This past week, I took my first flight in 15 years to New York City. The occasion: Curve New York, the largest lingerie and intimate apparel trade show in North America. We’ve been talking about attending since before the pandemic, but the logistics always seemed too daunting. This year, I decided that we finally needed to follow through and make it happen, whatever the challenges. I am SO glad that we did!
Curve actually happens twice per year, although the February show is more sparsely attended and usually has less brand representation. This show featured the lineups from each brand’s Spring/ Summer 2024 collection. Yes, that’s 2024… Like the rest of the fashion world, most lingerie makers follow a seasonal release cycle, and all new styles & limited edition products pre-book at least 6 months in advance. The Grail staff has to try to anticipate customer’s needs and preferences far ahead, which is always a difficult endeavor. Fortunately, events like Curve give us a lot of information on which to try to base our decisions. So, what makes the whole undertaking so valuable?
Explore Upcoming Styles from Current Brands: It’s incredibly difficult to suss out the important details of a bra from just images. Of course, everything looks great on the specifically-chosen models in catalog images, and some of our important brands, like Natori, only use line sheets with representative illustration of their products. It is so helpful to be able to see products in person! You can feel textures, see accurate colors, look at the interior construction, and get details of the fabrication that a catalog can never convey. I can test how much stretch is in the material and whether the cups are deeper or more shallow. As a bonus (which admittedly took a bit of getting used to,) most brands have fit models on hand to demo their various styles on-body. All of this is really valuable information when you’re trying to figure out how to allocate your inventory spending. Also, in addition to all the upcoming new styles and variants, I also got to check out other existing core styles from some of our vendors that I’d never seen in person before and that look very intriguing!
Discover New Brands and Products: I had a chance to review collections with a couple of brands that have been on my radar but that we don’t currently stock. I really liked what I saw, and I think we’ll be connecting again sometime after Grail moves into its new location this upcoming spring. Sometimes it’s the things you weren’t even aware of that impress you the most, however! At least one new brand absolutely blew me away, and I had never heard of them before. I love being surprised.
Networking: As an independent boutique, Grail greatly values our relationship with industry partners like the sales reps that keep us informed on product developments & manage the occasional hiccups with orders and supply logistics. Before Curve, I’d met fewer than half of our brand reps before in person. Unless they’d made a store visit or we’d Zoomed, I didn’t even have faces to put to names of people we’d effectively worked with for years. It was great meeting and discussing their lines face-to-face. In the same vein, the Grail staff has greatly benefitted from the hive mind of other independent small-business boutique owners and bra fitters that we’ve had the privilege to connect with on social media since opening in 2019. These are other shops who frequently share our same goals and challenges, and they’ve been quick to share advice, swap for missing pieces of inventory, or just to commiserate over a periodic vent session. I finally got to meet several of these folks at Curve, and it was lovely.
Adventure!: What a wild time! This was so far outside of my comfort zone, but I ended up having an amazing time. New York City feels like another universe. I was expecting basically an oversized Atlanta; it was on a whole other scale. Next time, I will bring more practical shoes and something to keep my poor thighs from chafing.
P.S. I got engaged! 😄