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.
Over the coming days, we’ll publish a Q&A with a different retailer, from Bravissimo to House of Fraser.
Part One features Figleaves head of buying, Jenni Burt.
What were the biggest lingerie retail trends of 2016?
Strapping has been huge again this year. It is now embraced by all brands to some extent, and we’ve seen it move from having a harder edge to featuring softer colour palettes, prints and fabrics, making it accessible for everyone, through most items of lingerie and apparel.
What do these trends tell us about the future retail landscape in the UK?
I think it shows the lack of resistance now to trends and how quickly we have evolved as an industry to be able to get new shapes, styles and fabrics to a mass market at a faster pace. Anything goes and there’s everything to play for.
What role has the intimate apparel industry played in shifting the landscape?
The most exciting shift that’s been seen is the breaking down of boundaries between typical lingerie and nightwear and wearing it to be seen. From the bralette that we’ve seen transform from a sleep bra to a fashion item worn with high waist pants and under sheer shirts, to the strong pyjama coordinate sets that we’ve seen come through more than ever for this Autumn/Winter, it’s all going on. Watching shop floors migrate lingerie within their visual merchandising and seeing ‘how to wear’ lingerie spreads in magazines is also really exciting.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the last 12 months?
Managing the re-brand of Figleaves. It is a challenging journey to take an established brand and bring it up to date, not only for the now, but for the future. The process took over a year from concept through to launch. This, alongside re-platforming Figleaves, has most definitely been our biggest challenge.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Talking to and knowing our customers and what is important to them, keeping the online journey simple and ensuring that there is just the right amount of inspiration to excite the customer.
What were your proudest moments of 2016?
Growth in private label – we have seen double digit growth again on swimwear and we have continued to challenge the norms of creating a considered collection of fashionable swimwear that you can wear up to a G cup.
What are your plans for the New Year?
We have an exciting new private label launch for Figleaves SS17 lingerie and nightwear, including some beautiful
prints and new shapes with matching coordinates.
Who are the intimate apparel brands to watch in 2017?
For us, L’Agent always continues to surprise and wow. Another brand we are really excited about is the re-launch of Dita Von Teese – a great way to kick off the New Year.
What trends to you predict for AW17?
It’s all about texture for AW17 – velvets, satin, sheer and luxe noble yarns like cashmere. Nightwear and loungewear will sit seamlessly alongside lingerie.