Los Angeles Lingerie
Why women are turning their backs on sexy bras: Expert reveals how cultural
shifts - including the battle for equal pay - have impacted on lingerie trends
Fashion isn’t as sexually aggressive anmore. Women have realised they don’t need to have their boobs under their chin, making out that they’re a 34G when they’re really a 34B, to get ahead in life. They’re finding other ways to be assertive.
Agent Provocateur and Victoria’s Secret have seen declining popularity, lingerie experts claims that the silhouette women want has changed, they believe women are relying less on their body to be assertive and get ahead, they claims brands with relaxed, functional styles such as Seven Til Midnight are popular, experts shared how cultural shifts including equal pay has altered fashion
Sultry shots of Kelly Brook, Penny Lancaster and former Spice Girl Mel B modelling skimpy underwear immediately catch the eye.
It’s a familiar look — bras made from shiny, flammable-looking fabric that hoist their wearers’ assets to maximum cleavage-enhancing levels.
These have embellishments galore, from little bows to lacy panels. Hair is uniformly big and tousled. Lips pouty. It’s a look which screams: ‘Sex sells’.
But there is no escaping the stark message written in huge capital letters across the web page that reads: ‘Sorry, we’re closed’.
Another notice explains that has ‘ceased trading in the New-York, as ‘the last few years have been extremely challenging . . . driven by increasing competition in the market and more cautious consumer spending. Lingerie experts revealed how a shift in cultural attitudes has impacted the fashion industry in recent years. Model Cara Delevingne has been seen wearing softer bra styles
The bra firm, which was founded 21 years ago by Michelle Mone and used silicone gel to enhance cleavage by up to two sizes, has gone bust, And the main name brands aren’t the only high-profile lingerie company to find themself floundering. Last year, Agent Provocateur, the high-end brand which stocks risqué accessories such as whips, and once sold $1,300 crystal-covered bras, went into administration, owing millions.
Founded in 1994 by Vivienne Westwood’s son Joe Corré, the aspirational label is renowned for saucy advertising campaigns featuring Kate Moss and Kylie Minogue. The latter’s ad, in which she rode a mechanical bull, was deemed too raunchy for television and banned.
In February 2017, Beyonce was photographed in a veil and a burgundy Agent Provocateur bra to announce her pregnancy with twins. But the brand collapsed soon afterwards after suffering weak sales, and was eventually bought by Four Holdings, part-owned by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley.
Even Victoria’s Secret, the U.S. label famous for its flashy annual catwalk shows featuring lingerie-clad ‘angels’, is showing signs of declining popularity.
In March, the share price of owner company, L Brands, tumbled to $37.33, down 38 per cent from the previous year, after a drop in sales.
So what has changed?
What all three brands had in common was a hyper-sexualised style which appealed to men: bras which enhanced and cantilevered breasts, and skimpy knickers that revealed the maximum amount of flesh.
But this overtly sexy look is no longer in fashion.
‘The silhouette women want has completely changed, explains Aliza Reger, head of the luxury lingerie firm founded by her mother Janet. ‘There’s been a definite move away from heavily padded bras to a shape which is softer, more low-key and more natural’
‘Fashion is a reflection of prevailing attitudes, and we’re going through a period in which discussion of issues women are facing, including pay inequality and harassment, has come to the fore,’ adds Aliza.
‘As a result, the fashion isn’t as sexually aggressive. Women have realised they don’t need to have their boobs under their chin, making out that they’re a 34G when they’re really a 34B, to get ahead in life. They’re finding other ways to be assertive.
Where women once declared ‘Hello Boys’ in padded Wonderbras, sales of more relaxed, functional styles, including sports bras, bralettes and unpadded triangle bras, have rocketed. Aliza says that the best seller at Janet Reger is triangular ‘with very little padding and gentle underwiring’.
