Lingerie and Intimate Apparel Trends for Spring/Summer 2018
A funny thing about looking back at some of my work from last year is having a new understanding of just how unfocused I was on pretty much everything except book writing (and moving). Usually, TLA does a big, comprehensive trend preview full of photos that goes up a couple of months after Curve. But last year? Well, apparently I forgot my camera? And I didn’t meet with as many brands as I thought? And I can hardly remember anything from the show? Fortunately, I do have some notes.
The more-is-more trend of the late 80s and early 90s, which we’ve already seen from indie designers in the form ultra high-cut briefs and, even more recently, shoulder-padded lingerie jackets from luxe labels like Fleur du Mal, are now appearing, in somewhat more muted tones, from mainstream brands. Think bright swatches of watercolor-y pastels, Lisa Frank-esque rainbow hues and unicorns, and bright neon geometric patterns that look like something straight out of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Saved By the Bell.
It’s interesting take on retro, especially because retro is most often associated with the silhouettes of the 1950s (nipped waists, corsets, girdles, etc.). However, for a generation of now-adult lingerie consumers, the 80s are vintage, and it’s interesting to see that aesthetic have a resurrection.
That said, we all know what came next in the mid-90s was minimalism, and that’s making a comeback as well. The ubiquitous Calvin Klein style bralettes, with their broad, sporty underbust bands, are one expression of that trend. But we’re seeing minimalism in a few other places as well, with several brands producing styles that feature no lace, bows, or other embellishments (though embroidery is definitely a major trend of the season, as you’ll see below).
As far as the color palette, soft tones reminiscent of sunrises and sunsets dominated the scene. Think amethyst, burnt orange, cornflower, and lilac, along with other Spring/Summer popular shades like mint, blush, and, of course, the ubiquitous floral prints. Florals for Spring/Summer are undeniably romantic, with a painterly, nostalgic feel that’s contrasts sharply with the bold, baroque floral prints of Autumn/Winter.
In terms of overall, big picture industry trends, Victoria’s Secret made headlines earlier this year with reports that the company saw declining sales for every month of 2017. I believe we’re going to see increased fragmentation of the lingerie industry as this once-dominant company slowly loses market share to Aerie and other upstarts with marketing campaigns that better connect to millennial consumers (Victoria Secret’s origin story – a man started a lingerie store because he was embarrassed to shop for his wife – feels dated and tired now).
In addition, Agent Provocateur’s bankruptcy has created a gap in the luxury market, and it’s anyone’s game. I’ve heard the Australian label Honey Birdette floated as one potential replacement. However, UK company Myla is also trying for a comeback, and French brands like Maison Lejaby, Empreinte, and Aubade are becoming more forceful in their courting of American customers. One non-entity, however, is La Perla. Their current Creative Director appears more concerned with dressing celebrities on the red carpet than designing lingerie at this time.
Like the bondage trend, bralettes have been assimilated into ongoing, permanent collections. They’re no longer a “trend” so much as an item everyone carries now. While a new industry-wide trend hasn’t yet been declared, I have a feeling it’s going to be unlined bras. I’m seeing more of them in the market, and I get the sense customers are more open to them now, the way having been paved by the light and flimy structure of bralettes. Customers who want that lightness but need more support will gravitate towards unlined underwired styles.
Apart from a few notable exceptions (like Elomi’s game-changing collection), this wasn’t an especially exciting or challenging season overall. But that’s okay. Not every season can change the world. Curve is happening again at the end of this month, and Autumn/Winter collections tend to be stronger than Spring/Summer, so I’m interested in seeing what’s next. I’ll also, thankfully, be in a much better frame of mind!
What do you think of the pieces below? Any brands or items standing out to you?