Like most sartorial art forms, lingerie has a rich history, traced back to the 1700s. In the early noughties Victoria’s Secret became the cultural pinnacle of underwear: sexy, candy-coloured, and occasionally embellished with studs of glitter. Now, the era of the VS angel may be nearing its end. The reigning leader of the underwear world has faced criticism for elevating Eurocentric beauty archetypes and dismissing a range of body types. These objections come as the world is experiencing a shift in both beauty standards and market expectations, as a recent report outlines. Now, there are a whole new set of considerations when it comes to creating lingerie for the 21st century shopper shaking up the intimate ecosystem: be it body-positivity movements inciting a demand for plus-size wear, seeking sustainability over fast-fashion or calls for more gender-neutral lingerie.
With this in mind, a cluster of new brands (“the anti-Victoria’s Secrets”, as penned by The Wall Street Journal) have flourished, redefining and revolutionising what women wear everyday. Bras are now largely wireless; thongs and T-shirt bandeaus come in a range of flesh-colours for every skin tone. The transformation of underwear companies signifies a move away from the male gaze, focusing instead on what women desire and need from their lingerie. These are just some of the brands doing just that.
The vision of Womanhood is multifaceted: empowerment through representation, authenticity and inclusivity. Featuring an array of brands, the e-tailer presents bodysuits, cotton briefs, sustainable and minimalist garments. Their bestsellers include soft lace bralettes with no wiring (a nod to shoppers prioritising comfort above all else). 60 percent of women surveyed by womanhood said that lockdown changed the way they buy lingerie: luckily, comfort can go hand-in-hand with beautiful design.
Founded by London College of Fashion graduates, sustainability is at the heart of Crease’s sensual creations. The studio’s eco-pledge is embedded in everything they do, from the fabrics utilised to their working practices and the ultimate circulation of their garments. Their designs are playful and romantic, think gauzy peach- and silver-coloured fabrics and scalloped finishings.
You’ll likely have come across cult favourite Fruity Booty during an Instagram scroll. For a pop of culture fix, look to their ‘peaches n cream’ set: a psychedelic print in sunset shades. The brand’s garments are sustainable and ethically made, with most being created in a small village near Porto, Portugal, by a group of skilled artisans.
No underwire, no padding, no bullshit. This is the thrust of Danish intimates brand Moon and Junes. The brand is age and size inclusive, with their ‘for you, by you’ ethos running through their design and developmental processes. Each collection incorporates customer visions (which they gather via social media), and is later trialled with over 50 people in order to perfect their formula. Their latest offering? A line of blue marbled swimwear, perfectly timed for that long-awaited holiday (good things come to those who wait).
Miss Crofton is a South East London-based brand, specialising in distinctly girly lingerie, with an in-house team hand-crafting every piece of each collection. Their creations have a Victoriana edge, with soft white ruffled panties, vintage silk knickers, and an abundance of frill finishings. Divine.
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