Lingerie Trends for A/W 2016 (and a Few Thoughts on the Lingerie Industry)

Maison Lejaby new design

Maison Lejaby

It’s been a month or since this season’s CurveNY, and I’ve honestly been struggling with if I should even write a trend report this year. Last season, I mentioned how the New York tradeshow isn’t really the place to see what’s new and exciting in the lingerie world. Yes, it is definitely the place to get a sneak peek at what’s coming up in stores and boutiques (which is still important, useful info), but the truth is the most editorial lingerie labels, the brands that invent the concepts we’ll see at Curve 3 or 5 or 10 years from now, simply don’t attend tradeshows.

Instead, what I’d like to talk about before the very brief paragraph on trends at the bottom of this post is what I’m tentatively calling a “hollowing-out” of the lingerie industry (i.e. fewer and fewer brands taking up more and more market share). Mass market and affordable labels command a growing percentage of the intimate apparel market (think companies like Hanes, H&M, Target, Forever21, ASOS, and Aerie). Similarly, the high-end luxury lingerie sector is doing quite well (large companies like Agent Provocateur and La Perla come to mind, but smaller labels like Fleur du Mal, Chromat, and Lonely are also making great strides). Yet there’s very little of the market left to claim between those two extremes unless a brand chooses to be highly specialized (such as Nubian Skin).



Of course, it goes without saying that there are a lot of a mid-market brands in between the budget or luxury sectors (by “mid-market,” I’m referring to a Natori or Wacoal price point), but the issue here is that this segment is absolutely dominated by large companies like Natori, Wacoal, Komar, and Victoria’s Secret.  That leaves thousands upon thousands of ultra-tiny brands competing for an infinitesimally small piece of the intimate apparel market. If this was a pie chart, as few as 15 labels would take up over 80% of the graph. Everything – from the U.S. obsession with t-shirt bras to the comparatively small size ranges of the largest bra companies – becomes clear within that context. There’s simply not enough competition, not enough major players, to drive meaningful change.

Obviously, no discussion about the American lingerie market can happen without discussing Victoria’s Secret, and much of what I’m seeing in the industry can be attributed to what I call the “Victoria’s Secret Effect.” If you’re outside the United States, it’s hard to convey just how dominant this one company is in the American lingerie market. As of this writing, Victoria’s Secret commands over 60% of the U.S. intimate apparel market share. For an entire generation and for hundreds of millions of Americans, they’ve set the standard on what a bra should be – how much it should cost, how it should be made, how long it should last, what sizes it should come in, and where you should be able to buy one.

Furthermore, after years of pinning their hopes on the dream that one day VS would suddenly implode, an entire industry is now having to acknowledge that the way customers buy lingerie has changed…and there’s no going back. Customers expect the stores they buy from to have a robust digital presence, to offer free shipping and returns, to stock a nearly limitless size range, and to have a consistent customer service experience (preferably one where the customer is always right). Boutiques that’ve been slow to establish themselves online or to offer value beyond “free bra fittings” are the ones suffering the most, and many likely won’t survive the dramatic upheavals that are changing the industry (including, I believe, the ascent of Amazon as a key market player).

There’s a silver lining to all this doom and gloom, however, and that’s the rise of a more conscious consumer. Customers are increasingly aware of the relationship between price and quality, and of the fact that rock-bottom prices often mean deplorable working conditions. Many brands have also begun to be more transparent about the realities of design and manufacturing, and the limitations of expanding size ranges and styles in a conservative, price-conscious market. These conversations are just the beginning of that trend, but I believe they’ll continue. The future of lingerie (and fashion in general), will be less about cheap, disposable goods and more about garments that are well-made for a fair price.

Now on to the trends!

Key colors for A/W 2016 are grey and burgundy (with a bit indigo and bright white as well), while a major fabric trend for next season is jacquard (along with the reappearance of embroidery). Many brands are playing with sporty, athleisure-inspired details such as high-necked bras and bralettes with wide underbust bands. This more casual influence is also seen in the rise (or re-rise) of loungewear.

Bodysuits are also a major trend item for this upcoming season, with many designed to showoff as garments in their own right not just to wear as layering pieces. Some brands are also tentatively attempting size expansions again, though with less publicity and fanfare than previous seasons given the temerity of the market. Finally, there are a couple of notable newcomers to the luxury lingerie space, including Celeste and Loveday London.

