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PARIS — While attendance figures at the recent Salon International de la Lingerie and Interfilière trade shows here saw a significant drop, falling 12.4 percent to 26,392, buyers were generally upbeat, with many targeting increasingly high-end brands.
“We’re looking to step up our business to the next level, so we’re looking for some higher-end brands to really capture that customer,” said Jenna Rease, buyer for U.S. online intimates retailer Freshpair.com
“We started bringing in some higher-end brands like Simone Pérèle about a year-and-a-half ago, which have done really well for us, so we want to continue with that,” she continued, citing brands like Aubade and Lise Charmel as examples of lines she would like to add.
Tia Lyn, founder of the lingerie brand of the same name and owner of the Contours Lingerie boutique in Madison, Wisc., summed up market sentiment this way: “With the economy being so difficult, those that have money don’t have many places they want to show it,” she said. “Intimate apparel is private, so people are indulging that way.”
Other brands confirmed the trend.
“Our prices are quite reasonable, and people have been saying we should increase them,” said Stephanie Chan, brand manager for Scandale, relaunched at SIL a year ago. “We thought, why not bring out something a bit more luxury.”
The result at Scandale is the lace-edged, archive-inspired Encore Exclusive line, which is priced 40 percent higher. “It’s been very well received…It will help us to get into different doors…For some retailers we are not premium enough,” said Chan.
Buyers generally lauded the dynamism of the show’s offers, citing color and styling as standout factors.
“The fashion show was extraordinary,” commented Jeanie Petersen, co-owner of the Sol boutique in Denver. “Last year it was dreary. We may have to readdress some of our budgets so we can open up some money for new brands.”
Erna Dreyfuss, collections manager for children’s apparel and lingerie at Printemps, observed, “Brands are countering the crisis with bright colors and mixes of fabrics that make each piece all the more exceptional.” She cited bodysuits, shapewear and bright colors like green and purple as strong trends for fall.
Other trends included the increasing crossover between lingerie and daywear with newcomer Monette’s silk bodysuits and silhouettes from Aubade being prime examples.
The sexy theme was also visible, with more brands targeting the ongoing burlesque trend. “Naughty lingerie is much more acceptable,” said one buyer.
But naughty lingerie was not the only category getting attention. Omora, another SIL first timer, was the merchandise licensee for the hit erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” offering sex toys and accessories.
“It really begs the question for lingerie retailers, ‘Can I sell pleasure products?’” commented Dan Gasper, commercial director of licensee Omora. “This [Fifty Shades of Grey] is the first mainstream brand they’ve ever had that they can put in a window.” He added that since its launch on Nov. 1, the racy brand has attracted 1,500 retailers and has sold half a million items.
Meanwhile, Olivier Piquet, managing director of Lise Charmel, acknowledged that 2012 had not been an easy year for the company. Overall business was flat at approximately 80 million euros, or $106 million at current exchange.
“The group is fighting back by investing in products, creativity and innovation with items that really stand out,” he said. But while business has been challenging, Lise Charmel won the SIL designer of the year.
Over at the Interfilière textile and lace area, a high-end feel was also apparent with a focus on lace innovation and a new, invitation-only area called The Exception, where suppliers can show their most innovative developments without fear of being copied. A larger sourcing area catered to the increasing demand for full-service manufacturers, and Italian group Iluna took home the Interfilière designer of the year award.
In other developments, it was SIL’s 50th anniversary edition, and organizer Eurovet pulled out all the stops to celebrate, including adding Agora, a new area where retailers could meet and exchange ideas.
But the snowy conditions in Paris and other parts of Europe kept a number of buyers from attending the fair, including French visitors, whose attendance fell 16 percent.