UK Lingerie Awards Recap and Winners
by Cheryl Warner, www.investinyourchest.co.uk
Lingerie Insight, the UK-based magazine and web site for the British lingerie, nightwear and swimwear community’ hosted the UK Lingerie Awards last week in a swanky London hotel One Mayfair. The awards show – dubbed ‘The Oscars of the British lingerie industry’ was located just around the corner from Selfridges and Bond Street in central London, it was a 5 star glamorous event with champagne on tap, a slap up three course meal dinner and an impressive celebrity turnout. I was lucky enough to get my hands on this hot ticket, which was a huge honor to be amongst some of the big wigs of the intimate apparel industry in a venue which held only 250 guests.
The awards show celebrated the achievements of brands and retailers within the intimate apparel industry from all over the world – with big British names such as Rigby and Peller and Eveden’s Freya up for awards as well as promising newbies Curvy Kate and Nicole Gill, a new designer who graduated from De Montfort University’s acclaimed Fashion and Contour design course in 2009.
Luxury brand Lascivious, winners of the ‘Directional Brand of the Year’ was a win which I particularly identified with. They’ve called themselves ‘the first and last word in experimental and indulgent directional lingerie’ and this award proves that they are right. A home-grown talent and relatively young company, it was great to see such exposure and recognition for a smaller designer brand which has gone from strength to strength since it started in 2004 when Creative Director Chloe Hamblen sold sets from her bedroom. The brand states on their website: ‘Lascivious is proud to be a British brand that continues to support the UK manufacturing industry, designing & producing all our beautiful lingerie ethically in this country.’
Curvy Kate took home the much-coveted ‘Full Bust Brand of the Year’ award. Nominated in an impressive three categories, the brand proudly accepted the award which celebrates exactly what the brand does – lingerie for the fuller bust. A lively table of ten, the Curvy Kate team were out in full force at the awards show, with Managing Director Steve Hudson, Distribution Manager Seema Patel and Marketing Manager Hannah Houston amongst the group. As such a new brand – only created a few short years ago – to win an award hosted by a national publication with competition from so many lingerie giants, we can expect to see great things from Curvy Kate in the future.
Curvy Kate Marketing Manager Hannah Houston was delighted with the result:
‘We were all thrilled to win the Fuller Bust Brand of the year. The last two years has been like a roller coaster and time has really flown. We’ve loved every second though and it’s so exciting to know that we are already regarded in such a positive light. It’s great that the public put us forward for the award too as they are the most important judges to us. If we’re still making them happy, then we’ll continue to make D plus lingerie. We’re really passionate about what we do and to even be nominated for this award, with such prestigious brands in the category, was exciting enough. To win is another thing altogether but we won’t stop here. We want to keep building the brand and giving our customers even more pretty, glamorous lingerie to dress those killer curves in.’
Figleaves.com won the ‘Online Retailer of the Year’ award, an accolade which reflects their great range of sizes, products, brands and brilliant customer service. In my experience with the online retailer their products have been top quality, with lots of choice from regular favourites such as Pour Moi, Freya and Panache on sale – they also stock premium brands such as Fauve, Mimi Holiday, Chantelle and Lejaby. Their site is easy to navigate, with regular sales and discount codes and a bra size range from 28-52 and cup sizes A-K and an outstanding customer service aftercare, Figleaves make a worthy winner.
June Kenton from Rigby and Peller was a member of the judging panel and was also awarded the honor of a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award for her dedicated and influential contribution to the intimate apparel industry for the past 50 years. The British institution Rigby and Peller also achieved the ‘Independent Retailer of the Year’ award pipping Bravissimo and high street giants La Senza to the post.
I caught up with the lovely Andrew Martyniuk (AM), Sales Manager of Lingerie Insight to get the gossip and the down-low of the first ever UK Lingerie Awards. Lingerie Insight was only founded two years ago so it is unbelievable that they were able to gain such a fantastic reputation and put on an event of this calibre in its first few years. Congratulations to them, but what was it like behind the scenes?
CW: How did you enjoy your night? Were you stressed/nervous or were you able to enjoy yourself after months of planning and organization?
