As we wave goodbye to 2016, Lingerie Insight reflects on the most important trends and stories of the last 12 months and looks at how these will shape the year ahead.
Public votes can lead to unexpected results
Regardless of how you voted in the EU Referendum, the majority of the industry, and indeed the whole country, believed that the United Kingdom would inevitably opt to stay in the European Union. However, on June 24th, the nation woke up to the unexpected news that Great Britain had actually voted to exit the EU. It turns out though that this wouldn’t be the most shocking news of the year, as Donald Trump then went on to claim presidential victory in November. Due to these two pieces of news alone, the value of the pound weakened to its lowest rate since 1985. So where does this leave the industry for 2017? The answer is, nobody knows, but the advice experts are giving is to put your best foot forward and remain positive in the face of uncertainty.
The power of the brand keeps growing
The word ‘brand’ is no longer limited to manufacturers within the industry. Rather, its meaning has now been extended to encompass a type of retailer too. Yes, 2016 saw the rise of branded lingerie boutiques carve their own identity and start to focus on their personal reputations, rather than rely on the names on the pieces they stock. This shift was inevitable as, at the end of the day, the name above a retailer’s door is the most powerful brand they will carry. It’s what makes each store unique and helps businesses stand out from the crowd.
Trade shows need some TLC
A trend among local and international trade shows last year was a noticeable decrease in footfall. While some managed to buck this trend, the majority reported fewer attendees and negative feedback from exhibitors. Following the August edition of Moda Lingerie and Swimwear, industry professionals urged buyers to make a greater effort to attend the trade show as exhibitors claimed that visitor numbers tumbled. Over in France, Mode City and Interfiliere saw visitor numbers dwindle 21% year-on-year to 11,000. But it’s not just visitors who are at fault for their poor attendance. Both trade show organisers and exhibitors need to work on attracting influential buyers in order to make the most of the unique opportunities exhibitions provide.
Bloggers are influencing millennials more than ever before
Most of us remember the days when only journalists held the key to a brand’s earned publicity and campaigns centred around A list celebrities and models. Today, that landscape has rapidly changed as millennials now look to ‘influencers’ in the forms of bloggers and vloggers, to influence their style. Generation Y feel bloggers are more relatable and therefore trust their opinion over pop stars and actresses. Bloggers can now control a brand reputation and make a single piece of lingerie or swimwear the next big thing with just a single tweet. They can also drive traffic to a retailer’s website and shape the way young shoppers are spending in today’s market.
Consumers are focused on the ‘theatre’ of shopping
As millennials continue to be driven by the digital world, it’s become increasingly important for retail stores to offer an experience that cannot be replicated online. Examples of lingerie retailers creating unique shopping experiences are Edinburgh’s Odyssey Boutique, which offers beauty treatments alongside designer lingerie and swimwear; Bustles Boutique in Southend-on-Sea, which offers private appointments; and Rigby & Peller, which mirrors a luxury bridal boutique in its level of service, with its plush fitting rooms, satin robes and professional styling advice over Prosecco. Millennials are more likely to tell their friends about what happened in a store, as opposed to what they bought. Furthermore, if you hook them in with the ‘theatre’ of shopping, they are more likely to return.
Shoppers are feeling confident
2016 was a year of enormous political upheaval and social change, but this had little impact on consumer spending. Retail sales may have slumped 0.3% in August, but that was put down to warm weather and the Olympics distracting consumers’ attentions away from the shops. Even the likes of John Lewis, which saw a 14.7% fall in profits in the six months to July, said the UK’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union has had “little quantifiable impact on sales so far”. During October, average weekly footfall in the non-food sector was up 4.2% on September, double the same month-on-month average uplift since 2010. In terms of lingerie sales specifically, Lingerie Insight reported that Debenhams, Coco de Mer, Odyssey Boutique, Boohoo.com, Very and Lovehoney – to name a few retailers – all reported growth.
E-tailers are witnessing a shift away from desktop ecommerce
Retailers have noticed a trend towards mobile shopping in the past few years, but they saw a particularly dramatic shift away from desktop and tablet ecommerce in 2016, and they can’t see it swinging back the other way. In March, retail sales via smartphones soared by a massive 101%, according to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index. This trend is thought to have been triggered by the development of larger screen sizes, enhancing the shopping experience on mobile phones. Savvy lingerie retailers are taking full advantage of this trend by launching user-friendly apps. Agent Provocateur even introduced a Whatsapp shopping service in December, with the aim to uncover couples’ Christmas wish lists and suggest items from the festive Agent Provocateur collection to suit their personalities.
80s and 90s make a comeback
They say fashion always comes around in full circles, so it came as no surprise that 80s and 90s trends took the spotlight once again last year. During the AW16 trade shows in January and February, bloggers and trade journalists noticed a whole host of brands, from Bluebella to Lepel, launching 80s-style bodysuits that are designed to be seen. One year on, bodysuits represent a major sector in the market and are filtering through into outwear. There was also a trend towards brands designing bras and bodies with detachable chokers, which have moved on from the Spice Girls era and been given a luxury upgrade. Brands from Coco de Mer to Maison Close used velvet and lace, as opposed to leather, to incorporate this accessory into fashion pieces for AW16.
Body positive ads get consumers talking
It’s no secret that the lingerie industry has long been the culprit of body shaming, with thin, white, photoshopped models having become the norm, while consumers that don’t fit into this demographic are marginalised. But in 2016, there was a wave of body positive campaigns that combated this narrow image of beauty and championed the use of more realistic and varied bodies in the media, which everyone can relate to. Selfridges kicked things off in April with the release of its EveryBody campaign. This featured non-photoshopped models of all shapes and ethnicities posing in various dance positions. The idea was to show off their strength, rather than their sexuality. In June, Bluebella launched its #BeStrongBeautiful campaign with three female Team GB athletes to celebrate female empowerment through sport and encourage girls to be proud of their athletic bodies. Then, in July, fuller bust brand Scantilly by Curvy Kate launched what was dubbed the most diverse lingerie campaign to date. #theNewSexy campaign introduced eight female role models, including a woman with alopecia, a transgender woman, an amputee and a recovering anorexic.
Athleisure shows no signs of slowing down in AW16 and beyond
Sportswear fashion had a field day this year, with a plethora of brands launching stylish gym gear that can be worn as everyday attire. Brands and retailers including Coco Bay, Gottex, Parah, Control Body, Triumph and Victoria’s Secret have all expanded into activewear this year. Meanwhile, lingerie trade shows became playgrounds for innovative and creative activewear and high-performance fabric designs. The July edition of Mode City opened a new section called Sportiv’, a concept store featuring cutting-edge brands, including Lorna Jane and Supreme Body. Moda Lingerie & Swimwear also opened up a platform dedicated to activewear. Targeting lingerie and womenswear buyers alike, the launch reflected the contemporary consumer demographic seeking apparel for active lifestyles and wellness. And this trend shows no signs of abating. According to business intelligence company Key Note, sales related to athleisure, including sports bras, leggings and yoga tops, will grow by about 24% over the next five years.