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PARIS — Body positivity and sustainability were the catchphrases at the recent Salon International de la Lingerie and Interfilière trade shows here.

As well as pushing its brand partners to put forward a more sustainable offering and embrace diverse body types, show organizer Eurovet also enhanced its own efforts for the show. Not using carpets inside the venue allowed it to save five tons of petroleum, as well as freeze its prices for next year, and the furniture in the show’s rest areas was sourced from Emmaüs, France’s leading network of thrift stores.

While the shift was tangible, in tandem there was also a marked return of sexier styles from some of the major corsetry makers in a climate marked by the move towards comfort and ath-leisure of the past few of years.

Lingerie can be comfortable and inclusive as well as sexy, one doesn’t negate the other,” said Groupe CL chief creative officer Renaud Cambuzat. “The codes have changed, but there is still room for seduction.” For the Chantelle brand, the firm is launching an ad campaign featuring a transgender model, Inès Rau, for fall 2020.

“Our luxury lines are among our bestsellers,” said Aubade deputy managing director Martina Brown. The company showcased its collaboration with Chinese artist Hong Wai at the show, a high-end capsule in black and gold inspired by her sketches.

“The lingerie market is quite difficult, but we had a good year,” Brown said. “People buy us because they fall in love with our product, not because they need another bra. Sustainability and inclusivity are necessary, but they are not the key.”

Despite a “slight dip” in visitor numbers — exact figures were not released — show organizer Eurovet hailed a positive edition that had reassured exhibitors in what remains a difficult market, exacerbated by the current social climate in France and transport strikes that made getting to the Porte de Versailles venue more difficult. The two events ran from Jan. 18 to 20.

The lingerie market remains extremely challenging for most players, especially in France. French lingerie sales dipped 0.8 percent to 2.02 billion euros in the first 10 months of 2019, according to figures released by Eurovet.

“Between the ‘yellow vest’ protesters, the strikes and the decision by mayors in certain cities to restrict parking in central areas, the market is extremely difficult,” said Lise Charmel’s managing director Olivier Piquet.

Piquet said the company is working on helping its retailers build closer relationships with consumers in order to boost business, including knowledge sharing from around the world to drive retail innovation.

“Consumers are looking for an experience that provokes an emotional response when they come into stores today,” Piquet said. “When you have a high-end product, you need to offer something special. Lots of independent lingerie retailers are very good at the technical side — fitting for example — but less when it comes to the emotional experience.”

Simone Pérèle is attempting to modernize its image with more of a fashion focus, with a new artistic director in charge of both product design and communication. A campaign shot by fashion photographer Jan Welters will debut for fall. “The market is evolving in a major way, we need to constantly question ourselves,” said brand and product director Stéphanie Pérèle. “This should allow us to recruit a younger consumer as well as be more desirable overall.”

The brand’s fall collection featured graphic fil coupé embroideries set around eyelets and designs featuring hidden underwiring, providing support as well as having a more fashion-forward image.

Fabric development is also helping brands to offer more products that are both comfortable and aesthetic, in a broader range of sizes, according to market players.

“Textile suppliers have done a lot of work to offer more flexible fabrics so that we can offer both comfort and seduction,” said Wacoal Europe marketing and communications manager Sophie Knis. Among developments, Wacoal presented a collection featuring a lace motif inspired by the fire at Notre-Dame cathedral last year.

Empreinte, which specializes in molded corsetry, unveiled Allure, which it claims to be the first bra on the market to be made with molded French Leavers lace, available up to a G cup. Codeveloped with Sophie Hallette, the lace necessitated three years of research.

Among the trends at SIL, jewel tones of teal green and peacock blue, burgundy and eggplant were common across many of the collections for fall 2020, as were vintage floral patterns inspired by herbaria and toile de Jouy.

With the indie labels showing within the Exposed show-in-show, which highlights creative brands, as well as the new Millennials and ORGANIC spaces at SIL, body-positivity and sustainability were front and center.

“This edition of the Salon International de la Lingerie highlighted niche brands in a more understandable manner,” said Sybille Darricarrère Lunel, Galeries Lafayette’s purchasing director for women’s and lingerie. “The major players are still strongly present, but young designers had pride of place, which makes us think that future editions will allow more space for a targeted, on-trend offer.”

Highlighting Henriette H, Maison Lejaby and Undress Code among her favorite collections at the show, she continued, “Among the strong trends were wireless and seamless pieces. Comfort is increasingly combined with fashion. For more statement pieces, balconnet bras were standouts, and from a technical standpoint, fashion solutions such are menstrual panties are becoming more common.”

Highlights among the younger brands present included The Underargument, which focuses on empowering women with its designs featuring hidden mantra-like texts, manufactured in Madagascar by a factory engaged in education programs. The brand features models cast through Instagram, who are selected for their life stories, without photos or sizing information. France-based Madame Porte la Culotte presented cotton panties featuring positive affirmations hidden in their gussets.

Danish label Underprotection, which produces with all sustainable and recycled fabrics, showcased pretty floral loungewear pieces, while U.K.-based Studio Pia offered sustainable, high-end designs featuring rich bird embroideries.

Driven by the growth of digitally native brands in the segment, menstrual intimates were a strong emerging trend. France-based Mina Storm, which offers basics in organic cotton, bamboo and recycled fibers targeting consumers aged 10 upward, will be launching at Galeries Lafayette and Citadium next month. It presented a line of “period pants” with matching bralets. Japanese label K+1% showcased a collection of fashion-focused sets in brightly colored velvet with peek-a-boo details dedicated to women’s time of the month.

Patricia Platt, owner of A La Mode Intimates in Annapolis, Md., was shopping to add new brands to her offer. “I’ve been looking more at sustainable and I’m looking at the menstrual market,” she said, picking out Mina Storm as a highlight. “We had a tough fall/winter, so I’m going to have to do more marketing. The U.S. market is [reacting to] more comfortable styles, so brands do really well offering us [styles like] bralets.”

When it came to sustainability, there was a marked move toward recycled fibers from some of the major players. Wacoal presented its first lingerie collection made from Q-Nova recycled nylon under the Freya brand. Eberjey, winner of SIL’s Designer of the Year award, presented a Valentine’s Day lingerie range in black lace made from recycled plastic bottles, while Maison Lejaby presented the Pas de Deux line, also made with recycled fiber.

“We are seeing the change in mentalities and consumer habits when it comes to sustainability represented in the offer at the show, and this is a commitment we share,” said Galeries Lafayette’s Darricarrère Lunel.

Local production and improved demand flow management are also seen as key to helping the industry improve its sustainability credentials on a broader scale.

“We work with French lace and Italian embroideries, and we have our own factories, which means we have short production times,” Piquet said. “We are using AI to refine our sales predictions, and most of our production is based on orders that have already been placed, which avoids overproduction and over-reliance on the sales periods.”

Looking ahead, Eurovet announced a partnership with China Knitting Brands Innovation Design Week to launch Interfilière Shenzhen, to take place from April 9 to 11, replacing Interfilière Hong Kong with an event closer to China’s Eastern manufacturing hub.

Shifted forward from early July to tie in better with Paris Fashion Week events, Eurovet’s summer swimwear sessions will take place from June 27 to 29 for Unique by Mode City, June 27 to 28 in central Paris for new consumer-focused showcase Swim Culture, and June 28 to 30 for Interfilière.

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