SIL and Interfilière Make Paris Return After Two-year Hiatus

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PARIS — In a challenging context related to the global supply chain crisis, the Salon International de la Lingerie and Interfilière made their return to Paris on June 18 after a pandemic-related absence of two and a half years.

Many brands presenting at SIL — showcasing lingerie and swimwear collections for spring 2023 — said the timing of the three-day showcase at Porte de Versailles, six months after the January edition was canceled at the last minute, had prevented them from getting spring 2023 collections ready to show to customers in time, especially given the difficulties in sourcing and shipping fabrics and components, with certain brands showcasing prototypes and others unable to present their full lineup.

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Traditionally, the Mode City event for spring collections and swimwear takes place in early July.

“The date change had us push in a time of supply chain challenges,” summed up Guido Campello, Cosabella’s general manager. “It takes a lot to move up a collection by six weeks. Hats off to all the brands that were able to accomplish that.”

But most were just glad to be back and keen to show support for the profession, especially for the multibrand store clientele for whom the event is essential.

“This was a celebration of the return to the market,” Campello said. “We saw excitement from the specialty stores and boutiques for all the brands that exhibited.”

Over the past two years, attendees observed, independent lingerie retailers, which tend to have stores in smaller urban centers, have performed better than department stores, bucking a trend that had seen smaller players struggle for several years.

Overall, after several years of sales declines that had been weighing on the industry even before the pandemic hit, French lingerie sales saw significant gains last year.

Lingerie and hosiery sales in France reached 2.72 billion euros in 2021, up 6.5 percent year-over-year and gaining 13.5 percent on 2019.

“2021 was our best year ever,” said Wacoal Europe marketing and communications manager Sophie Knis. “Consumers are going back to stores. There is pent-up demand and many women have changed sizes, which is driving business.”

The French corsetry-makers, who account for a significant footprint, at SIL are also seeing strong demand in international markets, several executives said.

“We’re growing strongly on all of our markets,” said Olivier Piquet, managing director of Lise Charmel. “Swimwear is doing particularly well, as are sportier designs.”

“Department stores, with a few rare exceptions, are continuing to suffer, but specialized boutiques that offer high levels of service to local markets, and cultivate relationships with their customers, keeping them coming back, are doing really well,” he added.

The other majors exhibitors reported similar trends. “We had a great year in 2021, all the signs are positive,” said Simone Pérèle product and image director Stéphanie Bujard Pérèle. “North America and Australia, in particular, are very dynamic. It’s almost frenetic, people have been really keen to begin consuming again.”

Last year, Simone Pérèle launched a new sister brand, called Simone, with a younger, more “audacious” positioning, and it has performed well, she said.

Inside the Salon International de la Lingerie and Interfilière Paris - Credit: Mahana Prod
Inside the Salon International de la Lingerie and Interfilière Paris - Credit: Mahana Prod

Mahana Prod

But while business is strong, she said, supply chain issues are taking their toll. “Lead times are longer, and prices are still going up.” The technical nature of corsetry means that the company is largely tied to existing suppliers. “We can’t change suppliers overnight, we need to learn to work better together,” she said.

Such challenges — and the pressure to ramp up on the sustainability front — are pushing brands to work with suppliers closer to home, observers said. This has been benefiting the top end of the market, where local sourcing was already a differentiator.

Lise Charmel’s Piquet, for example, said the company has been largely unaffected by supply chain issues, given that it already sourced most of its raw materials within Europe.

“Most of our production is in France,” said Groupe Chantelle image director Renaud Cambuzat, adding that “with the cost of raw materials, transport issues, Ukraine, we are having to reinforce our resilience.”

“Brands have focused on proximity sourcing and reduced the size of some of their collections,” observed Comexposium marketing and communication director Cécile Vivier. “The major winners among suppliers are the Euromed region and Turkey.”

While SIL’s footprint was significantly smaller than in the past — with 200 exhibitors — at fabric event Interfilière, exhibitor numbers were stable at around 150. To alleviate challenges for Chinese exhibitors unable to travel, the show created a showroom area so they could show their products, staffing it with hostesses briefed in each supplier’s portfolios.

In terms of traffic, while Comexposium did not release visitor numbers, it highlighted that 55 percent of footfall had been international. “It feels like a normal edition,” said WSN managing director Frédéric Maus, who took over responsibility for the event for the first time.

“We saw a great presence of international visitors, mostly from outside of Europe,” Campello said.

There was a marked return to sexier styles at the show, and this was seen as a positive for the market, notably for the French corsetry specialists.

“2020 was all about one-size-fits-all, the no-bra trend,” Vivier said. “Sexy lingerie is making a big comeback, and this shift makes sense, as the minimalist trend is much less attractive from a business standpoint.”

This was visible at the show in Groupe Chantelle’s showcasing of its new high-end line Chantelle X. Launched in January, the label was showing its second collection.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback from all the different distribution channels,” Cambuzat said. “It’s interesting to see that it is attracting a broad clientele, and I think its footprint will be more international than that of Chantal Thomass,” he added, referring to the divestment of the label announced in January.

Among newcomers — which were plentiful — and returning exhibitors were Scandale, which relaunched last year with a sustainable positioning, made with 80 percent recycled fibers and 72 percent recycled metallic components.

Originally launched in 1932, the brand — owned by Swedish group Hop Lun — has focused on sourcing close to its office in Hong Kong, removing the need to send samples across the world during product development, which is a significant factor in the environmental footprint of many lingerie brands, chief executive officer Edouard Roche, a former L’Oréal executive, explained.

Within a space for crowdfunded brands selected thanks to WSN’s partnership with Ulule, there was genderless label Avant Minuit, founded by former Aubade modelist Adélaïde Brient. Using deadstock lace and organic cotton, the young brand offers a range designed to fit all body types and sizes.

There was also Un Cri de Joie, founded by Marion Abidi and Rym Hosna, which offers customizable bras that adapt to different breast sizes, for example after mastectomy or during breastfeeding. With a luxury positioning and using high-end fabrics, the label’s production is based in Groupe Chantelle’s incubator at its Epernay factory.

When it came to trends, observers noted a marked shift towards bright pastel shades when it came to lingerie, while for loungewear and beachwear, metallics were visible, for example in Groupe Chantelle’s Passionata collection of vintage-inspired ribbed swimsuits with gold threads, or newcomer Fillandises’ collection of vivid metallic kimonos, showing in the Millennials space at the entrance to SIL.

The Exposed section — a show-in-show for edgy labels — was the biggest yet, with an offer of 42 labels offering ready-to-wear, legwear and sexual well-being as well as lingerie and beachwear. Exposed founder Matthieu Pinet said he is seeing more interest from brands in the trade show format. “Before the pandemic, young brands thought they could succeed without wholesale, mentalities are changing and many have realized that they can’t,” he said.

Highlights in the section included Polish label Ydunn, with its vivid silk kimonos bridging rtw and loungewear, Livy, a young luxury brand under Groupe Etam that is opening up wholesale, and quirky legwear from French designer Lauren Perrin, who after launching her business online thanks to collaborations with celebrities and influencers, wrote her first orders from retailers at the show.

Launch Gallery: SIL and Interfilière Make Paris Return After Two Year Hiatus

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