As part of a wider industry review, we interviewed top lingerie buyers to discover their take on the biggest trends of 2016, the key milestones they faced over the last 12 months and their predictions for 2017.
Figleaves head of buying Jenni Burt was first up, and now it’s the turn of House of Fraser branded buyer for lingerie and hosiery Claudia Walker.
What were the biggest lingerie retail trends of 2016?
We saw the growth of our website and multi-channel shopping in general; the enhanced customer journey from stores to online continued to become more seamless with more and more customers shopping on the move.
What do these trends tell us about the future retail landscape in the UK?
As the web becomes an increasingly bigger percentage of the sales mix we need to ensure customers are receiving a premium and multi-channel experience service in stores. Our Perfect Fit events are a great example of us putting a real focus on lingerie and educating the customer about our brands and fitting service.
What role has the intimate apparel industry played in shifting the landscape?
For a long time, the view was that customers wouldn’t shop for lingerie online. However, with a wider size range, fitting videos and editorial features, the sales mix online has increased and we believe it will continue to do so.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the last 12 months?
Competitor discounting was one of the biggest challenges of the past 12 months.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We had to stay confident when competitors were discounting, by driving a full-price agenda of desirable product.
What were your proudest moments of 2016?
Our Perfect Fit events held in April and October were incredibly successful. Lingerie is such an important, but often neglected, part of an outfit and our customers have enjoyed engaging with the product details and also looking at it from a fashion perspective.
What are your plans for the New Year?
Next year we plan to invest in stores to create an intimate apparel destination and grow our athleisure business.
Who are the intimate apparel brands to watch in 2017?
The new Elle MacPherson Body brand and the already well-established Calvin Klein label would be my brands to watch for 2017.
What trends to you predict for AW17?
For AW17 I think we’ll continue to see more and more people become more adventurous with their lingerie and try more sexy styles. The release of the next instalment of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is likely to spur the consumer demand for more risqué styles.