ILS April 2013 Show Report
This year at the International Lingerie Show, a life-sized plush bear wearing hardcore bondage gear waved a studded leather paddle at me from René Rofé Lingerie’s booth. His oversized head bobbed as I walked towards him, and I thought to myself, “Only in Vegas.”
Running into this mascot (named Jesse) from the new Bondage Bearz line at ILS wasn’t surprising. The surprise was in learning who manufactures the line — International Intimates — the parent company to René Rofé which is known for intimate apparel.
It’s a revelation that illustrates the influence of fetish culture on brands, retailers and consumers. In boutiques across America, it’s common to see leather handcuffs displayed next to high-end silk robes in-store or in window displays. Traditional lingerie boutiques we talk to exclaim that they can’t keep pleasure product brands like LELO on the shelves.
Consumers are loving kink.
This is great news for retailers and brands. The influence and acceptance of fetish also highlights the power of a show like ILS where buyers can find sexy next to classy.
Above: the Baci Lingerie team at ILS
“The buyers at ILS range from mom-and-pop stores to some of the largest buyers in the business.” – Alicia Sinclair, Baci
The dual nature of ILS is what draws a variety of store owners and exhibitors to Las Vegas twice a year. Produced by Speciality Trade Shows, Inc., the International Lingerie Show is held at the Rio Hotel’s convention center and averages about 200+ exhibitors each edition. Buyers visit with brands in three large rooms: Pavilion, Miranda and Brasilia.
“Baci has always had a positive experience at ILS. We love every opportunity to spend time with our customers, and the Lingerie Show (and Las Vegas) is the perfect place to mix business with pleasure,” said Alicia Sinclair, Director of Sales & Operations for Baci Lingerie Worldwide. “The buyers at ILS range from mom-and-pop stores to some of the largest buyers in the business. There is also a great deal of International clients and a seemingly never-ending ability to meet new clients.”
Above: Brent and Christy of Homme Mystere which specializes in lingerie tailored for men.
To say that this show leans towards the sexier side of the industry is an understatement. There is, undeniably, a large selection of toy manufacturers exhibiting, but it’s called the International Lingerie Show for a reason. As one of the largest traditional lingerie shows in the country, ILS offers retailers a larger venue and a greater spectrum of brands — regardless of retail positioning — than most other shows.
Above: Lola by Lola Haze.
The Miranda Room showcases exhibitors you could find at Curve or Salon de Lingerie in Paris. At this edition, Lulu & Kath, Lola Haze, Dirty Dolls Lingerie, Tia Lyn and Patrice Catanzaro, for example, were lingerie trade-show veterans who also chose to showcase with ILS this year.
Lola Haze Designer and Owner Laura Mehlinger said, “Lola Haze is a New York City company, so it was great to introduce the collection to buyers from different regions and market segments. ILS is a high-spirited show, and buyers and vendors alike are engaging and do quick business.”
For Mehlinger, exhibiting at the show was a way to promote different facets of her collection. “Buyers seemed very enthusiastic about both the high-end Lola Haze collection as well as my attainably priced Lola by Lola Haze collection. They liked the sexier side of Lola and its compelling price points, and many commented that the line seemed fresh and unique.”
Above: Bracli Lingerie.
Fellow Miranda room exhibitor Bracli deserves mention for the sensual blend of lace and kink showcased at their booth. Originators of the pearl thong, Bracli presented their fetish-inspired lace cuffs, classic bras and Body Pearl thongs to visiting buyers.
Store owners looking for accessories with a hint of kink and sensuality were happy to discover Venetian eye mask maker Luna Veneziana at ILS (pictured above).
In the Pavilion Room, retailers could find the greatest variety of exhibitors — from lingerie, corsets and accessories to fetish and pleasure products. It’s the largest room in the show, housing the majority of ILS’s exhibitors.
In this room, Patrice Catanzro demonstrated how fetish and lace can come together to produce sensational results. The self-described “dream-maker of the fetish world” showed off his brand’s new lingerie collection Les P’Tites Folies, 2nd edition and new fetish offerings in Tome 10.2.
Above: the latest offerings from Patrice Catanzaro.
Les P’Tites Folies lingerie collection is delicate, feminine, erotic and powerful. The color palette is strictly black and reflects the look and feel of materials used in Catanzaro’s fetish collection.
Rounding out our Pavilion Room lingerie recommendations are Coquette, René Rofé, Dreamgirl, Eurotique, Fantasy Lingerie and Shirley of Hollywood. These brands offer a variety of lingerie, corsets, boxed intimates, costumes and accessories at very reasonable price points. They are also known for their moderate to low minimum order requirements.
Above: Coquette’s SS13 Collection on the left and their Darque collection on the right.
Coquette highlights the variety of styles found within one brand. The Canadian-based company offers a variety of traditional lingerie and corset offerings alongside more risque items from their fetish-inspired Spellbound and Darque collections.
Above: Crave’s Accessory Collection.
