NEW YORK — Oddly enough, the word “sexy” wasn’t used often at the CurveNY intimate apparel trade show, which took place this week at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
Instead, brands and buyers kept referring to comfort, body acceptance, solutions and value.
“We have a tag line that says ‘I’m not beautiful like her, I’m beautiful like me,’” said Rachael McCrary, who recently launched Jewel Toned, a shapewear line that targets a younger customer.
McCrary, who calls her brand a mix between American Apparel and Wolford, sells her shapewear in floral packaging with matching hair ties. At CurveNY, McCrary said she was mostly happy with the foot traffic and had written orders. Jewel Toned showcased brightly colored full slips, half slips, bralettes, underwear and bodysuits with light to medium control that range from size 0 to size 18 and retail from $12 to $59.
According to Jessica Pfister, the vice president of Le Mystere, bodysuits, which were trending at the show, have transformed from a novelty piece to a foundational item.
“They are a mainstay and they do impressive business,” said Pfister. “Businesses are embracing the bodysuit.”
Le Mystere debuted its Comfort Chic collection, a T-shirt bra and balconette bra covered in heather modal fabric that touched on the ath-leisure trend, and an expanded Sport collection that now includes a midimpact unlined bra and a light impact, wire-free bra. Both styles feature moisture-wicking fabric. They also showed a new convertible bra that can be worn nine different ways.
Curvy Couture, which can be added to the growing list of brands at CurveNY that cater to fuller cups – British brands Tutti Rouge, Curvy Kate and Gossard were also at the show – is pushing an ath-leisure look with its new, lightweight spacer bra covered in marled fabric. The brand is extending its capsule collection with Vivica Fox with new styles including a rose-printed corset and a matching robe.
Elila, another brand that caters to extended cup sizes, introduced prints this season with a pinstripe and printed lace bra and underwear set. Another new item was its cut and sew sports bra with underwire (previous styles were wireless with a soft cups). “Now I can feel comfortable going up to a K cup,” said founder Ellen Jacobson.
Robin Horman, owner of LiliBea’s, an intimate apparel shop in West Reading, Pa., felt the brands weren’t showing enough color.
“I love color and I feel like that has taken a back seat this season,” said Horman. She brought on two new brands: Miss Mandalay, a British brand offering lingerie and swimwear for larger cup sizes, and Cache Coeur, a maternity line.
Holly Powell, owner of The Pencil Test, an intimate apparel boutique in Portland, Ore., was looking for pieces that cater to larger cup sizes and noticed more fashion-forward options. Powell wrote orders at Gossard. She also observed more bralettes for larger cup sizes, but had no interest in shapewear.
“We don’t carry shapewear for feminist reasons,” said Powell. “We want to celebrate the body.”
Jonathan Murphy, an account executive at Hanro, said that lounge pieces that can be worn outside of the house are doing well for the line. The brand previewed pieces including a knit jacket, a bodysuit with lace details and a robe made with cupro fabric.
“I tell customers this is what Kerry Washington wears on ‘Scandal’ when she’s watching TV,” said Murphy, who was holding up the long knit jacket. “But you can also wear it to grab groceries.”
The pajama dressing trend caused Anna Williamson and Ella Ringner, cofounders of Yolke, a British loungewear brand, to shift their focus from homewear to pajamas.
“Our customer just wants the pajamas,” said Williamson, who added that women are wearing the pieces for day. Yolke previewed silk pajamas in marble, cactus, and wallpaper-inspired prints. Yolke sells pajama tops, a tapered trouser, a classic pajama trouser, a lounge pant and a housedress. The collection retails from around $240 for a top and $250 for the bottoms.
Helena Stuart, the founder of Only Hearts who embodied the pervading comfort trend by wearing burgundy silk pajamas, wasn’t satisfied with the novelty prints or underwire bras.
“It was hard to find novelties that didn’t look too junior,” said Stuart. “Also, the underwire bras are looking very matronly.”
Stuart said Only Hearts had its best show ever, but she wasn’t sure why. Aydee Garcia, who manages Only Heart’s Mott Street store, offered her own assessment. “There’s a need for affordable, quality pieces,” said Garcia. “Younger girls want to be modest but sexy and not too trashy.”