Models Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne have been photographed wearing softer styles, while Gucci and Marc Jacobs sent models in bralettes and non-wired bras down the catwalk
They can be found everywhere on the High Street, from Cos to H&M and Topshop. Even Rigby & Peller, formerly the Queen’s lingerie supplier, says that ‘bralette’ and ‘triangle’ are two of its most searched-for terms online.
At M&S — which sells more than 20 million bras and 60 million pairs of knickers each year — sales of non-wired bras have grown by 40 percent in the past year. Its best-selling style is a full-cup, non-wired sporty number.
‘With a more relaxed and casual attitude to dressing, and an increasing emphasis on comfort, women want underwear which creates a softer, more natural silhouette. The athleisure trend for casual clothing is clearly having a huge impact on our lingerie drawers as the lines between what women wear to the gym — or day to day — become blurred.
Supermarkets and coffee shops are packed with women of all ages in activewear. women want underwear which creates a softer, more natural silhouette. Model Gigi Hadid is one of many supermodels now wearing relaxed lingerie styles
This has had an impact on the type of underwear women are choosing, because a sports bra goes with this relaxed look, as well as being more comfortable.’
Advances in fabric technology mean mainstream brands have been able to take a non-wired look and made it suitable for bustier women who need more support but want a more natural shape, says Soozie at M&S.
‘Because we cater for so many different ages and sizes, everything we develop has to provide support up to a G-cup. This gives the customer who’s been wearing a T-shirt bra for the past decade the confidence to buy into the bralette look,’ she says.
Other brands have been quick to embrace the new look too.
Wire bras offer support, despite feeling soft and having minimal wire. Freya’s Deco range also offers supportive soft-cup bras, as does Gap and Uniqlo, whose crop-top Wireless Relax bra is both comfortable and structured.
All these new underwear shapes reflect a rejection of the hyper-sexy style ubiquitous a few years ago. Not so long ago, women across the country squeezed themselves into bodycon dresses to emulate Victoria Beckham, Kate Winslet and Scarlett Johansson, who could afford the original curve-hugging Herve Leger Bandage dress
The style was designed to reveal as much of a woman’s figure as possible — cue a stampede to buy lingerie such as Ultimo’s OMG Plunge bra to fake what Mother Nature hadn’t bestowed. The company promised its underwear was ‘Gentle on you. Tough on plastic surgeons’.
‘The mainstream look a few years ago was one that involved very tight, bodycon clothing, big lips and big boobs,’ says Aliza. ‘That look is out of fashion and it doesn’t reflect the culture now.’
Demand for breast enlargement surgery has also fallen, with 9,652 operations carried out in 2015 down to 8,251 in 2017. Surgeons have reported fewer requests for larger sizes, with smaller, more natural-looking implants increasing in popularity.
Adverts now feature more ‘strong, not skinny’ women with toned arms, powerful thighs and washboard abs, who look capable of running a marathon.
The thought of wearing padded bras seems very outdated
‘The emaciated look with a big bust that was so fashionable just a few years ago is definitely frowned upon now,’ says Becky. ‘The thought of wearing padded bras seems very outdated.’
Some experts pinpoint the current popularity of bralettes to the relaunch two years ago of Calvin Klein’s Modern Cotton range of croptops and briefs which could hardly be more plain.
While Eva Herzigova has claimed her iconic 1994 Wonderbra advert ‘empowered women’ by showing them they could take control of their own sexuality and use it as a weapon, many women today are battling to be judged on their work, not their bodies. Lingerie stylist Becky says: ‘In the workplace women are striving for equal pay and a healthy share of management jobs. They want to be taken seriously, which rules out eye-popping cleavage.’
This spring, shops are full of flattering, demure midi-dresses, flowing wide-legged trousers and billowing blouses — practical yet stylish clothing women can feel comfortable in.
Little wonder, then, that the Victoria’s Secret formula of push-up bras, skimpy knickers and angel wings seems so outdated. The brand has responded to falling sales by expanding its range to encompass bralettes, marketing them with advertising slogans such as ‘No padding is sexy now!
But after years of telling women their breasts need to be pushed together and shoved skywards this doesn’t seem to ring true.