LYON, France — There appeared to be no boundaries to the largesse of the Lyon, Mode City show.
With a record turnout of more than 19,950 visitors, the three-day trade fair, which ended here Sept. 8, was laced with a number of nonstop events: elaborate runway shows for lingerie and swimwear under the Fun Attitude and Glamour banners that had a Las Vegas flavor; a bevy of informative merchandising seminars for retailers and designers, including Evolution by Concepts Paris, Bodywear by Carlin International, and a film called “Les Boutiques du Monde” by Champagner Katz, and several trend exhibits such as the Fun Vibrations area, which spotlighted the most directional ideas and concepts on mannequins for fall-winter 2004-05.
This was all topped off by an eclectic mélange of champagne, caviar and fois gras soirées designed to keep lingerie buyers amused and stimulated after a grueling 12 to 14 hours canvassing the immense 660,000-square-foot EuroExpo Center.
After-hours activities included a boat party hosted by Israeli fibers firm Nilit, a formal dinner by the French lace house Noyon at the four-star Michelin restaurant L‘Abbaye de Paul Bocuse, and two events staged by show parent Eurovet: a Fun fashion show of intimates on a bridge overlooking the Rhone River followed by a boat-ride cocktail party, and a gala dinner at Lyon’s ornate 17th-century city hall hosted by Mayor Gerard Collombe, and Jehan Quettier, director of the Lyon, Mode City fair.
The soirée at city hall was among the most memorable for a number of retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, where the dinner by La Pymaride was accompanied by entertainment from an Elvis impersonator and a troupe of musicians, clowns, and jesters dressed in period costumes who juggled silverware, crystal glasses and flaming bottles in the air.
Quettier said this year’s edition was particularly important because “we expected a decline with the sluggish economy and the war in Iraq. But the number of retailers attending the show was higher than ever before, and they were enthusiastic and ready to buy.”
In all, the number of lingerie brands displayed was up 6 percent, totaling 977. Collombe noted at the Sept. 7 gala that the lingerie show was “among the most important avenues of commerce for the city of Lyon,” the second-largest city in France with a population of 6.5 million.
Meanwhile, a renewed vigor permeated the show’s ambience, as numerous American retailers from major department and specialty stores were spotted in practically every nook and cranny of the gigantic fair. They included Neiman Marcus, Barney’s New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Victoria’s Secret, Marshall Field’s and Dillard’s Department Stores. Many European and Canadian retailers, such as La Sensa, Hunke Moeller, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Fenwick, Dunnes, Brown Thomas and Oasis, a young, contemporary apparel chain in England, were also scouring the exhibitor stands.
Anne Caetano, divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel and hosiery at Saks, said, “What we didn’t see was anything contemporary in sleepwear or foundations. Everything was all updated and grown-up looking. But we did see a lot of big ready-to-wear names that seem to be jumping into the lingerie arena, like Blumarine and Christian Lacroix. I loved Lacroix because it was so signature looking and had a balance of bustiers and bras, not like most ready-to-wear people who are are just doing daywear pieces.”
The Lyon edition is known as a directional venue for the intimate apparel trade, mainly because the newest ideas in lingerie and swimwear are unveiled and tested for next year’s spring-summer season, as well as new fabric and fiber innovations for 2004 at the Interfiliere segment. It has long been a working laboratory and launching pad for DuPont Textiles & Interiors, which has been renamed Invista Co., to introduce new programs such as the new Body Care by Lycra campaign of well-being fabrics that moisturize, massage and offer freshness properties to clothing [see story, page 25].
Top trends included:
Meanwhile, intimate apparel manufacturers increasingly use Lyon as a platform to launch new products and brands. A key example this year is a spin-off moderate brand from the Warner’s division at The Warnaco Group called Young Attitude. The line of fashion bras and coordinating panties has a contemporary look and is aimed at younger consumers who are full-busted. Bra sizes go up to a G cup.
“Young Attitude has been the hit of the show for us and we plan to introduce it in the U.S. next spring,” said Tom Wyatt, president of Warnaco’s Intimate Apparel Division. He added that the line, which was launched in England for fall selling, has been well received by consumers.
Jim Noble, senior vice president and general manager of the Jockey brand at Jockey International, said he was “impressed” with the show.
“There was a tremendous amount of seamless product, even in men’s [underwear],” said Noble. “There’s a lot going on in technology behind the scenes such as Tefron. There’s also a ton of laces and embroideries that are being done in many different ways than in the past.”
Josie Natori, chief executive officer of Natori Co., who was at the fair to buy fabrics, said, “There were far more Asian resources at the show, which was really interesting to see. We bought from a number of Asian resources, as well as some European companies.”
“This has been an extremely strong show for us,” said Sergio Oxman, president of Miami-based Cosabella, a daywear and sleepwear concern. “You know it’s a good show when you don’t see that many people walking because they’re in the booths writing orders. This has been the first show where all of our reps came in from all over Europe. It’s been terrific.”
Oxman said top-booking ideas included novelty tulle and plissé treatments, color blocking and a crinkle lace that has an Art Deco look in a range of ice cream pales.
In the Expression Dessous area dedicated to entrepreneurial firms, Don Yang, president of Viamode, said, “All of the major stores have come in and we opened six new accounts with stores from Italy, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. France may be a small country, but there’s a lot of lingerie business to be had here.”
Gabrielle Ross, designer and owner of London-based Beau Bra, said, “The Expression Dessous has become extremely important. It’s now more of a focal point and a destination site. I opened eight new accounts with stores from Japan, Russia and South Korea, as well as France.”
Regarding business conducted with Mideast accounts, which typically attend the Lyon fair, Steve Chernoff, ceo of Rago, a shapewear specialist that has exhibited in Lyon over five years, said, “This has been the best show for me yet. All of my Mideast accounts came in and they’re buying as usual.”
Richard Gimble, ceo of Va Bien, a maker of upscale shapers, agreed and said: “The show was very well attended and we saw more people than we’ve ever seen before, including accounts from the Mideast. Our new accounts vary from Finland, Denmark and Taiwan to Italy, the U.K and New Zealand.”
Gimble said his number-one booking group is La Belle Fatale, a sleek, updated group of control bustiers, all-in-one shapers and bottoms of nylon and Lycra.
But Marvin Backer, a consultant for Flora Nikrooz Lingerie, a unit of The Age Group, said he was “very displeased” with the Lyon show, citing “Mideast politics” as meddling in the coarse of business.
“I’ve been doing this show for over 12 years, and have a very strong following in the Mideast in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon,” said Backer. “But all of those accounts, excluding Kuwait, have refused to buy my products at this year’s show. One retailer even told me, ‘American product? No more.’ Another told me, ‘You have to get rid of Bush and Sharon.’ I also feel there’s an undercurrent of anti-Semitism and I’m very upset.”
2003 GLOBAL TURNOUT VS 2002
International: 10,403, up 6.30 percent.
France: 9,551, up 9.60 percent.
European Union: 5,862, up 6.7 percent.
Far East: 1,480, up 5.4 percent.
Western Europe: 1,407, up 9.5 percent.
North and South America: 917, up 6.3 percent.
North Africa: 249, up 22 percent.
Mideast: 361, down 7 percent.