A conversation with Tine Prophete

UNDERWEAR is an institution on Rue Dansaert (BXL) for over 30 years. Each season, the UNDERWEAR girls Geertje, Tine and Fien, offer a handpicked selection of lingerie, home and beachwear. A little out of the ordinary, sometimes even a little out of your comfort zone. And yes, they do have a men section too. They’re beyond passionate about their profession, so when Corona hit our territories they were among the first to close the physical shop and take their business literally elsewhere – namely the internet. We spoke with Tine, who found the time to answer our questions in between taking care of her kid, answering FaceTime calls with clients and modeling the store’s collection.   

Hi Tine! First of all, how are you doing?

Actually really good! We’re always very positive to be honest.

Even before an official “lockdown” you already decided to close the shop. Did you see it from a far – the lockdown etc – or did the measures surprise you?

We took this decision ourselves because it felt like the right thing to do. We’re selling lingerie and that means that we’re quite literally on people’s skin. We didn’t see any other solution that could both guarantee our services as well as everyone’s safety. And no matter how much we love working in our shop, we love our customers more. Keeping the shop open felt wrong.

Are you adapting your way of working to the crises? Are you approaching things differently?

Completely different! We turned our approach upside down. We’re now selling via FaceTime, Whatsapp and email. Everyday we show a handpicked selection from our collections on Instagram to inspire our customers. This way, we showcase the versatility of our collection and trigger a potential purchase.

Some entrepreneurs are complaining about the current situation, others, like yourself, face this situation head-on. Where does this “can-do”-attitude come from and do you think it is what you need to survive?

We’re just hardline-positivists. And this came in handy in this specific situation. When we decide to close our doors, we didn’t really have an idea on what would be our next move, but we knew we wanted to do something. We love our job too much to do nothing. So our passion and our positivity got us where we are now. Consulting over the phone, being our own models, exploring new ways of working. We get a lot of positive reactions from our clients and this stimulates us even more to go that extra mile.

How are your customers reacting?

Well, for now they’re still enthusiastic to see us in our underwear. 😉 And they still happily buy our products. So far, so good!

Are there things that you’re trying out that wouldn’t be discussed otherwise? For example, the home deliveries?

The whole e-commerce, internet sales. Lingerie is above all an intimate experience. Sizes, measurements, every detail is important. So not being able to have an “up close and personal” fitting, asks for a serious change of our approach. We now ask our clients to take pictures of themselves, to measure themselves so that we can keep on delivering a good service to our customers. And we pull it off quite successfully. But we also realise that there a lot more effort goes into an on-line sell, more than anticipated.

A little further in the funnel: Do you think consumer-behaviour will change drastically? Is there still room for designer underwear in the “work-from-home/everyday-is-a-bra-less-day”?

Of course there is still room for designer underwear! Everybody needs underwear anyway. Designer-lingerie brings that touch of luxury, that little pleasure to spoil yourself, without feeling guilty. Because in the end, you still need underwear. I have no idea whether consumer behavior will change drastically, but I hope that people will buy more consciously. Buy less, better and more local. I have no idea what the future holds… I’m as curious as you are, I guess.

Are there any tips you can give? Some comforting words?

Try to look at the good stuff that you did instead of focusing on what went wrong. You’ll see, it changes everything

And finally, do you have any tips for our readers on how to pass their time?

Scroll through (and follow) our Instagram. Keep on moving and enjoy good food!

>> Stay in the loop. Check out Underwear’s Instagram here!