Why Is This Lingerie Lace Everywhere?
I was working as a sales associate at Journelle when I first saw this lace. It was used for the super popular Natalia group, a private label bodysuit and bralette set that were as sexy as they were wearable. At the time, I thought nothing of it, other than noting how many of the popular ouvert knickers I sold every shift.
But shortly after I left my retail job, I started seeing this lace everywhere.
The lace was used in indie designer bras and cheap fast fashion sets alike. Some of my lingerie industry consulting clients brought in swatches, proclaiming how they were going to use it in their first collections. The lace even made it onto the cover of The Lingerie Addict’s book, “In Intimate Detail”, with an illustration inspired by a Topshop set.
I know what you're thinking: "So who was copying who?" But this isn't a matter of knock-offs. Most lingerie brands can't afford to design their own proprietary lace, and our planet doesn't have infinite textile mills. That means different labels will often end up using the same items from the same factories, unbeknownst to each other.
Plus, it can take years for a product to get from the designers' minds to a retail store, so multiple brands may work with the same materials at the same time without even knowing it. In fact, lingerie brands at different price points use the same materials all the time. We just don't notice, because the materials aren't this memorable.
But this isn’t the only time a distinctive material has been spotted across multiple brands. A few years back, this colorful embroidered mesh fabric was absolutely everywhere. It was just abstract enough to keep it from being too directional, and it capitalized on both the embroidered mesh trend and the botanical trends of the time.
The leaf-y, branch-y, almost-abstract take on a classic floral embroidery felt fresh and new… for a while. Now, if you search “embroidered floral bra” on Etsy, you’ll find it on every page.
Like that embroidered mesh, this lace seems to be on its way out. Even Journelle has started using a slightly different lace for its Natalia group. But why does this happen? Why do we see these highly distinctive fabrics and trims all over the place?
Trends and Fads
This is the most obvious reason: You’ll often see the same fabric or trim over and over, simply because it fits into what’s trending at the time. And this lace is definitely on-trend.
The desire for lingerie that feels less overtly girly makes this type of lace naturally popular. Rather than being frilly, floral, or frou-frou, it’s relatively gender neutral. The simple fan motif is distinctly less feminine than the floral-patterned, eyelash-edged laces that are often used for lingerie, and you'll see fan-inspired lace around a lot this season, from Hanky Panky to Eberjey.
So this lace is in line with the sleeker trends moving through the lingerie market, while still allowing designers to utilize the ease and flexible fit qualities of stretch lace. But this is more than just a general trend. This exact lace can be seen all over the place. What else helps make it so ubiquitous?
Ease of Access and Use
From middlemen and trim factories to Etsy and Aliexpress, you can find this lace everywhere. I wasn’t able to find an “official” original source for this design, but it’s available from dozens of lace and trim manufacturers and wholesalers. It's not exclusive to anyone, and that means big labels and indie designers alike can access it.
On top of that, the lace is about 9” wide, so it can be used for a ton of different garments in many sizes. As we learned in an older article, if a lace is too narrow, a designer may not be able to use it for larger cup sizes. A 9" lace is a nice size for experimenting and using in a wide variety of applications.
But it's not like lace of this width is rare at any price point, so there has to be something else driving its popularity, right?
Price to Perceived Quality Ratio
In other words, this lace is cheap, but it doesn't feel cheap.
It’s soft and has a good amount of stretch, but is sturdy enough to not feel flimsy on the body. It doesn’t feel stiff, scratchy, or too thin. The pattern is delicate and compact, full of tiny details that look thoughtful rather than thrown together. It certainly wouldn't trick any lingerie experts into thinking it's a luxury trim. However, to most people, it feels much more expensive than it actually is.
And boy, is it not expensive. Various Aliexpress sellers offer it for around $1 per meter, so you can imagine how much cheaper it would be to purchase a roll at wholesale cost.
I hope this little peek behind the scenes of the lingerie industry helped answer some of your questions about materials. And maybe disproved some beliefs you've had about copying! It's easy to accuse a brand of knocking off another label, but as with all things, the reality of the situation is a bit more complex (and, usually, not so malicious). Next time you recognize a lace, fabric, or trim on a bodysuit or a pair of knickers, you'll have a little insider knowledge as to why.