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Knock-offs: Is Copying Designer Lingerie Ever Okay?

Left: Playful Promises ‘Etti’ Longline Bra via ASOS. Originally $78.93.
Right: Frederick’s of Hollywood ‘Sandra’ Longline Bra. Originally $34.00.

Has there ever been a more controversial subject in the fashion industry than this one? No matter your opinion on knock-offs, cheap copies of luxury goods are here to stay. After all, if there’s a market for people who want expensive items for lower prices (and there definitely is), there’s going to be a company that’s willing to cater to that market.

Some of these knock-offs are outright counterfeits and forgeries (i.e. they’re being advertised and sold as the authentic item) but many more of these knock-offs are “inspired by” replicas…where enough of the original design has been kept to make it recognizable, but not so much that legal action is justified or even possible. And it’s that second kind of knock-off that’s becoming more and more popular, even within the lingerie industry.

I know a lot of brands and designers read The Lingerie Addict, so I just want to acknowledge that I understand this post will probably ruffle some feathers (and doubtless bring me a few “You should never have written this!” e-mails). But the conversation on knock-offs (and if they’re ever justified) is already happening among lingerie consumers. Even if the subject is a little awkward to talk about, it’s one that very much needs to be discussed out in the open.

3 of these 6 photos are stolen. Another is a stock image.

Earlier, I made a distinction between outright forgeries and ‘inspired-by’ knock-offs and I just want to be clear that I am definitely not in favor of counterfeit goods. Counterfeits are always wrong, and there is nothing excusable about one brand stealing the images, copy, and marketing materials of another brand in order pass their merchandise off as someone else’s. However, that particular issue is not what this article is about. Instead, I want to focus on two somewhat grayer areas of knockoffs…prices and sizes.

Price Knockoffs:

Left: Marika Vera ‘Nydia’ Bodysuit. Originally $520.00.
Right: Ann Summers ‘Peony’ Bodysuit. Originally £40.00 ($62.00)

Make no mistake: quality lingerie is expensive, both in terms of materials (silk, lace, chiffon,satin, etc.) and in terms of labor. It takes a lot of time and effort to construct a bra, and if you’re one of the dozens of independent designers making pieces by hand or in small factory batches, you simply don’t have the volume to get the lower manufacturing costs a larger brand can. And in the same way a global intimates empire will pass their cost savings on to customers in the form of lower prices, smaller brands have to pass along their higher costs in the form of increased prices. Factor in the increased costs of things like fair trade and ethical production (which are important to many smaller brands, but which many large brands don’t care about), and you’re looking at an even greater price differential.

But, on the other side, it’s true that many women simply can’t afford luxury lingerie. It’s not about what they’d “rather” buy; it’s just not an option. In this era of depressed wages, uncertain job markets, and ever-increasing costs for basic necessities, I don’t blame women for thinking twice before dropping 3 figures on a bra and panty set. And while it would be great if we could all fill our closets with handmade, ethically-produced items, those goods do cost more…and that money may just not be available if you’re on a tight budget.

Finally (and I won’t name any names here) not every luxury brand is worth the luxury price. Whether it’s skimping on quality materials or quietly moving manufacturing to cheaper sites overseas (while retaining the same high prices), sometimes a luxury brand is just a lot of hype…smoke and mirrors produced by an excellent PR team, a beautifully lit photoshoot, and some fancy decorations in a boutique.

Size Knockoffs:

Left: Kriss Soonik ‘Susan Chic’ Body. Originally €159.00 ($212.00). Available up to size US10.
Right: Empress Lingerie Ruffle Lace Romper. Price Unknown. Featured in Plus Model Mag.

No big secret here: the average size range of any one lingerie brand is pretty limited. Whether a brand chooses to focus on standard sizes, full bust sizes, or plus sizes, there is no single lingerie brand out there making everything for every woman of every size. However, it’s also true that women who fit into the traditionally standard size range (approximately US bra sizes 32-36 B-D and US dress sizes 0-10) have many more options available to them than women outside that range. As a size 10, I’m at the outer limits of the standard sizing chart, but I can still assume the average brand fits me. When it doesn’t, it’s an exception…not the rule. For many women though, especially plus size women, the search for pretty underthings is a long, unpleasant, and completely demoralizing experience.

The size thing becomes even more interesting when you realize there’s a link between how expensive a brand is and how many women their size range encompasses. It’s been my experience that more expensive brands have smaller size ranges. Right now, I’m thinking of several high-end European names that I’ve personally tried (no names) which max out at a US size 6/8. That is a super narrow size range, and it excludes a lot of women. Unsurprisingly, women who wear double digit dress sizes want beautiful lingerie too, and so lately several plus size companies have stepped in with larger size knock-offs of popular styles.

