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 Lovehoney senior merchandising manager Gemma Pestel.
What were the biggest lingerie retail trends of 2016?
We’ve noticed a trend towards mobile devices in the past few years, but it’s really starting to shift away from desktop eCommerce now, especially in terms of email. I can’t see the trend swinging back the other way. Within the lingerie industry specifically, plus-size styles have been doing very well for Lovehoney. Continuing our success in this area has been very exciting, and we’ve got plenty of new ideas in the works.
What do these trends tell us about the future retail landscape in the UK?
Personalisation is key. People want to feel like a shopping experience is tailored for them, especially online. They want to see the products, sizing and promotions made relevant to them, in the simplest, easiest way possible.
What role has the intimate apparel industry played in shifting the landscape?
The intimate apparel industry has been more concerned with personalisation for a long time. The emphasis on fit and customer service has always been really important, and it’s something we at Lovehoney Lingerie really pride ourselves on. We have the largest database of reviews in the world for our brand offering – we’ve just hit 150,000 – and customer feedback has been key in influencing the design process for our upcoming ranges.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the last 12 months?
Keeping on top of consumer demand is always a challenge, and there are things we wish we’d ordered more of because they were so successful. As we continue to develop and grow our brand we need to keep referring back to the huge bank of amazing customer reviews and responding to what the Lovehoney customer wants.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We’re constantly evaluating our performance – looking back is as important as looking forward. If we don’t have enough stock first time, we put ourselves out there and reinvest in the styles our customers love.
What were your proudest moments of 2016?
One of the biggest achievements for the company was winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. It’s such an honour for Lovehoney to be recognised in this way – everyone here is incredibly proud. The launch of our biggest (and best) sexy lingerie collection Seduce Me was also a massive triumph for the team. We’re also thrilled to be nominated for two UK Lingerie Awards. Lovehoney is up against some big names, and it’s just brilliant to be nominated.
What are your plans for the New Year?
There’s no rest for the wicked. We’re expecting a record breaking Valentine’s Day for Lovehoney Lingerie, so it’s all hands on deck in January preparing for our busiest selling season.
Who are the intimate apparel brands to watch in 2017?
I’m really excited to see what Coco de Mer is doing, especially with its Fifty Shades Darker range, which is avilable at a more affordable price points.
What trends do you predict for AW17?
We’re expecting a real emphasis on rich, dark colours and textures in more traditional, sophisticated styles for AW17. We’ve already seen some of it coming through with our Seduce Me collection and Lovehoney Lingerie’s first ever print, Midnight Bloom, which comes in a gorgeous robe and babydoll.