AM: Naturally being the first UK Lingerie Awards I was just a little bit nervous and stressed. I knew all of the hard work that had gone in behind the scenes by our team so deep down I knew that everything was going to be great. I enjoyed the whole experience so much and I am still buzzing from the actual night.
CW: Were you happy with how the night went? Was there anything you would have changed or anything you would have liked to have been different?
AM: The first year was perfect. Everything seemed to work. The stunning venue One Mayfair, the food, the timing of production and the entertainment. All the feedback has been outstanding so for the first year it was spot on. We are only just getting started so everyone should already be getting tremendously excited about what we have planned for next year.
CW: Were you pleased with the outcome and results of the winners?
AM: I think that the results had a great mix of different brands and retailers. So all of the brands who made it as finalists considering the amounts of companies nominated should be extremely pleased. I am sure it will be even more competitive year by year.
CW: How have the awards raised awareness of the brands involved and Lingerie Insight itself?
AM: The awards have raised awareness for the brands yes! Every finalist has had the chance to speak to the press now about their achievement and also are able to use finalist/ winners logo’s on all of their press and marketing. There was such a great mix of people in the room and brands have already told me they have set up meetings with buyers from top stores which is even more pleasing to hear. For Lingerie Insight the profile has been growing rapidly in its first year anyway but the awards were more for the brands and raising the profiles of companies in the UK market.
CW: What do you think is the main purpose of the awards?
AM: The main purpose was to identify that there are some amazing brands in the UK Marketing that deserve recognition and that awareness. So it was a surprise to find out that there were no such awards so ITP Promedia put in the hard work to make this a reality. Our greatest hope is that sales increase for the finalists and winners of the awards, because they deserve to. They have proven themselves to the best in the market over the past year. Until now, consumers have not known which brands are the best, so they have not tended to take risks by buying new products. We think that will now change in the UK.
CW: Can you tell me about the reaction in the press/blogs/news/from companies/readers?
AM: There was some initial cynicism about how quickly we launched the awards, and whether we could pull it off, but the momentum built quickly, and convinced us that the market really wanted to see it succeed. Since the awards, there has been incredible feedback. Those that doubted it could be done were the first to call and congratulate us on doing such an amazing job. The celebs helped as this gave great exposure in the consumer press for them entering and leaving the awards. There has also been outstanding coverage from blogs and the coverage that the awards have gained in such a short period of time has been unbelievable so very pleasing. Also the brands response from all the brands has been so positive. Various companies have said it is the no1 industry event they have ever been to. So it is now are job to keep this going every year and to also make it bigger and better each year to keep the wow factor.
CW: What was your event highlight?
AM: Well there would be more than one highlight really…. if I was to pick one though it would be the response from everyone who attended – brand representatives, press, bloggers and celebrities. Whether people were winners or finalists or just attending the event everyone went away genuinely from a fantastic night.
CW: A fantastic night it certainly was.
The 20 award winners are as follows:
Independent Directional Brand of the Year Winners: Lascivious
Independent Retailer of the Year Winners: Rigby & Peller
Bridal Brand of the Year Winners: Myla
Best Marketing Campaign Winners: La Senza’s ‘Cup Size Choir’
Ethical Brand of the Year Winners: Sweetling Lingerie
Hosiery Brand of the Year Winners: Wolford Tights
Full Bust Brand of the Year Winners: Curvy Kate
Shapewear Brand of the Year Winners: Made by Niki
Lingerie Brand of the Year Winners: La Perla
Men’s Brand of the Year Winners: Calvin Klein
Multiple Retailer of the Year Winners: Agent Provocateur
Most Innovative Brand of the Year Winners: Atsuko Kudo
Maternity Brand of the Year Winners: Cake Lingerie
Post-Surgery Brand of the Year Winners: Jamu Australia
New Designer of the Year Winners: Obey My Demand
Sports Bra Brand of the Year Winners: Shock Absorber
Swimwear brand of the Year Winners: Maryan Mehlhorn
Online Retailer of the Year Winners: Figleaves
Department Store of the Year Winners: Selfridges
A enormous congratulations to Lingerie Insight for putting on such a 5 star event and thanks to Andrew for taking the time to complete this interview. For more information about the event check out http://www.uklingerieawards.com/ or the brilliant http://www.lingerieinsight.com/. Follow the magazine on Twitter @lingerieinsight for the latest updates from them.