Polka dot prints from Poland and simulation city pinstripes from Portugal were among the novelty fabric designs which made their debut at the summer 2004 Intimate London lingerie and beachwear fair.

Polka dot prints from Poland and simulation city pinstripes from Portugal were among the novelty fabric designs which made their debut at the summer 2004 Intimate London lingerie and beachwear fair.

Intimate London is of increasing interest to the international as well as the UK buyer, and either directly, or through their UK agents, most of the globally distributed major names in this field now take part in the show.

Sloggi for instance didn't wait until Lyon in September to launch its first ever beachwear collection, but introduced the range which comprises 40 "mix and match" beachwear items in London.

Similarly, the celebrity endorsed J-Lo swimwear range has already made its London debut with a reception for top UK buyers preceding its appearance on the Quinota Ltd stand at Olympia.

Typical of the international brand name exhibitors who now consider a presence at the London show essential is Paris-based Manual Canovas, which now distributes to more than 30 countries around the world.

La Perla

The collection it brought to London concentrated on novelty prints with marine motifs, such as scallop shells and lobsters.

Tropical foliage
Tropical foliage, flowers and butterflies are more typical of the summer 2005 trend as Brazilian influences move the European market toward ever brighter colour, particularly in prints.

And a greater number of manufacturers actually based in Brazil now find it worth their while to come to Europe for the major trade fairs including Intimate.

As well their uninhibited use of colour most Brazilian designed swimsuits also come elaborately trimmed. For the more conservative UK market however the shell necklaces and the chains which adorn bikini bottoms are often offered as detachable accessories giving the consumer a choice of functional or fancy swimwear.

This is the approach adopted by Maji, a Brazilian manufacturer which is now being widely distributed in the UK by Mercotrade.

Brazilian beachwear is already a big hit in the USA where Chicaboom claims to be selling seven million swimsuits a season.

While in its homeland Brazilian beachwear gets ever briefer, in the UK generally there seems to be a move back to the one piece.

Gideon Oberson, however, seems to have discovered a new erotic zone for seashore wear with its tabard-like cover-ups which are open sided and designed to be worn with nothing beneath.

Swathed and draped effects
In the swimwear collection itself, swathed and draped effects combine with buckle fastened decorative strapping. In the UK Gideon Oberson lines are handled as part of the Seaspray UK Ltd range which also comprises DKNY swimwear.

Demi

Draped and swathed effects in swimwear are being strongly promoted by Cosabella in a range where bikini tops are made of soft fabric designed to be tied into place at the back - a feature which enables the wearer to customise her costume by developing different styles of tying.

Metallic fastenings, used as a decorative feature were also a focal point of the Diva collection from Israel, where there was also emphasis on tropical foliage and butterfly printed fabrics. In single colour suits Diva presented ruched and bubble textured fabrics in a vivid orange.

Portuguese manufacturer Emar, which carries most of its most fashionable styles in fittings up to an E cup, made news at Intimate with a series of metallic printed fabrics designed to offer a trompe l'oeil version of the chain mail garments for which the couturier Paco Rabanne was celebrated in the l960s.

Broad bands of red white and blue, apparently pinned together with metal rivets brought a new look to classic one piece swimsuits at Seaspray. While Tweka, which claims to be beachwear designers for the entire family, introduced jazzy, multi-coloured geometric patterns for men, women and the tots to teens age group.

Tweka also introduced special styling to flatter the "longer torso" wearer and has added a special collection suitable for cruisewear to its standard ranges.

The company also points out that chlorine resistant treatments are standard for all the fabrics selected for its swimwear.

Sales success
In lingerie, too, getting the choice of fabric topically right is seen as the key to sales success.

Banana Moon

At the top end of the market for instance, the latest Nina Ricci ranges stress that the fabrics employed are hand cut from pure silk jacquards or genuine Calais-made Leavers lace. And the lavish use of satin ribbon and tulle emphasises the essentially feminine appeal of an obviously luxury range.

Similarly at Jane Woolrich Designs, luxury lingerie fabric set the mood of the collection which is apparently selling well into the Middle Eastern and North American export markets. Glossy satins in sophisticated pastel shades are generously trimmed with ecru lace.

Retro styling focuses on bias cut slips and night dress/negligee sets with skirts that finish in handkerchief points.

As well as swimwear, Brazilian designed lines now available to London - and international buyers - include the Poliana De Freitas collection, a key feature of which are bra slips which could equally well be sold as dresses. These striking garments are executed in deep relief guipure lace and have scalloped hems.

In underwear targeted to the mass market, seamless construction continues to make progress worldwide. Companies previously concerned with sports/street casual wear but now staking a claim to be equally successful in the expensive swimwear and lingerie trade are the UK's Joe Bloggs.

By Sonia Roberts.