With a name that conjures images of the girl next door, Marie Jo is the sassy and stylish brand of the Belgian lingerie group, Van de Velde, one of the world’s most respected lingerie manufacturers. The group also has PrimaDonna and Andres Sarda in its portfolio. Both labels belong to the Belgian lingerie group, Van de Velde. It began life in a small atelier founded in 1919 by Achiel and Margaretha Van de Velde where they produced corsets—mainly private label products. By 1981, they figured the time was right to develop their own label, so they launched Marie Jo. Lieve Vermeire, Marie Jo’s Brand Design Manager, takes up the story:
Marie Jo was the first brand to start selling lingerie bra-and-panty sets. They liberated women with sexy, romantic, comfortable and high-quality lingerie. In 1990, the Van de Velde group took over German lingerie brand PrimaDonna. This brand is the expert in lingerie for women with a larger cup size, offering the best of both worlds—a perfect fit and the most beautiful design, all the way up to a J cup.
Our headquarters is still based in the little Belgian town of Schellebelle. All our core activities are located here. It’s only the actual assembly of the lingerie, the stitching, that happens abroad—for two reasons: cost, plus we can’t find experienced people anymore, as stitching is no longer popular among young people in Europe. We produce mainly in our own atelier in Tunisia and in China, where we’ve had a strong partnership with TopForm for over thirty years, and we work mainly with lace from France, and beautiful embroidery from Switzerland, Spain and Italy.
Marie Jo was one of the first European brands to introduce the seamless foam cup. We developed the technology in the late 90s to create forms and shapes that perfectly answer the requirements of all body shapes.
Our constant challenge is to achieve the same fit with whatever new visual concept we design. It’s all in the detail of selecting the right fabrics (elasticity and technical specifications), respecting the sewing process (strict tolerances), and deep diving into pattern development. This is why the development is done in-house at Schellebelle by a Marie Jo team of twenty.
We started using Swarovski crystals in early 2000. Italian embroiderers suggested that we try designs with Swarovski crystals already incorporated. Every new Swarovski variant needs a thorough feasibility study to make sure it applies well to lingerie fabrics. Fortunately our technicians are highly experienced, plus the Swarovski helpdesk offers very good support when needed. Crystals give the finished product a higher value perception.
There’s a trend towards more comfortable bras. Lingerie without underwire is one answer, but so is using ultra-soft fabrics, thinner foam cups, and seamless finishes.
The Avero bra, with its distinctive flowers on its straps, is our most popular bra. One is sold somewhere in the world every minute, and it recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. It’s all about the flirty and feminine flowers and the graphic checked fabric. A new color is introduced every season, as well as deluxe versions embellished with crystals, for extra special glamour.