Where Has All the Interesting Lingerie Gone?
For the first time ever, I've found myself almost totally unexcited about the upcoming lingerie season. Part of this may be general bra fatigue (I see a lot of bras at work!) but most of it is simply the feeling I have seen all of these pieces before. While I still love lingerie and regularly find pieces I adore, the industry as a whole seems more driven by seasons and the familiar than ever before. These forces lead to seasons like the upcoming one, where trends focused around four basic colors and the same bras that were already bestsellers for the big companies, with very little innovation or new ideas thrown in.
Part of this is due to the fact that the lingerie world, like many industries, is getting smaller. Over the past few years, many larger lingerie makers have merged or been restructured as part of buyout deals. For instance, the Wacoal/Eveden merger has resulted in massive size restructuring as well as the Eveden name being dropped altogether. If you're a North American lingerie customer, this means almost any brand you buy in this region can ultimately be traced back to Wacoal America. This setup makes it even easier to coordinate "seasonal" trends and focus them around pieces that are proven sellers, rather than trying to do something new or innovative.
For the first time in years, I have trouble thinking of any innovative new bras on the horizon. While there are a few highlights, like Bravissimo's constantly creative collections or Tutti Rouge's use of custom designed prints and their new push up bra for larger cup sizes, this seems like a season of basics rather than a season of fashion lingerie.
It doesn't help that all of the new brands and news in plus size and full bust bras tends to focus around cheap diffusion lines or expansions of basic bras that have been around forever. Where does the customer who wants interesting statement lingerie go? While there are lots of brands creating great lingerie for smaller busted customers or core size customers, the rest of us are left out or forced to turn to buying custom pieces at higher prices.
As lingerie lovers, we need to band together and speak with our dollars even more during seasons this like this. If you do manage to find an amazing bra that you fall in love with, buy it! If you can, buy it full price. The reason we end up with seasons like this one all comes down to the bottom line. It's easier to sell a Freya Deco than create a new bra for a marginalized size range, so designers and corporations need to see the buyers are there and receptive to their efforts. Yes, buy a bra or two this season, but make sure it's a bra you truly love and represents something about the industry you want to endorse.
After all, you might be seeing it for the next five seasons in different colors.