A guest post by Catherine Clavering of Kiss Me Deadly.
Trade shows are a weird environment – an entirely temporary market installation, full of brands and buyers, all slightly traumatised by the perpetually orange lighting and lack of air. On the upside, it’s always nice to see your colleagues as they are veritable hives of gossip.
Most brands who can, will exhibit at a circuit of trade shows across the globe and their own country. But as the costs pretty much start at £2000 (~ $3,000) and go up – plus staffing – small brands don’t do all of the shows. So, since Cora will see many of the same brands we do at Paris in a months time in New York, I thought I’d try and track down the indies who won’t make it that far this season. I am, of course, an utterly biased writer on this topic, but hopefully I’ve managed to pick something you might like!
I photographed a set by Playful Promises, who as you know we often share events with so yes, there’s the bias thing. But seriously, does your inner matchy-matchy instinct not get really excited about a lingerie brand that has a sister clothing brand that uses the same prints?! Bizarrely, I actually love this pastel, baby deers, and roses print. I know, I can’t explain it either. And it’s pink.
Madame William M are very new and very French. They are producing very sexy (often very sheer) negligees to wear around the house, as well as extremely beautiful, extremely modest housecoats to put over the top when you get an unexpected guest and want to look respectable. As someone whose regular postman sees her in every stage from zombie in pyjamas, I am in love with this idea. As it’s high end all the inside seams are finished beautifully, even the jersey is silk, and the linings are lovely. Linings are a thing when you’re really into your clothes. . .
Sabine de Brumes is the one swimwear range that gives me the green-eyed jealousy. It is the swimwear range I wish I designed. I am seriously coveting this swimwear skirt and having to choose between the sensible black one vs. the shiny gold/bronze version is going to be traumatic. I couldn’t capture the texture/shimmer of this fabric at all, so you’ll have to find it in a shop.
Smaller busted women often get neglected in the full bust business boom, so it’s nice to see a French brand, Ysé, starting as a dedicated A-B specialist. Plus they don’t pad everything all to high heaven which I think is nice. They have some lovely continuity lines, but of course my eye was caught by their autumn special. SPARKLY!
At the other end of the scale is Pistol Panties. They’re launching a new range called BiG Guns, which is up to a GG designer swimwear. I very much appreciate the pun, and also the floral print on this one piece.
For a nicely priced, designer alternative for full busts, I tend to recommend Miss Mandalay often. For this autumn she has a lovely lace set that I keep stealing for photoshoots, so here it is on her model for the show. She also has a dark blue sling strap style with black lace which I wish I’d photographed!
Yes Master is a fun brand who’s been fooling around with prints for longer than the rest of us, and this season I noticed a knight in shining armor on their wall. Turned out to be a satin robe of theirs, which comes with a full compliment of armored-print bras, knickers, bodysuits and shorts. Awesome, but me and their sales agent would like to quibble with the people who claimed it was Game of Thrones. It’s not Game of Thrones. Get your understanding of the history of armor up to date, fashion people.
I shared a stand this year with Danielle, our corsetiere, who now also has her own range (about 200% less blue than KMD’s). As always, blinged out corsets get all the attention, but I actually love her sheer lingerie slip. It’s impossible to photograph as it’s a sheer dot mesh with lace trim, so here’s the shape and then a detail shot.
I am spending way too much time with Paolita and they are steadily converting me to mixed prints. This one piece is actually one of her more subdued designs in terms of colourways, but you can see it has plenty of intricate detail including a bejeweled belt. And I do appreciate a nice lining on swimwear, too!
La fille d’O is a brand I’ve only run across in Selfridges, where the display doesn’t do much for them. Here, on their larger-than-fashion-normal mannequins, I could really appreciate the strong lines of their designs and the contrasting colours. Obviously, I like the blue one best.
KS Paris had an awesome body suit with a heart cut outs, but were so busy I couldn’t photograph them, and I lived Dirty Pretty Things’ new hooded swimsuit (which reminded me of my Black Milk hooded bodysuit), but I imagine you’ll see that in NYC.
Lastly, every year this blog shows you things that you then can’t find in stores anywhere. Why? Well, most designers have more ideas than can ever possibly be put into production, so what you see is already an edit of what is possible. On top of that, some ideas will never sell very well and may be in there purely to grab people attention and get the press talking. Even I am guilty of this.
But we also have a big problem at the moment and that is that the sorts of stores who stock small indie brands (department stores and independent boutiques) are very risk averse at the moment because this recession is very long. So they are tending to order very conservatively (brands that get lots of press, products they have tried before, sticking to core sizes, that sort of thing), or attempting to get sale-or-return ( so the brand takes the financial risk), or dropshipping (for online stores, to avoid holding stock). All of which means that we can plan amazing ranges with more sizes and options, but if we don’t get enough wholesale orders for them, will we make them?
Kiss Me Deadly sometimes do, because some of our best things ever were styles nobody ordered…and because we have growing retail outlets of our own and ways to offset the risks. But for a small brand that’s not yet established, or doesn’t have it’s own retail? If retailers won’t order it, they’re not going to do it.
And this is perfectly reasonable. I’m going to do something no one else does and give you a (somewhat vague) idea of the figures involved for us. To bring a lingerie range in costs us significantly more than £10,000 (~$15,000). Yeah, that figure gives me heart attacks too. So there’s only so many times we can do that when no one’s made an order! If you love a range, really love it, and you want it to survive – pester retailers for it.