We’ve come a long way from the crushed ribs and fainting spells of our corset wearing ancestors but even the modern day woman is no stranger to red marks and restriction, or heaven forbid a bit of fall out! So you’re forgiven if you’ve swapped your constraining fully padded, push up bra for something even your mother approves of.
What’s more, you are not alone. November 8th this year marked the 23rd year of the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show, but instead of the usual hype, there has been a general sense of awkwardness around the whole thing. [pullquote]The company has seen a decrease in its profits and last year with 4.98 people tuning into the show- 25% less than the year before, it has reached its lowest ever viewer numbers.[/pullquote]
As model Elsa Hosk parades another million-dollar diamond encrusted fantasy bra down the runway, it does beg the question, what has changed since 1995? Whilst Miss America is removing the swimsuit category from their competition and Rihanna’s SavagexFENTY show is broadcasting diversity over perversity, Victoria’s Secret seem to be stuck in a time warp where stick thin, six pack angels reign. In response to this marketing officer of L Brands (the parent company of Victoria’s Secret), Ed Razek said in an interview with Vogue “Everybody keeps talking about Rihanna’s show. If we had done Rihanna’s show, we would be accused of pandering without question.” Market trends suggest though that recent society shifts are rendering the ‘sexy’ lingerie outdated. Does this mean that Victoria’s Secret need to pull their stockings up and start sculpting a new silhouette?
Throughout its history, Victoria’s Secret has been known for selling more than just underwear. The goal of the Victoria’s Secret brand is also to create a definition of sexy and sell their products as part of this lifestyle. Whilst it is still the number one underwear brand in the US, it is losing millennial customers to a new ideal of comfort and acceptance. After all these years, is such a social shift possible? I’m sure Bridget Jones would be pleased to know if she no longer needs to decide between the thong and the granny pants.
Yet, as Leisurée (you guessed it; leisure + lingerie) brands such as LIVELY emerge, it does seem that consumers are now being offered a choice. Their website claims “LIVELY is inspired by what we believe makes women sexy today; smart, healthy, active and outgoing. We are delivering bras and undies that blur the aesthetic lines of lingerie, active, and swim, taking the best elements of high-style and comfort from each category.” Women are voting with their wallets and the success of companies such as LIVELY is clear in the sales figures- they are reported to be outperforming their sister company J. Crew. Moreover, recent market research from the NPD group also shows that women are prioritising comfort in their underwear choices.
The beauty of this new movement is that consumers no longer have to make the decision between comfort and style, as lingerie is taking on a less restrictive form. This brings rise to innovations such as the bralette. This is the unwired, more laid-back cousin of the conventional bra. They often come in sizes XS- XL instead of the standard system and go without a clasp for added comfort. Whilst are best suited for the less busty among us, advances have been made into offering support for the bosomly bestowed.
As with past developments in underwear trends, steps towards liberating and comfortable choices can only be applauded. Here’s to hoping that our lifetime sees the invention of a stylish anti-gravity bra, then the weight of the issue truly will be lifted off our shoulders.