The Las Vegas International Lingerie Show: The Lingerie Industry's "Other" Tradeshow
The Las Vegas International Lingerie Show is a bit of an odd beast. Despite the word "international" in the name, it's primarily a tradeshow for all the inexpensive, sexy brands based out of Southern California, names like Leg Avenue, Seven 'til Midnight, iCollection and Coquette.
For years now, ILS has been trying to brand itself as an alternative to Curve, the boutique-oriented, luxury lingerie tradeshow I attend in New York every season. Yet despite their best efforts, there's very little overlap between the two shows. Lingerie brands and shop owners that go to ILS rarely attend Curve, and buyers at Curve rarely go to ILS. A big part of this is because of the price and status gap between brands that show at Curve and brands that show at ILS.
Curve is perceived as the more fashion-forward show, where companies like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and Journelle choose their stock, often from more expensive brands like Simone Perele, Chantelle, and La Perla. Meanwhile, the International Lingerie Show is where stores like Frederick's of Hollywood, Trashy, and Yandy shop.
Everything, from the branding of lookbooks to the presentation of merchandise, is completely different at the two shows. Booths at ILS tend to emphasize their sheer volume of product, cheaply priced (I have brand catalogs from the show with literally hundreds of pages in them). Exhibitors at Curve seem to focus more on the limited edition or high quality nature of their products; especially for fashion lines.
After taking a bit of break from the International Lingerie Show, I made the decision to attend for the first time in several years. Living in Southern California means Las Vegas is just a short road trip away, and Nick and I decided to take advantage of the proximity (and the weather!) to spend a long weekend on The Strip.
My first impression of the show is that it seems a lot smaller than it used to be. While dozens of brands attend, only a handful really "matter" in terms of big names that drive most of this sector's revenue. To be fair, that's true on the more expensive side of the industry as well. It often feels like the entire U.S. lingerie market could be more or less summarized with 12 brands, at least in terms of sales volume.
It's also interesting to see the price/quality equation in real time. Many of the brands on the show floor were remarkable only in how cheap their products were. I saw thongs wholesaling for under a buck, corsets that primarily resembled tin cans, and harnesses that looked like they might fall to pieces if I breathed on them too hard. If ILS is wondering why they're having trouble attracting more and better brands, one need only take a look at some of the dreck on the show floor.
That said, there were still some definite highlights from this show. Pampour Lingerie, a new luxury brand working in silk and lace, has some truly decadent pieces coming out this winter (alas, they seemed woefully out of place at ILS). Glamory Hosiery, a European stockings brand specializing in plus sizes, is another company to watch; I believe they have the potential to completely dominate their sector (plus size luxury hosiery) within the next few years. The brand Ajour was another interesting discovery (though, again, out of place), while Fantasy Lingerie and Paramour showed several noteworthy styles.
Mostly though, I found myself feeling underwhelmed. While I did appreciate getting more perspective on another side of the lingerie industry, massive volumes of cheap product just isn't where my interest lies, either personally or professionally. I saw everything worth seeing in less than a day, and I have a feeling this will be my last ILS for a good, long time...if not forever.
Do you have any thoughts about the brands in this roundup? And have you ever purchased from any of the names shown here?