There are a lot of good reasons for why a brand can’t abruptly expand their size range. As I mentioned earlier, all brands, even plus size brands, specialize. That’s because the costs of trying to be all things to all people would rapidly drive a company out of business (especially an independent company). It’s also true that making plus size lingerie isn’t just a matter of taking a standard size pattern and enlarging it, but requires a complete redrafting…particularly in the case of complex, supportive undergarments like bras. All of that costs money, and if a company isn’t absolutely sure they’ll recoup the costs, they may decide to focus on what they’re good at…and what they know will make them money.

That said, plus size women shouldn’t have to wear ugly underwear because no one’s making their size. I feel really fortunate that I can buy most of what I like, but if I were to go up a size (which is very likely to happen at some point), I suddenly wouldn’t be able to buy most of what’s out there. And I don’t really want to go back to buying my panties in a 6-pack. Why shouldn’t larger women have pretty undergarments too? Especially if their needs aren’t being met by standard size brands?

The Discussion:

Left: Marlies Dekkers ‘Dame de Paris’ Bra via ASOS. Originally $126.29. Available up to size 40DD.
Right: Cacique by Lane Bryant Strappy Plunge Bra. Originally $40.00. Available up to size 44DDD.

In both of these cases, companies are either unable or unwilling to accommodate all the budgets and sizes of everyone that may be interested in their products. That’s not a fault-finding statement…it just makes sense from both a production/materials/labor perspective and a branding/marketing/advertising one. It’s easier to make and sell a product targeted to a particular group of people than a product targeted to everyone.

So the question becomes…if you have a group of women who’s needs aren’t being met by what’s out there (either because of price or because of size), is it okay for them to buy similar pieces at a lower price point or in extended sizes from other brands?

Most designers and boutiques say “No,” and understandably so. They argue that it devalues the brand, and penalizes small designers for being creative and risk-taking while big brands reap all the rewards of that free market research. But many customers, also understandably, disagree. “If I’m never going to buy from you because you’re not making products for me,” they say, “you haven’t lost any money when I buy from someone else. The sale was never going to be yours.” Some people also argue that knock-offs are advantageous to the industry as they constantly generate new ideas, but the counterargument to that is that small brands will get frustrated and quit (or be outright driven out of business) if their work is always being knocked-off.

As a blogger, I see both sides. Professionally, I spend a lot of time talking to and working with independent designers (many of whom are 1 or 2 woman operations), and it stings when you see all their hard work being stolen with just the slightest reworking. It’s heartbreaking because you know these designers will never be able to sell as cheaply or offer as many sizes as a department store, and they’re being punished for it. And it can very well drive a brand out of business.

However, as a lingerie consumer (and someone who’s always been a little bigger through the hips and a little smaller through the wallet), I understand what it’s like to have to balance fashion with finance. If you know a certain brand is never going to make anything in a size 14 or in a G cup or for under $200, why not take your money elsewhere? Isn’t that how business works?

What do you think, dear readers? Are knock-offs ever okay? Should brands that can’t meet everyone’s needs ‘suck it up’ as the cost of doing business? Or should customers who are left out in the cold just ‘deal with it?’ And how similar or different can something be before it’s not considered a knock-off anymore? I’m really interested in hearing what you have to say in the comments.

Last Chance to Enter Our Angela Friedman Silk Slip Giveaway!

In case you missed last week’s Valentine’s Day giveaway post, here’s a super quick reminder. And today’s the last day, so you definitely want to go ahead and get those entries in!

You have the chance to win a handmade, 100% silk slip from the NYC indie lingerie label Angela Friedman. Valued at $215.00 (no, that’s not a typo) this slip won’t even be officially released until later on this year…which means you’ll be the very first person to own one!

All entries must go through our official entry form on the original giveaway blog post to be counted. You’ll also find the rest of our giveaway details there.

Good luck and thanks for reading The Lingerie Addict!

Lingerie of the Week: Zinke Rosalie Robe

Zinke ‘Rosalie’ Lace Robe. Photo via Forty Winks.

Yup, it’s a Zinke kind of day. When I reviewed the Zinke Intimates lace romper one of my chief complaints was that the lace, while gorgeous, had no stretch, give, or flexibility. Those qualities aren’t good for an item that fits close to the body (like a bra, panty, or bodysuit), but they are doable for an item that’s a bit looser…like a robe.

I really like Zinke’s trademark lace in black, and I love how the eyelash trim which decorates the decolletage on the romper is used here as edging on the sleeves and hem. This robe is sweet, pretty, romantic, and wearable. The only downside? The $294 price tag. But if your budget allows, this is a beautiful piece.

The Zinke Rosalie Robe is available from Forty Winks.

Review: Zinke Intimates Lace Jumper

Photo via Zinke Intimates

Disclaimer: The lingerie in this review was provided by Zinke Intimates. All opinions are my own.