What are your thoughts on the state of the intimate apparel industry and these trends? I know I spent very little time actually talking about trends (there’s photos below, of course) but the story at Curve was so straightforward this season that focusing elsewhere seemed appropriate. I’d love to hear what you think about the future of the lingerie industry.

amandev

Amandev – Loungewear, Gray

Zhilyova

Zhilyova – High Neck/Halterneck Details

valery

Valery – Bodysuits

underprotection

Underprotection – Loungewear

relique

Relique – Bodysuits

red fern mastectomy lingerie

Red Fern Lingerie – Mastectomy

oh la la cheri

Oh la la Cheri – Bodysuits

maison du soir 2

Maison du Soir – Loungewear

jaclyn bennett lingerie

Jacalyn Bennett Lingerie – Loungewear

ivette bridal

Ivette Bridal – Embroidery

Else Lingerie

Else Lingerie – Gray

Loveday London 2

Loveday London

KissKill 3

KissKill Lingerie

KissKill 1

KissKill Lingerie – Athleisure-inspired details

Simone Perele 3

Simone Perele

Simone Perele 1

Simone Perele – Embroidery

Triumph 3

Triumph Lingerie – Gray

Claudette

Claudette Lingerie – Gray

Christine Lingerie 1

Christine Lingerie – Loungewear, Indigo

Va Bien 3

Va Bien

Va Bien

Va Bien

Mimi Holliday 3

Mimi Holliday

Mimi Holliday 1

Mimi Holliday

Addiction

Addiction Lingerie – Athleisure-inspired details

Rosy

Rosy Lingerie – White

Celeste 2

Celeste – Loungewear

elila printed lace new

Elila

Maison Lejaby 5

Maison Lejaby

Maison Lejaby 3

Maison Lejaby

harlow and fox jacquard

Harlow & Fox – Jacquard

derek rose london

Derek Rose London – Loungewear

freya

Freya – Embroidery

empreinte

Empreinte – Bodysuits

dear bowie 3

Dear Bowie – Gray, Loungewear

dear bowie 2

Dear Bowie – Burgundy, Loungwear

belabumbum

Belabumbum – Maternity

 

 

 


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Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in a small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, it's become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and has been featured on the websites for Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

11 Comments on this post

  1. […] you may have guessed, lingerie market is an incredibly busy time of year. Between attending Curve (the major lingerie tradeshow), visiting ateliers, and going to all the meetups (such as the one […]

  2. Krissi R says:

    Thanks for sharing more than just colors and cuts- the industry realities are intertwined with the aesthetics. I see the same things as well, and hope the growing knowledge and awareness of the consumer will eventually lead to smarter buying choices that will balance these trends.

  3. Lynn Harstad says:

    I love lingerie, stumbled upon your blog on Pinterest. I know nothing about the business end, I can’t see, but I love beautiful fabric, color and design. Interesting article, thanks fir educating me about the business end.

  4. Barry Posner says:

    I am a amale who wears lingerie daily In the past I probably averaged purchasing ten to fifteen pairs of panties per month and was very excited about each purchase As the years have gone on I am buying less and less I am finding the selection boring—heidi klum is a redo of Elle McP and Stella hasnt had fun fabrics for three or four years–Fluer of England has become a redo of the same with different colors The list goes on and on Jounelle was my go to outlet for many years but seems its become just la agent and klum with a smatering of Underprotection and Fortnight (my current fav) There were some really nice pieces that you showed in this blog and will look forward to them when they arrive in the stores

    • katie says:

      I think there are two factors here (there certainly are in my personal case).

      1. Bigger companies are playing it safer.
      2. The more ‘in’ to lingerie you get, the more particular and demanding you get. I generally buy a couple of sets from a brand and then wait for them to do something different and exciting…. and wait…. and wait. I am happy to spend within my budget (which does limit me to mid range) but it really does need to seduce me.

  5. Maison Lejaby and Simone Perele are my favourites! Too bad the series I love so much are not made for a G+ cup. I’ve also seen the embroidered set by Simone Perele with a touch of a magenta colour and I loved it even more! <3

  6. Melissa says:

    I wish I can buy everything but I really love the Empreinte bodysuit. So pretty! I love your blog Cora :)

  7. Abelardo Garcia says:

    Congratulatoons from Madrid, Spain

  8. lia says:

    I’m glad you ended up writing this out! It seems like it did end up being a trend report after all, just more focused on the business aspect of it instead of solely on colors and patterns. It’s exciting to see previews of what’s to come, but I really appreciate how you take the time to evaluate the situation as a whole.

    • Cora says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Sometimes, I worry I’m a little too into the industry side of the things right now (as opposed to the fashion side of it), but I really see them both as intertwined. The compression of the intimate apparel market and the drive towards ever-lower prices (which is also related to the move to overseas manufacturing) has had a profound effect on what consumers have access to. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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