For this year, there are a lot of printed fabrics, very strong colours, very cute like pink, green, prints a bit like the 1970s, a return to forms a bit... designer, ready to wear, a lot of mix and match, materials like lace, strips, flowers.
Fuchsia, anise, a lot of each colour, we are going back to buying traditional things like black and white, a lot of invisible shades which are based on skin, and at the same time lingerie which is visible which shows more and more.
We are distributing to the mass market a range of strapless bras and tops which show what's below, above, but especially above as it's very original, we're intending to make very nice things because in fact we also make high fashion and in fact we apply our techniques of high fashion to the mass market and that is very rare. So we make very nice things even for ready to wear.
We are in Fashion City Lyon, one of the biggest showrooms of the world for lingerie and bathing costumes. Handsome boys, beautiful girls and everywhere the atmosphere is especially an atmosphere of work, since the French spend 2.5 billion euros per year on lingerie: one fifth of their clothes budget. It is big business and the competition is keen. To win at this you do not simply sell a garment, you have sell an idea of well-being. Claude Chalume for the brand "Le Chat":
Le chat in fact is a collection which addresses today's women, who want to keep it, and need to work for her lingerie because we sell night wear and house wear which are rather traditional and useful garments and we make for them, we have made for them, a product which is in fact more exciting. For practical reason, they can buy this product for pleasure. We sell to the big labels and to the department stores in France and abroad, department stores such as Printemps, Galaries Lafayette.
Ingrid Lefebvre is the brand manager for Eminence.
We have tried to create a bigger and wider world, around leisurewear, home ware, linked to lingerie. So for each moment of life, the theme being quite feminine while being at ease with the new textile technology and clothes adapted to the figure. It is very much for the city dweller.
And Christian Lacroix Lingerie:
At the same time, it is femininity with slightly rising panties, sexy, we come out a little... we have the spirit of the bedroom which is enhanced even more with the decorative embroidery, lace superimposed on a strong printed fabric, for a lingerie more designer, that I would call delicate, delicious, there you are then. It is a very different world but I think that a woman has more than one role and loves to get dressed in the morning in 15 minutes, making little repairs throughout the day, giving herself pleasure with the gentle colours of the brand Lacroix.
We are progressing more and more and we sell more and more of the item below above, which are coordinated with the lingerie that makes a woman buy items all together which have a look together, and these items boost sales so... we have a link with ready made clothes which is inevitable and so we enlarge the market in effect like that. Lingerie is an accessory, like a handbag, like the shoes, it has become something indispensable and women forget the functional side of lingerie and enjoy themselves more and more with it.
Is there specifically French lingerie? Claude Chalume thinks so, especially in the eyes of foreigners:
Abroad, we are seen as having a very effective French style, refined and creative. There is a French style - it is the foreigners who say that, it's not us. There is a way of dealing with lingerie which is at one and the same time both modern and refined, whilst generally it is one or the other but not both.
Eric Vilmar is the manager of Asian exports for the brand Princess Tam-Tam:
I think that there is a French image: there is good fitting in the sizes of the products, in the designs that we can offer; there is still this search for colours, materials, all of the materials are from Europe with lace from Calais, some semi precious things, all brought together to be a little casual with materials such as cotton which can put now either on the outside of the inside, that's a real idea, finally you can wear a slip just as much in the street today as in the home on getting out of bed.
The show attracts around 20,000 professionals in the business, so it is a good time for networking.
I am a manufacturer. So I am here only to see some of my customers, seeing what's going on, the trends and the networking: close to the customer, as usual.
And there are some big customers in the audience. For example, Karine Imbert who deals with bathing costumes for the brand Tribord for the big chain of sports shops, Decathlon:
We came partly to see the trends and we bought some designs and met our suppliers for the follow-on from the collection which will be coming next year in the shops and we can see what's new, with our suppliers and new suppliers for the future.
How do you detect the next trend?
We try at one and the same time to capture the strong trends and to try to create ideas of our own to avoid being like everyone else. We have seen lots of xxxx, lots of polka dots, lots of very bright colours, and then the opposite, things much darker, more ?, more ?, simpler things, there really is a contrast.
Choosing for a business of 14,000 employees is a heavy responsibility. You cannot base it simply on your own instincts; you must try to guess the tastes of your customers.
Ah, that's a job... we don't come to do it at the show; it's something that we have thought about it in advance. We know them in relation to the shops what we have and then we try to understand them better by watching how they are using our products. We test our products with the users: people who do sport, since we are a sport business.
The show attracts exhibitors from all over the world. They are trying to win manufacturing contracts. Faced with competition from developing countries, there is little domestic manufacturing left in France and for the survivors, it's hard. Regis Monclercq of Monclercq Embroidery in Outreaux:
Well we say that it is really difficult competing with tech competition because we have however a policy of creation and providing something that has value when we create something there is a cost and we then we have troubling including this cost of creation when compared to our competitors which come to us on the prices, I mean, which break the market. If we were to get to not... to reducing our costs, I think that we could get to something more competitive, compared to... the salaries of developing countries.
Another business which tries to manufacture despite free globalisation is Altheane. Ludvine Clinton:
So what is implicit in this approach of free markets, is to ensure that the women who are working in the shanty towns in Manila making clothes, just lingerie in simple white, for social programs concerning accommodation, health, in the end that they improve their everyday situation, in fact. It is not only white cotton of very good quality, it's a lot of embroidery, of lace, it's super light cotton, night dresses, long sleeves, short sleeves, but also pyjamas, little privateers trying to make smart little things, not just old fashioned things.
In spite of the ups and downs of fashion, Altheane remains faithful to white cotton:
Well in fact there are many people who like rediscovering a little part of their childhood; people come to us and say "Ah, it is what I used to ear when... I was a bit younger; my grandmother who was Greek made me little night shirts just like that".
Where are the men in this business? The men do not have much effect on the market apparently, because there are very few stands for male lingerie. Pierre Clementine imports lingerie for men for the Lyon business "Impulsion".
The male market is far from being at its peak, in so far as it is very weak by comparison to the female market. Nevertheless we have however good years ahead of us, for the simple and good reason that until recent years, 70 per cent of purchases were made by women, girl friends, mothers etc., etc. and not by the wearer himself. The latest studies show that 50 per cent of men buy their own underwear. That makes us hopeful however for good years. So, the man changes, sport also has favoured change in products... the sensitivity of men to the feminine part, let's say, that he must take on much more than in the part and that means that, my goodness, he is not ashamed to be in boxer shorts which are a little bit sexy etc., etc, and then he is also more and more inclined to take care of his body, notably by going to the sports centre, and he likes to change with his underwear which has the appearance of underwear and not of an old bag.
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