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Booming BDSM Market Incites Rapid Growth for U.K.-Based Rouge Garments

Alex Parker

There’s room in any market for a range of manufacturers from the “pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” to the luxury and bespoke artisans. Too often in any marketplace the race to the bottom in terms of price and therefore quality is the recourse of organizations trying to make a living. That’s not something you can say about Rouge Garments, far from it because in my conversations with Farah, sales manager from Rouge, quality is a word that keeps recurring; A core tenet at this manufacturer.

That passion for excellence seems to be paying dividends too, with December 2014 seeing the company moving to newer, bigger premises. As Farah said to me “I’m not quite sure what we’ll do with all the office space.” She laughs as she says it and I get the feeling it will not be long before they fill those extra square meters. They are moving from their old premises for very pragmatic reasons – to enable Rouge Garments to hold more stock and receive larger production runs into their U.K. warehouse.

We currently have the capability to make 5,000 products a month and by end of January 2015 we will be on 8,000 a month.

“So,” I ask, “Who manufactures for you?” Expecting to be told of multiple subcontractors and long supply chains.

“We, manufacture our own products.” Not an answer many E.U.-based adult product distributors are able to give. So are Rouge Garments from the garment manufacturing industry, having their own manufacturing facility? “No, Rouge Garments is a new company and started fresh from the help of a customer in the DVD side of the business, as well as seeing an article in the New York Times [about the] multi-billion dollar export trade in bondage wear.” And so from scratch Rouge has created a brand to fulfil the growing demand for affordable, quality BDSM and bondage garments and accessories. A brave move if it’s not an industry you’re acquainted with but the potential for even a fraction of any multi-billion dollar industry is irresistible for any driven entrepreneur.

“The DVD side of the business is in decline so [we were looking for new opportunities and] the garment business seemed much more interesting!” And garments don’t get much more interesting than BDSM gear, now do they.

The staff at Rouge relished the challenge of setting up in an unfamiliar business from scratch and has been very successful at it “[rather than buy an existing operation] it was much easier to start from scratch and now we coordinate everything from our distribution and admin facility. We are confident that our staff at the manufacturing site knows that high quality is essential and we tend to visit only when creating and introducing new lines. We get together with the production facility three or four times each year.”

It can’t always have been that simple? “Of course not! In the beginning we made mistakes, but we had an expert in this field helping us through it and with the help of our customers and their feedback we learned a lot very fast.” It seems that the move from a production process involving data and plastic disks to one with a wider range of suppliers, assembly and fabrication has not been an obstacle for this company.

I was intrigued that Rouge garments have a very flexible approach to what they produce, from conventional long runs to bespoke items.

“We currently have the capability to make 5,000 products a month and by end of January 2015 we will be on 8,000 a month.” Impressive for such a young company making what can be quite labor-intensive products. And that capacity could come in handy for Rouge because of course as they are very aware in February Fifty Shades of Grey hits the silver screen.

The industry names who buy from Rouge are impressive – Harmony, Millivers Prowler, Expectation, Nice ‘N’ Naughty, Honour, Coco De Mer – by the time you read this, that list will probably be longer. The accumulation of these names must derive from the options that Rouge Garments offer. Alongside their extra production capacity, customers will be able to take advantage of stock call-off from the new warehousing premises, keeping costs down for everyone and increasing flexibility for the retailer.

“Every customer can request our products be made with their logo and name on the product and label.” Apparently this applies to even small runs. How small? “The minimum production run is 10 items.”

This must keep Rouge busy, expediting the range of requirements in terms of style and labeling from all your clients? “We offer them a range of 120 products which is being expanded all the time.” Another challenge that doesn’t seem to phase the Rouge Garments team. Turn-around times can be very short too, “A rush job can take as little as 10 days.” Not many manufacturers can offer that sort of responsiveness.

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