For the first time in some seasons, the lingerie and swimwear market has jumped heavily on the womenswear bandwagon of florals, ruching and colour trends for spring 09.
Even though the lingerie industry tends to align its trends to those in the womenswear market – particularly as far as the colour palette is concerned – spring 09 saw one of the closest parallels for some seasons.
An explosion of colour and florals alongside a penchant for ruching featured across most brands, with lingerie collections embracing ditzy floral embroideries and coral pink hues – as seen on brands at womenswear show Pure – while swimwear ranges opted for full-blown blooms and bright shades of blue, a move on from last year’s darker palette. Ruching brought the two together, with crossover bikini tops and bulge-masking draping on briefs.
Elsewhere, the one-piece cemented its comeback of last year by broadening the mix to include more halterneck, bandeau and cut-out styles, while polka dots and animal prints were scattered across both lingerie and swimwear ranges.
But the talk of the town – especially at the Harrogate Lingerie & Swimwear Exhibition – continued to be that of fit, with brands that specialise in bigger cup sizes emerging as the winners.
“Good fitting brands are still what we go for,” said Kathryn Rolfe, co-owner of Kathryn Rolfe Lingerie in York. “Fit and labels that offer small back sizes are key.”
Traditional fit specialists like Panache and Triumph are now looking to capitalise on their strength by targeting a younger customer, with Panache launching new sub brand Cleo for spring 09 and Triumph pushing new, younger collections Daisy Desire and Exquisite Desire, which according to the brand, have been well-received by buyers.
With the average UK bra size around 36D, no longer are bigger cups sizes reserved for an older generation.
Peter Cronin, sales director at Panache, admitted that Cleo was conceived as a direct competitor to Eveden’s Freya. “Freya is doing very well and we felt there was no alternative in the market,” he said.
What remains to be seen is how the lingerie industry will fare in an economic downturn. So far, buyers are relatively upbeat with budgets up for spring 09 and the weather not proving to be a significant factor in determining trading. Brands playing catch-up to the established fit specialists will need to prove their fitting credentials while offering a point of difference – competing heavily on price is a dangerous game when the high street has so much to offer.