“The sex-toy business grosses an estimated $15 billion in annual sales” – Stefan Dallakian
Ali Cudby recently noted that lingerie retailers often struggle with the question of whether or not to introduce adult “toys” to their product mix. Some boutiques have discovered the margins on these items are hard to argue with as Stefan Dallakian, owner of Paris Intimates, an online sex toy distributor, points out: the sex-toy business grosses an estimated $15 billion in annual sales.
Despite the potential profits, some stores balk at introducing toys to their customers. Brightly colored phallus-shaped objects, they say, simply don’t match their store’s brand or clientele. Luckily, ILS provides an opportunity for retailers to explore a huge selection of toy brands ranging from the high-end to the whimsical.
Crave, Revel Body, and the official 50 shades of Grey Collection by Love Honey are toy brands we met at April’s show that, we feel, provide retailers a nice mix of competitive wholesale pricing, accessibility and aesthetics.
Above: Crave’s Duet on Display.
Crave is taking aim at the luxury toy market by offering retailers sleek, discrete and elegant pleasure products that are easy to display in store or merchandise alongside apparel and accessories.
At ILS, the brand showed off retail displays for their Duet, Solo and Wink vibrator lines. The displays’ imagery is sensual, tasteful and functional with a built-in security device that keep items securely tethered.
Above: Crave’s foreplay jewelry and promotional image of the Droplet
Crave also offers a Foreplay Jewelry line of leather tassels, leather cuffs and the Droplet — a pair of silver pendants that are actually miniature vibrators in disguise.
While some consumers wouldn’t think twice about leaving a pair of pleasure pendants on their night stand, most would never leave a vibrator out in the open. Certain shapes just give toys away.
Revel Body’s Sonic Vibrator gives retailers and consumers another option.
Above: the Revel Body Sonic Vibrator.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for the traditional lingerie shop owner to capitalize on the profits and benefits that would come from offering a small, highly curated line of personal vibrators,” – Linda Cox, Revel Body
Designed to be both ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing, the Revel is round — roughly the size of a tennis ball — and fits in the palm of your hand. The shape, colors and texture gives the toy a very modern and sleek feel.
Linda Cox, chief marketing officer at Revel suggests that the non-sexual appearance of the Revel makes it the perfect pleasure product to introduce into a boutique’s inventory.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for the traditional lingerie shop owner to capitalize on the profits and benefits that would come from offering a small, highly curated line of personal vibrators,” said Cox. “The Revel Body sonic vibrator and others like it have an inviting aesthetic that invites one to touch and explore without feeling awkward. I would have the vibrators near the fitting room where it would easy and natural to casually launch a conversation. A secondary display near the cashier would drive home the earlier suggestion.”
Above: the official Fifty Shades of Grey Pleasure Collection Beginner’s Bondage Kit
Other retailers have found leaving a whip or pair of handcuffs out in the open works just as well — as long as the Fifty Shades of Grey logo is emblazoned on the items.
The popular erotic series is, arguably, the biggest influence in all things kink right now. At ILS, retailers were able to see the Fifty Shades of Grey Official Pleasure Collection of toys and bondage items. The collection was developed by adult retailer and manufacturer Lovehoney in association with the trilogy’s author E L James.
“This is an incredible opportunity for retailers to really make the most of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon,” said Lovehoney partner Dean Elliott. “The Fifty Shades of Grey Official Pleasure Collection is the only range that allows stores to feature the iconic branding seen by tens of millions of American women. It’s the biggest brand our industry has ever seen.”
Above: The Dirty Dolls Team.
“We loved ILS, we had a great time and made some fabulous new contacts. Buyers reacted really well to our collection and they all seem really excited to see what we’re going to do next! The show was definitely profitable for us.” – Courtney L. Newman, Dirty Dolls Lingerie
As happens every spring, The Brasilia room housed the Las Vegas Halloween Show, which runs concurrently with the spring edition of ILS and offers buyers a showcase for costumes and Halloween products. While we don’t cover to many costumes here on the Lingerie Journal, we wanted to mention R.H. Smith and Sons’ great collection of body stockings from their Fever Collection.
Above: the Lulu & Kath team
April’s show proved to be one of ILS’s most successful with many brands noting that foot traffic was good and buyers receptive to new orders. The Fashion Show was also a success and showcased over 200 looks from exhibitors.
“ILS was fabulous for us in many ways. The environment was so fun and friendly. We met so many unique and wonderful people. And, the buyers seemed genuinely excited to see new products,” said Laura Wright, designer and founder of Lulu & Kath. “We had so much traffic through our booth that we are already planning on getting a bigger booth next time.”
If you didn’t get a chance to visit, don’t worry, we’ve uploaded over 100 images we took at the show. The next edition of ILS runs from September 23 – 25, 2013 at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. At this coming edition, ILS hosts the AVN Show in the Brasilia room. To learn more, please visit: www.lvlingerieshow.com.
Want to Exhibit?
Please contact the ILS team at (305) 663-6635 or firstname.lastname@example.org