Today’s lingerie review is a bit unusual. I actually received this piece a year and a half ago, but chose not to publish a post about it at that time. However while moving, I rediscovered this romper, gave it another try, and decided it’d be a great piece to talk about on the blog.

Zinke Intimates has been around since 2009, but they’ve only really taken off in the last year or so. With Anthropologie, ASOS, Nordstrom, BHLDN, ShopBop and Free People among their stockists, Zinke has the kind of national profile most indie brands dream of. While the brand started with lingerie, they recently debuted a swimwear collection as well, and I have a feeling that’s going to pass their intimates line in terms of reach and visibility very soon.

Current romper colorways. Photos via Zinke Intimates.

The lace jumpers are one of Zinke Intimate’s most popular items, and I would even say they’ve become something of a trademark. The jumper is simply constructed with an open back, halter tie at the neck, and brief bottom. The lace is a cotton/nylon blend, and the romper itself contains no lining at all, not even on the gusset. The romper also contains no internal supports, such as cups or seaming for the breasts. I received the color “Sugar” (or ivory, shown below) in size Large.

Photo via Zinke Intimates

I looked up my notes on the Zinke jumper from 2011, and many of my observations are still the same. The lace is gorgeous. I love the uncomplicated, unfussy structure of the piece. The little peeks of skin though the material are lovely, and I could easily see this item working as outerwear with the addition of some skintone adhesive nipple covers (in fact, one of our recent guest columnists, Chai, is wearing a Zinke romper in her photo).

Yet all that wasn’t enough to make me review the piece when I first got it. Because I couldn’t fit into it. And that brings me to my biggest concern with the garment…it has no ‘give’ whatsoever.

Me in the Zinke Intimates Romper

As pretty as the nylon/cotton lace blend is, it has no stretch, no elasticity, and no flexibility. There’s one band of elastic around the top of the panty at the back (I suppose to keep it snug to the body), but for the most part, you either fit the piece exactly, or you don’t fit it at all. And considering that my dress size (which is a US 10) hasn’t changed in the last couple of years, that means it only takes a small change in your body to significantly affect the fit of the garment. Put simply, I’d be reluctant to buy a piece which couldn’t even accommodate a tiny weight and shape fluctuation…especially since those fluctuations are a common experience for so many women. And I would definitely say I’m at the absolute upper limits of the size chart for Zinke.

Top and bottom details of the Zinke Intimates romper

Because my bust is significantly smaller than my hips, I also felt like there were some fit issues on top. I do like the simple structure of the romper, but the downside of that is there’s not much room for adjustment. The halter top felt very loose and ‘slippery’ on me and even small movements resulted in some major exposed nipples. Finally, and this just may be a personal preference, I really didn’t like the absence of a lined gusset. Exposed seams in that area just make a piece feel unfinished to me.

Overall, I would say I like this item, but with reservations. It’s a beautiful alternative to some of the more fancier, more frou-frou lines out there, but it’s really important to make sure you fit the given measurements for your size exactly before ordering. Otherwise, the Zinke Intimates romper just won’t be as flattering as it could be…if it fits at all.

Have you tried one of these lace rompers before? What did you think? I’d love to hear some other perspectives in the comments.

Naughty Bits: Lingerie News from Around the Web-11/13/11

Did you run across any interesting lingerie news this week? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Photo Credit: Top image from The Lake & Stars new campaign via Scallywag and Vagabond.

Start Your Day Off Right with Day of the Week Knickers!

By Holly:

When I first started buying lingerie, I bought only matching sets. It was one of the only rules I had when shopping, as it seemed like a waste to me to have bras and knickers that didn’t match.

Fast-forward to this month when due to my work schedule, basic things like showers and regular laundry sessions seemed like luxury activities. Last week, I even announced that I had done dishes like it was some kind of Olympic achievement. Suddenly, I understood that having a wide variety of knicker options (and a large collection of clean ones) is a valuable thing.

It wasn’t until I started researching that I realized that non-matching knickers open up a whole new world of lingerie for full-busted women. I had written off a lot of designers since they didn’t make bras in my size (which is terribly unfair), without realizing that they made gorgeous knickers that would fit me perfectly.

I don’t know if I’m nearing a quarter life crisis or what, but I found myself really attracted to day of the week knicker sets that some designers are putting out. I never had day of the week panties as a child, but as an adult the idea appeals to me. I was thrilled to discover there are designers making gorgeous day of the week sets for us grownups now!

This Stella McCartney set was the first one I ran across, and it may still be my favorite. The knickers are made of a pink silk blend and embroidered with the days of the week and intricate floral patterns. If all this wasn’t enough, check out the packaging! I love the set of drawers they come in, and can think of all kinds of uses for them. They’d also make an amazing gift for someone.

