“In every era, lingerie changes to support the fashionable figure of that day,” writes author Cora Harrington in her book “In Intimate Detail.” In this age of diversity, the lingerie industry has certainly witnessed a sea of change over the past few years and is expected to hit $325 billion by 2025, according to a report on Edited.com. From flattering silhouettes with comfort to a greater emphasis placed on breaking barriers with inclusivity and sustainable materials.
Following this, we will uncover the current state of the lucrative lingerie market, its opportunities and how to reach the demands of consumers.
Comfort Is the New Sexy
The comfortable lingerie revolution has been prevalent for a number of years now, as the definition of sexy has shifted to what makes the woman feel good, rather than how she is perceived from the (often male) gaze of others. This trend now seeps from every crevice of the fashion market — especially as coronavirus lockdown orders resulted in a mass reassessment of what we wear, as we seek out comfort while being at home.
Subsequently, current lingerie trends center around softer form product lines which flatter the natural silhouette of the female body in lieu of wired, padded undergarments. “Women want comfortable, and unrestrictive lingerie built for all women; which doesn’t compromise aesthetic or even eroticism,” says Lovehoney’s head of lingerie design, Heather Mercer. “Traditionally, women had two options when it came to lingerie. Comfort pieces that were often frumpy and outdated in design, and then, sexier styles bought to please someone else. For too long, women have been encouraged to wear lingerie within these two spheres. As the conversation around female empowerment has grown, lingerie designers such as ourselves have used their creative control to fill the gap between frumpy and sexy. They started to create pieces for the everyday woman which really celebrate the female body and don’t fit into either of these traditional spheres.”
We’ve all heard the reports surrounding the pandemic-induced sex boom. Not only has sexual activity increased, but so has the quality — backed up by the 54 percent of Americans who reported becoming more sexually adventurous in a recently commissioned Lovehoney lockdown sex survey. Car sex, roleplay and sex games were just some of the activities that participants highlighted, with many also reaching for fetish lingerie to up the kink.
One explanation for this is that with all of this extra time couples have spent together, deeper connections have been built, paving the way for intimacy outside of typical comfort zones and extra levels of creativity.
For many, female empowerment is all about choice and being free to live your life as you choose. So multitudes of people are still buying sexy lingerie which they hope will turn on their partner.
Erotic Lingerie Hits the Mainstream
As sexy lingerie and more erotic styles have risen in popularity over the years, mainstream retailers have fully embraced them. From PVC styles dotted across popular fashion brands to crotchless panties at Walmart — erotic lingerie has officially hit the mainstream, with new players joining this space every day.
A positive for this powerful presence of sexy lingerie is that a halo effect is being created. It can serve great introduction for people into the category, who may not have necessarily considered investing in their sex lives before. This can lead to an increased appetite for more “out there” styles, as well as purchasing sex toys.
The lingerie fashion industry was once associated with long-limbed models, but has the tide turned for good? In Vogue’s January 2021 issue, the article titled “New Year, New World” featured “plus-size” model Paloma Elsesser on the cover looking both parts sensual and confident. In the previous month’s issue, British singer Harry Styles was featured on the cover modeling a glamorous dress. This “New World” being referred to is the evolution towards the beginning of a journey towards celebrating human diversity at a broader level.
Parallel to this, various lingerie brands have undergone a noticeable shift in the last five years in terms of their attitude towards diversity, cultivating a more welcoming approach to bodies of varying shapes and sizes. From the iconic Savage X Fenty shows taking representation to magnificent levels, to the ongoing messages of body-positivity seen from other brands in the industry through their imagery and campaigns.
A recent survey of 5,000 people by Lovehoney revealed that two-thirds of women feel more body confident than they did five years ago. More than half of women (54 percent) said the thought of seeing body diversity in fashion campaigns made them feel better about themselves.
As with most categories, sustainability and ethical materials will remain pivotal with the mounting pressure from younger audiences, who are typically more vocal about these issues. For lingerie brands, strides have been made. Innovations from bamboo fabrics, plant-based natural dyes and lingerie incorporating ocean waste materials are all visible in today’s market.
This spring Lovehoney will introduce a lingerie in collaboration with a company that removes waste plastic from our oceans, such as fishing nets, then repurposes them into sexy stockings — literally fishnets from fishnets!
It would seem that the lingerie space is almost as varied as women themselves. People choose what they wear based on their daily routines, but a key element for their choices is how it illuminates their body-confidence and well-being.
While outdated notions still exist around lingerie, the definition of sexy has definitely evolved and attitudes in the lingerie industry are changing fast. Women feel more represented now than they did five years ago through brand messages of self-love and models that speak directly to them. It’s forecasted that this trend will grow, and for good reason.