INTERVIEW: INDX Intimate Apparel organiser Amanda Partridge

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UK lingerie and swimwear trade show INDX Intimate Apparel will return next month with more than double the usual number exhibitors, proving the continued demand for industry exhibitions in today’s market. In an exclusive interview, chief organiser Amanda Partridge picks out the highlights from the show.

INDX Intimate Apparel will return to Solihull next month with its most inclusive exhibition to date.

The show, organised by UK buying group Associated Independent Stores (AIS), will host a record-breaking number of exhibitors and an extended format, opening on a Sunday for the first time.

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The news follows and unprecedented demand for exhibition space at Cranmore Park following Moda’s announcement that it will not include lingerie and swimwear in its line-up at NEC Birmingham this year.

INDX Intimate Apparel organiser Amanda Partridge.

INDX Intimate Apparel organiser Amanda Partridge.

Speaking to Lingerie Insight in an exclusive interview, Amanda Partridge, chief organiser for INDX Intimate Apparel, explains that AIS saw the closure as an opportunity to unite major brands in the intimate apparel industry for the first time in years.

“Brands and retailers have been extremely positive and there is a lot of excitement building around the SS18 show,” says Partridge, who’s worked as a buyer in the independent sector for more than 12 years.

“Everyone has been very supportive and generally delighted that INDX Intimate Apparel will be bringing the whole industry together, one show, one place, one time,” she adds.

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INDX Intimate Apparel usually presents 70 brands, but exhibitor numbers are expected to more than double this year, with 140 labels having confirmed their attendance.

So how has the show made room for the extra numbers?

“We are fortunate that our venue in Solihull – Cranmore Park, is a purpose-built exhibition centre with exceptional facilities and over 3,000m2 of exhibition space,” explains Partridge.

“To accommodate our expansion, the August edition of the show will utilise more exhibition space than ever before and visitors will be able to view brands across three interconnecting showrooms.”

Among the brands exhibiting this season, more than 40 will be making their INDX debut.

“We have so many brands to choose from this season that there will be something to inspire every retailer, from small shops and department stores to luxury boutiques,” says Partridge.

Visitor numbers are expected to reach record heights too, with an unprecedented number of registrations already received, according to AIS.

“We are looking forward to welcoming a significant number of first-time visitors alongside our regular attendees and are expecting an increase in footfall from across the whole of the UK and Ireland,” explains Partridge.

As well as an increase in the number of collections on display, an extra day of trading is expected to result in a bumper turn-out.

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“Due to popular demand, the SS18 show will be extended from a two-day to a three-day format and, this August, we will be opening on a Sunday for the first time,” Partridge says.

“This change is something our retailers and exhibitors have been particularly pleased about.”

Discussing what visitors can expect from this season’s show, Partridge says that there will continue to be a strong “wellness aesthetic” running through lingerie and loungewear collections for SS18.

“Buyers will see an emphasis on softness and comfort with feminine sheers, delicate layering, second-skin neutrals, intricate lace and romantic embroidery,” she adds.

In direct contrast to understated lingerie and loungewear trends, swimwear is expected to be louder than ever.

“Buyers will find vibrant citrus hues and decorative prints alongside exotic tropicals and sporty geometrics in the new SS18 swim collections,” continues Partridge.

The chief organiser of the show has also identified post-surgery underwear and shapewear as strong focal points of the forthcoming exhibition.

“Post-surgery is definitely a key growth area,” she explains. “We are becoming better at and more open in discussing women’s health issues generally and obviously breast cancer is one of the most wide-reaching topics.

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“We are also becoming more focused on well-being and taking care of ourselves and, through listening to their customers’ demands, more retailers are beginning to realise the importance of stocking post-surgery/mastectomy product ranges.”

Partridge believes growth in the shapewear sector will be driven by the wellness trend, technical advancements and celebrity endorsement. She also notes that more retailers are beginning to pay attention to add-on sales by stocking complementary ranges, including underwear solutions and accessories.

INDX Intimate Apparel will take place from 6-8 August at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre in Solihull.

The Future of Retail

Amanda Partridge on what challenges and opportunities she expects the intimate apparel industry to face over the next year.

“Retailers will be faced with uncertainty in the wake of Brexit and, at a time when consumers will be reviewing their spending habits, the intimate apparel industry will need to reaffirm its status as a lifestyle essential.

Independent retailers will come into their own by listening to their customers and focusing on providing excellent fitting product, excellent choice and excellent service. Although it carries its own challenges, omni-channel retailing still provides business owners with a huge opportunity to increase sales, provided suppliers and retailers work hand-in-hand. Of course, there is an excellent opportunity within the add-on sales arena, which many retailers are yet to take advantage of.”

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