The Pour Moi story so far...
Pour Moi started in a tiny office above a shop in Macclesfield, packed with materials, cardboard boxes, two staff members and one belief - that people shouldn’t have to overpay for good-fitting lingerie, no matter what their size.
“I started Pour Moi using the money I’d made from selling my autograph collection. It was hard parting with them as some of those names I’d got personally,” laughs founder Michael Thomson. “But at least I can say that George Michael funded Pour Moi.”
Now nearly 15 years later, Pour Moi has outgrown its premises, added swimwear and nightwear to its collections, bought major lingerie brands and moved to Brighton to a sunny office by the sea. But while it’s bigger and better than ever, the brand’s core philosophy has always remained the same.
“We believe that the same bra should look just as good in a G cup as it does as a 34B. It should be the same bra for everyone,” states Michael.
What does a man know about lingerie?
Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. “Because I don’t wear bras myself (well, not that often), I’ve always been able to think more clearly about what women want, rather than just creating something that I’d like to wear,” says Michael. “It’s helped me challenge preconceptions in lingerie and swimwear. Like, why should the bra have to change in design just because it’s gone up in cup sizes?”
But Michael was more than just a fashion outsider challenging the status quo. “I’m actually a trained accountant, but when I was at university I decided that it wasn’t really me, so I applied for a merchandising job at Marks & Spencer,” he explains. “They moved me into the lingerie department and I loved it. And that’s how it all began.”
A bit of moonlighting...
Michael worked at M&S for ten years before moving to LF Intimates in 2003 (a brand he would later buy in 2019), then joined Next eleven months later. “I was working at Next while setting up the Pour Moi brand on the side. Luckily my bosses were supportive. Although when we launched Pour Moi at a major lingerie exhibition in 2005, the buyer from Next turned up and I had to hide in my booth.”
While all that industry knowledge put Michael in good stead, it still wasn’t easy to go it alone. “It was just me, picking and packing. When you’re in a big company you don’t realise how little you know, from how to get something booked into a warehouse or how to package it into a box. Just little things like that.”
“When we started out it was just me and Julie, who’s now my head of design,” he says. “In fact most of the Pour Moi staff have been here for years, with everyone doing a little bit of everything - it means we all know the business inside and out. In the early days I did a lot of the designing as well. My factory, bless them, really looked after me in creating the designs from my not-very-good sketches.”
Growing from small beginnings
After being well-received at the Harrogate lingerie exhibition in 2005, Pour Moi sold its very first bra in December that year, at independent boutique Elle Lingerie in Rugby.
They then set up their independent retail store in Macclesfield, Cheshire. “I used to stock all the different lingerie brands as well as our own, so we could learn even more and see how our fit compared to theirs. We had drinks evenings and invited customers to look at the collections - some even came in to be fit models for us. Those days were mad, but it was such a great way of understanding what the Pour Moi customer really wants.”
Another shop in Chester was to follow, as well as concessions in Figleaves and Littlewoods.
Dipping a toe into the world of swimwear
In 2007 Pour Moi introduced swimwear to its range. “We wanted to give our customers something that other brands weren’t offering,” says Michael. “Bikinis in good-fitting cup sizes that actually looked like bikinis in the larger sizes, not bras.”
The line was a hit straight away and Pour Moi became the first full cup swimwear brand to be sold on ASOS in 2009.
Their swimsuits and bikinis are now highly coveted, having been worn by the likes of Monica Cruz and Samantha Cameron, who triggered a media frenzy when she wore an Azure bikini on holiday to Ibiza in May 2015.
“We were really thankful we had our website in place when we sold the bikini worn by Sam Cam. Figleaves didn’t have enough stock and neither did ASOS. They had sold out within a day so everyone came to us.”
In 2014 Pour Moi launched in the US with its partner Bare Necessities and became their number two swimwear brand within a year. Not bad going for a little company from Macclesfield!
Going up to a J cup
With swimwear doing so well, the brand’s next focus was making sure all its lingerie was available up to a J cup, something it remains extremely passionate about. “Going up to J cups requires a lot of energy and effort. You’ve got to get it right,” says Michael.
And customers appreciated their obsession over fit and design. “People call our Amour in a J cup a ‘boob job bra’, because it’s not padded, but it’s triple-lined so it’s really supportive. It’s little details like that that really set us apart.”
With customers clamouring for its J cup sizes, Pour Moi added sports bras to its collection in 2017, followed by beachwear in 2019.
Moving to Brighton
More than a decade on from selling its first bra, Pour Moi moved to Brighton while keeping its warehouse in Macclesfield. “Our name may be French, but Pour Moi is actually a very British success story,” says Michael.
“All our lingerie, swimwear, nightwear and hosiery is designed by our own creative team in our Brighton HQ and made to exacting standards of fit, comfort and quality in our factory. And because we take care of the whole process, from design to delivery, it means we can keep our prices super-affordable.”
Coming full circle
From running his shop to buying his Macclesfield warehouse, to employing more than 100 staff, is there nothing left for Pour Moi to do? “It was always my burning ambition to buy more intimates brands with a different target customer.” And luckily, he’s being able to do just that.
In January 2019, Pour Moi bought not only Charnos and Lepel, but LF Intimates, the company that Michael himself worked at when he was just starting out.
And what does the future hold for Pour Moi? “We don’t ever like to rest on our laurels,” laughs Michael. “Next for us are exciting new product categories and retail opportunities.”
But despite the ambitious plans, one thing certain to stay the same is Pour Moi’s core belief. As Michael puts it, “Our ethos is the same now as it’s always been. To create fabulous lingerie swimwear and nightwear for every body.”