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Salon International de la Lingerie: A sector more dynamic than ever

By Julia Garel


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Credit : Heist Studios.

Salon International de la Lingerie was well attended this weekend. Held from January 21 to 23 and now operated by WSN, the event demonstrated the resilience of the sector in a context of inflation and rising energy costs. FashionUnited looks back at the highlights of this year's AW23 edition.

A fresh start

For their first official iterations under the WSN umbrella, trade shows Salon International de la Lingerie and Interfilière were given a fresh look. As soon as visitors entered, they were led down the main aisle to the sector's heavyweights - the likes of Chantelle, Cosabella, Wacoal, and more. Next, they see the Exposed area, the trend forum, and a catering area, before being led to meet the exhibitors of Interfilière, the trade fair dedicated to suppliers in the lingerie sector. A tangerine-coloured scenography brought a refreshing touch to the physical unity of the event.

The organisation of the space thus succeeded in bringing together both historical players and newcomers in an atmosphere which, despite the competition, gave a feeling of cohesion and positivity. Happy to meet again after editions limited by Covid-linked constraints, industry professionals seemed revitalized and energized, perhaps by the growing share of loungewear in the clothing market, and by the beneficial spotlight that the fashion world is currently shining on lingerie.

Image: Salon International de la Lingerie - Paris, January 2023 | Credit: FashionUnited

‘Lingerie is a garment in its own right’

For several seasons now, the bra has been appearing on the catwalks of ready-to-wear collections, from Dior to Acne Studio. The trend of the new sexy - reappropriation of sexy codes through female empowerment - is pushing luxury brands to reveal bodies and undergarments. This trend, according to Renaud Cambuzat, the creative director of the Chantelle group, will continue in the seasons to come.

“Lingerie is a garment in its own right,” said Maud Friocourt, the artistic director at Simone Pérèle, during a conference titled ‘Lingerie-loungewear-activewear: a market that is changing codes’. “Lingerie is no longer created as underwear, but as clothing,” she added.

While just a few years ago, showing bra straps could be seen as a sign of bad taste, it is now the opposite. Straps are on show, while lacy bodysuits are worn as tops with nothing else. “Lingerie becomes an expression of personality, of style,” Friocourt said in an interview with FashionUnited. “I think it's extraordinary.”

Image: Salon International de la Lingerie - Paris, January 2023 | Credit: WSN

Mathieu Grodner, Simone Pérèle's general manager, said: “It is important that this show is inspired by what is happening today in fashion, since lingerie naturally follows the history of fashion and, more and more, is inspired by fashion trends, so it is quite natural that the show itself carries this message.”

It is also worth noting that, alongside bras and panties, the homewear and loungewear segment continues to gain ground in stores globally. Mathieu Grodner points out that the Simone Pérèle brand now rarely launches a new piece of lingerie without a corresponding homewear item. Moreover, a new term has entered the sector and has been added to the range: Sloungewear, a combination of sleepwear, activewear, and loungewear.

Simone Pérèle is preparing to celebrate its 75th anniversary in the second half of 2023 and will open an outlet shop this year in a shopping centre near Giverny. Currently, the company has 58 directly operated shops worldwide, of which about 20 are in France.

Innovations in the lingerie sector

The lingerie sector remains active in terms of innovation. One thinks in particular of the period panties which came to shake up the sector a few years ago and which now continue to progress through swimwear.

Period swimwear is “a product that exploded in 2022”, says Charlotte Thomas, the marketing and sales director of the Réjeanne brand, a pioneer in the periodwear market and present for the second time at the show. The period lingerie company was launched in 2018 and offers, in addition to its panties, leggings and running shorts, and is expanding its range of swimwear, with pieces designed for a light flow.

The brand is also innovating in terms of technology and is taking flow gradation up a notch with its new Réjeanne Absolu range, which is capable of wicking away up to five to six tampons' worth of liquid. Finally, the brand now offers period panties with a fastening system that allows you to change without having to undress completely.

Another product innovation is shapewear. Shaping lingerie is being modernised through brands like Heist Studio. The company, which was launched in 2015 and specialises in tights, is about to launch its first shapewear line. The pieces have been designed to sheath without compressing and allow the wearer the freedom to sit and move without any discomfort.

Eco-design: ‘We can no longer work in silos’

But one point of innovation where industry players must continue their efforts is in the area of eco-responsibility. At the show, almost all brands were communicating their initiatives towards more sustainable production, with many referencing their use of recycled fibres. But this is only the beginning.

“Today, lingerie ends up in incineration.”

Grégory Darcy, the sustainable development director of the Chantelle Group.

“Eco-design, in our industry, is the fundamental issue,” said Grégory Darcy, the sustainable development director of the Chantelle Group, during a conference titled ‘Prospective trends in CSR: the 2030 challenges of the lingerie industry’. “When we build a bra, we build it with different materials: plastic, metal, synthetics, sometimes natural fibres, and in these areas, we still have a lot to do,” he said.

He continued: “Today we have to work in a chain. We can no longer work in silos, we need to work together to find solutions, because even if we imagine having channels that allow us to recover products at the end of their life, today linen often still ends up in incineration.”

Communication on the subject is and will be progressively subject to more regulations, both at national and European level as authorities aim to improve transparency in consumer information and tackle the problem of greenwashing. The Fédération de la Maille, de la Lingerie & du Balnéaire will publish in a few months a revised guide on environmental claims.

Lingerie, a model of inclusiveness

Because the lingerie sector designs clothing that fully embraces the body, the industry has been at the forefront of body positivism - a movement in favour of the acceptance and appreciation of all human bodies. And its players intend to continue leading by example.

Image: Salon International de la Lingerie - Paris, January 2023 | Credit: WSN

Walking the aisles of the show, it was not uncommon to come across models in skimpy outfits, juxtaposed against visitors in winter clothes. Between the stands, a young woman with XXL curves walked around in a simple thong and a lace-up bra without raising any eyebrows.

A little later, the models who paraded during the shows organised by the show had, like everyone else, cellulite. While Fashion Weeks often fail to reflect the reality of body diversity, here the variety of body types is obvious. There is still work to be done, but overall, it is clear that lingerie is ahead of many other fashion categories in terms of body representation.

On Monday, trend forecaster and designer Dinah Sultan and strategic consultant Estelle Mysliwiak emphasised the importance of body representation at a conference entitled ‘Winter 23-24 Trends by Peclers Paris’. The experts mentioned several brands that are leading the way. Among them: Les Girls Les Boys, Knix, Boy Smells, Cantiq, and Lou Manesse. Now it’s up to the rest to follow suit.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR before being translated and edited to English

Salon International de la Lingerie