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 UK Tights and UK Lingerie managing director Dawn Barber.
What were the biggest lingerie and hosiery retail trends of 2016?
Fishnets, lace and geometric patterns have been the best-selling trends in 2016. As Christmas approaches, sparkle styles are becoming more and more popular. In lingerie, good-fitting wins. They’ll be lots of comfortable styles with a classic elegant finish, supportive elements and small adornments, such as lace and mesh panels.
What do these trends tell us about the future retail landscape in the UK?
Hosiery is at the peak of its popularity at the moment. Gucci, Max Mara and other luxury brands have boosted the recovery of the hosiery sector and fashion magazines have announced a trend shift. Fashion hosiery has sold out better than ever and we expect it to keep on this good track for at least two more seasons.
What role has the intimate apparel industry played in shifting the landscape?
We feel that intimate apparel is carrying the clothing industry forward at present; it’s a great way to accessorise in a downturn, which stops you from having to spend money on new clothing. However, retail in general is more complicated. The high street is dwindling and retail is suffering, but the internet is making almost all industries more profitable and lingerie is adapting faster than anything.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the last 12 months?
Taking over My Tights was massive. We had to coordinate this with the launch of our latest brand, UK Lingerie, so there was a lot going on back in March and April 2016.
How did you overcome these challenges?
My team was amazing. They worked tirelessly to pull everything together. Our suppliers were wonderful and helped us as much as they possibly could when it comes to trade agreements and supply of goods.
What were your proudest moments of 2016?
When we first launched our own website from our dining room at home, no one took us seriously. So when we then took over My Tights 10 years later – a company we thought was insurmountable – it reminded us how far we had come and what a great job we’d done. We received many warm wishes and congratulations from our customers who shared our pride.
What are your plans for the New Year?
Our plans are to consolidate our three brands and then move forward with UK Activewear. Once we have acquired more space for our warehouse, we will move forward with the activewear site.
Who are the intimate apparel brands to watch in 2017?
We will be bringing ITEM M6 into our store in the coming weeks and we anticipate that this will do very well with our customers. In lingerie, we will be bringing in new brands from Europe, as we have recently visited Latvia and have found high quality goods that offer great value for money.
What trends to you predict for AW17?
For hosiery, we will make a return to punk style: large fishnets, cut outs, bright colours, jazzy patterns, etc. Fashion socks are hot too, and both tights and socks will be worn all year round, even with sandals. At the same time, activewear has influenced hosiery, so we are going to see more comfortable legwear, with leg support and additional features. Bondage-inspired lingerie is meant to be trendy next season with the release of Fifty Shades Darker. At the same time, bralettes and sports bras will be hot in the AW17 season.