PARIS — The swim and beach categories proved fizzier than lingerie, and a “body positive” message prevailed at the recent Unique by Mode City and Interfilière intimate apparel trade shows here. Core brands continued to diversify their lingerie offer for spring 2019 to cater to changing consumer tastes and grow their swimwear proposition in the face of a lackluster lingerie market. The event, at the Portes de Versailles July 7-9, included a runway show in which a selection of influencers with diverse body shapes, rather than models, walked the catwalk.
“There is a sense of a new energy in lingerie with young brands jostling the sector’s institutional players,” observed Le Bon Marché lingerie and children’s department director Laurence Dekowski. “The swim- and beachwear offer is testament to the dynamism of this growing segment.”
She continued, “The season was excellent for fashion and swim, and the good weather towards the end of the season has been very favorable for us. Spring 2019 is looking very positive.”
Despite the sense of energy, visitor numbers to Unique by Mode City and Interfilière declined 9 percent year-on-year, according to show organizer Eurovet, with a stable number of international attendees and a “pronounced” decline in domestic traffic.
Lise Charmel’s managing director Olivier Piquet echoed the sentiment around swimwear, which continues to grow for the company, as it allows retailers to drive additional business. “A strong multibrand store now does 80 percent of its sales with lingerie and 20 percent with swim. For the best stores today that ratio can be 60/40,” he said. “Swimwear can potentially bring 30 percent of additional business.”
Overall, the company’s business is also performing well, said Piquet, driven especially by growth in the U.S. “The first half went very well for us in corsetry. The fashion direction we have taken with our collections has gone down very well with customers, who are looking for differentiation.”
Simone Pérèle brand and product director Stéphanie Pérèle said that while overall, business remains difficult, there are early signs of a turnaround in Germany and North America. Its spring 2019 collection focused on a variety of skin tones, with wireless designs continuing to gain traction, she said.
Aubade continues to move toward a more consumer-focused discourse, expanding its everyday collections with a view to growing in international markets. “We are getting a lot of international accounts at the moment, which is the goal,” said deputy managing director Martina Brown. “We’re modernizing the product in order to internationalize.” The company also revealed a collaboration with rugby team Stade Français for its men’s offer.
Groupe Chantelle was also showing a broader swimwear offer, presenting the category to wholesale for the first time with its Passionata brand.
In terms of overall trends in swimwear, yellow, khaki, tomato red and vivid blue were the strong colors of the season, and Lurex and glitter details also permeated many collections. Reversible swimwear, as seen at Chantelle and Vanity Fair; crochet designs, as at Wacoal-owned Freya and in details at Lise Charmel-owned Antigel; gingham and sporty details were also visible in several collections.
In lingerie, nudes and pastel shades like pink and mint green were prevalent, and touches of on-trend yellow made their way into certain collections, as in the embroideries on a pretty blue ensemble from Lou.
Other highlights included French silk specialist Marjolaine, which debuted a daywear line combining linen knits with its signature lace details; RVCA, a U.S.-based swimwear brand showing within the new Millennial-focused area; and Les Ultraviolettes, whose products are made with recycled polyamide and offer UV protection.
Exposed, which offers a curated selection of edgier brands for retailers looking to differentiate, continued to channel demand. “Given our positioning, we are very attentive to the Exposed area,” said Le Bon Marché’s Dekowski.
Highlights there included Chinese brand Voiment, with its pretty silk designs; Sarah and Sorrentino, a U.K.-based label offering strong prints on swimwear and creative ath-leisure designs; Canary Islands, Spain-based Savia de Oro, which offers handmade silk designs dyed with plant ingredients; and U.K.-based Evarae, with its sexy but understated laser-cut swimwear. Among bigger brands, Maison Lejaby and Andres Saarda also exhibited within the section.
Matthieu Pinet, curator of Exposed and founder of online shopping guide The Shape of the Season, has signed an agreement to implement the concept within the Première Classe trade show during Paris Fashion Week in September, with 30 brands participating including major lingerie players like Chantal Thomass and Chantelle.
At a press conference, show organizer Eurovet signed an agreement with Chinese online platform Tmall that will see it help its partner brands to grow their business in the high-potential Chinese market.
“The brands that we present will benefit from accelerated services to help them develop their stores on the platform, and Tmall will offer them information to help them develop the Chinese online market,” said Eurovet chief executive officer Marie-Laure Bellon-Homps.
Eurovet also outlined the details for its new consumer event to debut next year. Unique Summer Camp will combine events and education with a retail offer from key brands, to be held alongside the trade show and fabric event Interfilière July 7-9.
“The trade needs to be in direct contact with its consumers today,” explained Bellon-Homps. “It’s the consumer that will carry the sector forward, and consumers do not know enough about lingerie and beachwear brands.” The event is gunning for 25,000 visitors, and involves a partnership with fashion magazine Stylist.
At Interfilière, sustainability was the key theme. Eastman was highlighting its recent attribution of FSC and PEFC certifications for its Naia cellulosic fiber, while Sofileta had teamed with startup Seaqual to offer fabrics made from recycled ocean plastic. “Sofileta is recognized for its swimwear fabrics, so there is an obvious link with the marine world that makes sense,” said business unit manager Virginie Wittmer, who remarked a significant uptick in visitors looking for sustainable fabric solutions. Noyon Lace, meanwhile, debuted a Leavers lace made from up to 50 percent recycled content.