Sexy lingerie has been capturing the imaginations of designers, photographers and models for many years, from flappers in the 1920s to Bettie Page in the 1950s. But the lingerie market has never been more diverse — or more competitive — than it is in the digital age. And in 2017, manufacturers of lingerie and sexy attire are marketing a wide variety of options ranging from pasties, long gloves and bustiers to corsets and BDSM-influenced attire.
Heather Stockton, spokesperson for Coquette International, emphasized that in 2017, the lingerie providers who enjoy the greatest profits will be those who offer customers an “experience.”
You have to turn the customer’s head in a densely populated world of nearly identical product. -Wilson Kello, Pink Lipstick Lingerie
“Lingerie merchandising is all about selling an experience,” Stockton told XBIZ. “So, displaying lingerie in a manner that tells a story is most effective. Sometimes, this means using mannequins and props; sometimes, it’s suggestive photography. But the overall outcome needs to speak to consumers on a visual level. The same principle applies in marketing.”
Stockton added, “Consumers will spend a lot of money on a lingerie outfit if it makes them feel and look great. Again, it’s about selling an experience. An outfit is no longer just a baby doll or a bustier; it’s the matching thigh highs, the pasties, the cute panties and the gloves. It’s planning for the whole night — the reveal, the seduction and the striptease. A consumer who’s buying one piece isn’t sold on their experience.”
Andy Green, president of XGen Products in Horsham, Penn., near Philadelphia, observed that in 2017, “add-on sales” are great for the lingerie market — and while there is a profit to be made in selling one or two items, selling an entire outfit is even more profitable.
“I have heard stories from stores that people will spend upwards of $200 on an outfit when you factor in lingerie, shoes/boots, wigs, pasties, jewelry,” Green told XBIZ. “And the best part is that XGen makes all of these kinds of accessories and add-ons. We have realized that a major component of a store’s revenue is add-on sales: a customer will start with a (basic) piece of lingerie or some sort of apparel and then, go throughout the store and add on to make it a complete look. So, whether it’s our Pleasure Wigs, Peekaboo Pasties or Lapdance Jewelry — whatever they need, we have them covered.”
Lisa Linh, social media manager for Seven ‘til Midnight, noted that while lingerie enthusiasts are looking for quality in 2017, they also appreciate a bargain.
“We believe consumers will spend less than $50 on lingerie, which includes hosiery, gloves, pasties, panties and garter belts,” Linh told XBIZ. “Lingerie isn’t exactly the first thing that people will want to buy, and usually, they purchase it on special occasions. However, we are making styles that fit perfectly into the mainstream lifestyles and are versatile.”
Wilson Kello, creative director of Pink Lipstick Lingerie, pointed out that BDSM-influenced lingerie remains a popular niche in 2017.
“Harsh, in-your-face bondage styles blow me away — black on black on black,”Kello told XBIZ, adding that “newness” is vital in today’s ultra-competitive lingerie market.
“You have to turn the customer’s head in a densely populated world of nearly identical product,” Kello asserted. “And you have to stay ahead of the curve. That’s why you see the occasional wacko style that just doesn’t work; sometimes, it’s actually a bold attempt to test something new.”
Kello added that finding models to promote a product or a brand need not be overly complicated.
“I hire models directly from Instagram now,” Kello explained. “They’re not interested in casting calls, etc.; it’s more like, ‘Here are my pics, hire me.’ Connect with them and get killer content, and they promote you back.”
Jeff Baker, president of Magic Silk and its sister company Male Power, cited the “athleisure” look and “metallic” as important lingerie trends for 2017.
“Trends to look forward to this year are comfortability and simple and comfortable garments using soft materials and muted colors,” Baker told XBIZ. “Another trend is the athletic look, or what is now called athleisure. High necks and low plunge silhouettes are also trending. Expect to see soft, muted neutrals, greens, burgundy and muted blue shades. Metallics in rose, copper, gold and silver are also popular now. Fabrics with a soft-hand feel and lightweight laces representing comfortability are the current focus.”
The lingerie market received a major shock in early January when the International Lingerie Show (ILS) announced that it was ceasing operations after 20 years. However, the new Altitude Lingerie Show will debut at Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from Apr. 2-4, and Baker said that Magic Silk/Male Power looks forward to exhibiting.
“The ILS show has been the show for over 20 years, but it became so familiar to all — and it lost the allure along the way,” Baker asserted. “There’s much intrigue about the unknown; Altitude can bring the excitement back to the industry. Some buyers have said they’d like to wait it out and hear about the show, but it appears that most would like to be present to see what it’s all about rather than hear about it second-hand. We are expecting a very busy show, and our booth will be fully staffed and prepared to handle the anticipated demand.”
Green is excited about Altitude’s potential. “This will be a great show,” Green predicted, adding that “buyers are excited for a new venue that is on the Strip. All of the best companies will be exhibiting, and XGen will have its largest booth there showing all of the new items across all of our lines... I am bringing my entire sales staff, and we are ready to sell and see our customers and friends.”
Linh stressed that lingerie providers are not only marketing lingerie — they are also marketing a brand. And the more consumers are attracted to a brand, she said, the more likely they will be to purchase additional products.
“We believe marketing, reputation and quality are the key points in driving sales,” Linh stressed. “All components are needed to attract customers. Give them a reason to buy and a reason to come back.”