Smartee Pants (sold via Austique) is making this more casual set. I’m addicted to jewel tone lingerie, and this set has some amazing colors in it. As a bonus, they include a “Happy Day” pair so you don’t have to explain why you’re wearing your Tuesday knickers on Sunday to someone.

I’ve been coveting pieces from Mary Green’s lingerie line forever, and I’m even more of a fan now that I’ve seen this day of the week knicker set from her. I think of her as using only silk but this set is made of cotton/spandex, and I suspect it would be incredibly comfortable. It also comes with some inspired packaging that turns it into a great gift set. These knickers seem like a great compromise between feminine details and every day comfort.

For the really adventurous among us, these Milli stretch lace thongs may be the perfect way to count the days of the week. I’ve been hearing about the wonders of stretch lace lingerie for a awhile now, and this set is ultra-sexy.

Etsy is becoming a showcase for some stunning new lingerie designers, and Alicia Rose is my latest discovery. Alicia specializes in knickers that are embroidered and then hand-painted with her original illustrations. Her day of the week knicker set is truly a work of art.

Do you have day of the week knickers that you love? Does it bother you if you wear the wrong day?

Weekly Lingerie Sales – 10/1/11

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

  • Free shipping on any order at Bare Necessities thru Oct. 3rd w/ code weshipfree
  • 20% off all What Katie Did corsets at If You Please [Editor’s Note: As of November 2014, this site appears to be defunct] for the month of October
  • 20% off all Ritratti products at Bella Bella Boutique Oct. 3rd thru Oct. 10th w/ code Ritratti
  • 20% off everything at Baby Girl Boutique thru Oct. 2nd w/ code sale20
  • Free UK delivery and half-price worldwide shipping at StockingsHQ thru Oct. 3rd.
Know a sale that should be included in the weekly list? Send it to
Photo Credit: Babygirl Boutique

Sponsored Post: Why I Shop at Bare Necessities

Note: This post is a sponsored post on behalf of Bare Necessities. All words written here are my own.
I’ve talked a lot about the particular piece of lingerie that inspired me to start a lingerie blog (they were the Falke Peacock Welt Stockings, by the way), but I haven’t talked very much about the store I first saw those stockings in. That store, of course, was Bare Necessities.
I don’t remember how I first learned about Bare Necessities, but I do remember (and this was before I started blogging) being completely overwhelmed by their selection. I’d only thought about bras, panties, and hosiery as purely functional items…they were there to do a job and that’s it. To see all these pretty, lacy underpinnings? Well, it literally opened up a whole new world for me.
Better still, Bare Necessities made me feel like it was okay to experiment. This was a time when I didn’t know my bra size. I didn’t know my knickers size. I didn’t know which styles of lingerie fit and flattered my body. And, as a graduate student, I really didn’t feel comfortable going into my local lingerie boutique (I lived in the Atlanta area at the time) as I knew everything there would be completely out of my price range. I can’t tell you how many items I bought, tried on (sanitarily, of course), and returned…all without any fuss or pushback from Bare Necessities.
I placed my very first Bare Necessities order on January 31, 2008. Since then, I’ve bought my very first pair of Wolford tights from them. I’ve bought my very first La Perla bra from them. And I’ve bought my very first Le Mystere bra from them. They are still the place I go to for everyday basics from Hanky Panky, Cosabella, and DKNY (I actually just placed another order there last night!). You can’t keep a customer for nearly four years unless you’re doing something right.
Yes, Bare Necessities carries over 200 sizes. Yes, they can cover you if you wear a bra size 32A through 56M. Yes, they make an annual donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. But at the end of the day, that isn’t why I shop there. I shop there because I know it’ll always be an easy…no, effortless experience. And I know it’ll be the same for you too.
Have you shopped at Bare Necessities before? What do you think of them?
Photo Credits: Top photo of the La Perla ‘Villa Toscana’ bra and panty set…the latest addition to the lust list.

Fortnight Lingerie S/S 2012 Collection

Founded only in January 2010, Canadian brand Fortnight Lingerie is perhaps most famous for being featured in last year’s ‘Super Sexy CPR‘ viral video. But if next season’s collection is any indication, Fortnight is about to be known for a whole lot more.

Sweet, seductive, and deceptively simple, Fortnight’s clean lines and sumptuous fabrics embody today’s trends in fashionable lingerie. Best of all, Fortnight manufactures sizes 30A-38E. This is definitely my kind of sexy.

The ‘Lola’ lingerie set and ‘Mary Jane’ bodysuit have me absolutely smitten. Which piece is your favorite?

I’ve Always Said I Have the Sexiest Readers Ever…

But just in case you need a little more convincing, check out The Lingerie Addict Fan Album on my Facebook page. It’s a place just for TLA readers to strut their supersexy stuff.

Want to be featured? Simply send your photos to And don’t forget to show some like and comment love to the wonderful ladies featured in this album while you’re there. As the saying goes, the more the merrier!