Ann Summers have launched their new collections for Autumn/Winter 2012 at an event in London’s Haymarket Hotel, close to Trafalgar Square. May the 17th saw a steady stream of interested parties visit the gallery-like displays in the hotel’s Shooting Gallery room, including Jacqueline, younger sister and fellow Ann Summers MD Vanessa and their father David Gold, along with members of the press and media.
Big things for AW12 at AS will be a new dual-material Rabbit called ‘The Powerful One’. Developed under the name Fusion, hinting at its vibration-carrying ABS shaft and soft silicon rabbit ears and G-spot bulge, that was dropped as it was deemed ‘too redolent of the razor of the same name’. Its USP is a sweeping, glowing line around it, bringing the Tron look to sex toys. Also coming to a ‘Summers near you soon, a small rechargeable bullet which lives in a Compact-like USB recharging case and bright candy coloured vibes in greens, blues, pinks and a very vivid yellow. Black toys are seen as a growth area by Ann Summers, with several on display. Waterproof updates of various classic toys were shown, along with We-Vibe 3 and a mini Rabbit Petite – The Little Slim One – being marketed under the banner, ‘Small Size, Big Sighs’. The Swan and Leaf ranges of rechargeable non-phallic, non-Leporid toys, which are surprisingly powerful, were complimented by an extended collection of Lelo products, including a Hitachi-like wand and a gold plated one with a hefty £10,000 price tag.
Principle toy buyer Mark Brewer and Katie Gillard, another member of Ann Summers’ toy purchasing team, took the time to chat about both the new lines and how the business was moving forward, with new-look branches and changing sales splits of products across various channels. Pink toys are still their number one seller, ETO learned. Mark said of his personal favourite from the new range, “Not to sound too corporate, but it is the new powerful one. The mix of silicon and ABS plastic is very special. It’s a first to this market. We’ve listened to our customers and know while she likes the hardness of the ABS, she loves the feel of silicon, and we’ve put both materials together to create one amazing product. You get a very powerful sensation through the shaft compared to a PVC or silicon. My other favourite is the rechargeable bullet. We’ve sold 300,000 bullets recently; probably more than the Rabbits, by volume. We’ve one speed, three speed, seven speed and the all-singing rechargeable model now. Never run out of batteries again!”
Some lingerie featured ‘buttock enhancement’ in the shape of padded areas to give that ‘bubble butt’ look. Seen in black alone, this feature was shown on both generous panties and a body-shaping corselette. Think ‘push up bra for bottoms’. Another highlight were strappy, bondage bodycon dresses with brass stud details. The lone costume seen was ‘General Tease’; a military inspired uniform. 20s-style Flapper dresses, complete with thread hems but given the 21st century twist of being translucent lace, looked Heat-friendly, if not Vogue, darling. The Fifty Shades trilogy graced a new offering of books alongside new tease products; spanking paddles, whip and flogger.
Amongst the on-trend lingerie and new toys were caricaturist Jam, who did a very good one of David Gold, plus a makeup expert and manicurist. Rebecca Dakin, author, sexpert and escort was in attendance too. Her book, The Girlfriend Experience, was included in goodie bags handed to visitors. It also featured a velvet bag of make up, a miniature Malibu and fake eye lashes – very OTM, judging by Ann Summers’ visual merchandiser. Writers for More magazine, Cosmo Online, Poppy Dinsey of style site WIWT.com, and AS Marketing Director Fiona Davis were spotted. Fiona took a moment out to tell us, “It’s certainly been another busy launch. We’ve been delighted with the reaction from all of our visitors today. We’ve had a good turnout from the press and what we’re finding is they’re recognising the transformation of the brand and the products, taking Ann Summers from strength to strength, each season. Both in terms of the apparel and lingerie, and as you’ve seen, excitingly, the toys are taking a brand new direction. My word of the day has been Innovation. My favourite? Well, I did enjoy stroking the gold Lelo vibe. It’s a wonderful, tactile shape. It’s a one off; very special. It’ll be in our Stratford branch in July, for the Olympics.”