market. If you haven’t signed up for the preview, the store should be open to everyone at midnight GMT on the 22nd. Until then, you’ll have to be content with my opinion!
Saint Bustier isn’t a brand new clothing brand — basically, they find pieces that work for full busts and sell them through their store. It does look like they have some pieces which are exclusively theirs which are scattered throughout the site. On the surface, this is a great idea. After all, everyone has experienced the frustration of trying on everything in the store just to find out that nothing zips or buttons up over your chest. The idea of having someone do that for you is fabulous and a great business model.
However, I found myself being underwhelmed by the selection and totally overwhelmed by the prices. Here’s an example that illustrates all of my issues at once:
Take these two dresses:
One of these dresses is $66 and comes from a company that designs exclusive for full busted women, and one is $440 and can be found in any high end department store. They are both basic work dresses that would make great wardrobe staples. Which one is from Saint Bustier?
If you guessed the first one, you’re correct. It’s a Kay Unger dress that while cut generously, is still standard sizing and can be found lots of places. The Biu Biu dress is designed and cut for full busted women, while the Kay Unger dress just happens to have some extra room in the chest. As a full busted woman, I’d rather give my hard earned money to a brand that designs for me rather than a designer who just happens to have an item that fits me.
Part of me feels bad about writing this review, because Saint Bustier had such great early marketing and I really wanted to fall in love with their stuff. I also naturally want to love anyone who is making shopping easier for full busted women. I still think the idea is great, but until their range of clothing is expanded in terms of price and actual full bust design I don’t think I’ll be a customer.
Edited to add some more thoughts from other bloggers that I’ve heard since this post went up a few hours ago:
Sweets, the author the Sweet Nothings NYC blog (which I love and highly recommend) says this: “I’m curious about who their ideal customer is. The up-to-date website, the facebook campaign, the friendly tone all led me to expect younger and more affordable clothing. This seems almost like someone curated a collection from, say, Neiman Marcus or Saks, so that a busty shopper who would like to shop there doesn’t have to do as much legwork.”
“1. I had pretty low expectations based on their giant claims and the predecessor site of one of their founders,www.odyldesign.com, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
2. I agree with Sweets about the Saks-type target customer, and I think this is a welcome addition to the current landscape. Some of the styles struck me as fresh. I loved the Erna suede motorcycle jacket, the drape neck dress and the Claude dress . . . each has nice details and touches.
3. They have chosen pieces with features that I try to point out as good for full busts. For instance, the Erna jacket has (1) a zipper front; and (2) fabric panels. I’d have to try it on in person to see if it not only closes over the boobs but actually does so without smashing them flat, but these are two design features that are good for us. The Claude dress has power mesh around the bust and arms. Some of their necklines surprise me, but that should make Brittany of Thin & Curvy happy after her most recent blog post.
4. I get your point of buying from people who sew specifically for us, but here are some of the benefits that I see of their model: (a) no one wants to be pigeon-holed, and this curated approach says, “There is mainstream fashion out there for you, and we are bringing it to you.” The biggest drawback that I see in trying to market to full-busted women is the challenge of avoiding the full-bust ghetto. Although most of us in this group are happy to shop at specialty stores, the average woman on the street doesn’t want to be restricted to specialty stores, and to the especially uninformed about bra sizes, “full-bust stores” sounds too much like “plus-size”; (b) if this company is successful in showing that there is a demand for full-busted clothing from mainstream designers, then it can use its influence to encourage more designs and production. Already they have “private label” exclusives (although not that many), which means they have paid a designer to create something specifically for them, specifically for us. I would LOVE to see them develop similar relationships with other designers we admire. My dream would be “Reiss for St. Bustier”!”
Darlene also rightly pointed out that this idea started with Dbusted and has been tried before.
What do you think of the Saint Bustier offerings? Leave your opinions in the comments!