As a whole, the apparel industry might be limping along, but intimates is marching to a different drummer.
Lingerie continues to be a Teflon-coated business despite a lackluster economy. The current woes affecting the rest of the apparel industry just won’t stick to this particular market, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Having generated $12 billion at retail in 2001 — approximately $500 million more than 2000 — the consumer appetite for lingerie appears to be insatiable.
The second edition of WWDIntimates focuses on the factors that continue to spur the lingerie and hosiery businesses ahead, and why the intimates category has become increasingly popular at a time when consumer confidence is low, discretionary spending is tight and the sameness of apparel at stores generally makes for a dull shopping experience.
Though the apparel industry has traditionally pegged lingerie as a commodity business that’s about as stimulating as soybean futures, the innerwear crowd has lately won itself some serious cred with the style crowd. Lacy lingerie looks have been spotted on everything from Paris runways to "Sex and the City’s" quartet of dedicated fashionistas to Main Street, U.S.A., where slip chemises and bustiers are becoming an increasingly common sight.
Then there’s the exposure lingerie has received in a myriad number of music videos, motion pictures, TV soap operas and retail specialists such as Victoria’s Secret, with its highly hyped fashion shows and slick advertising. And let’s not forget the new breed of men’s magazines such as Maxim, Stuff, Gear and FHM, which appear fixated with glossy covers of models and actresses in skivvies little more substantial than dental floss.
Lingerie looks have also crossed over into other apparel categories, infiltrating activewear (the hoodie thrown over a sports bra), casual sportswear (a cami peeking out from beneath a suit jacket isn’t an unusual sight at the office these days) and eveningwear (the red-carpet look that’s suspiciously similar to a vintage nightie). In doing so, it’s broadened its range of materials from old standbys like silk and lace to stretch denims, silk charmeuse, velvet and faille.
Technology innovations have broadened intimates’ horizons as well, resulting in a new generation of microfibers that have a potentially boundless number of applications. Fabrics making their way to market include those that gently shape the figure instead of squeezing it into submission, that wick away perspiration and, with a little luck and some R&D dollars, that change color midwear.Body-friendly fabrics are being taken to an even more specialized level with developments in textiles that all but aim to fulfill the functions of a spa: yarns are being blended with substances that moisturize and gently massage a wearer’s skin, or aromatherapeutic yarns suffused with scents of rose or lime that will not wash out. There’s even a pair of hose woven with minerals coming from the Dead Sea, perhaps coming soon to a drugstore near you. Read about all of these body-friendly innovations in "Let’s Get Physical" (page 36).
But obviously, there’s a lot more to lingerie than its tactile properties, as Maxim’s editors would no doubt agree. In terms of aesthetics, the latest intimates trend centers on shades taken from a makeup artists’ palette, aimed at a range of consumers with hues from soft blushes and beiges to whispery smokes and cocoas. These colors are a perfect match for the complementary trend of wearing soft, chiffony layers of bodysuits, slips and camis, or tank tops worn beneath sheer apparel. See them for yourself in an evocative pair of fashion features, "Free Spirit," starting on page 18, and "Bedtime Stories," starting on page 44.
It’s not just the dynamic future of innerwear that we were able to draw upon for this year’s issue of WWDIntimates; there’s elements of its history to be found in these pages as well. Senior Editor Jessica Kerwin looked into what makes the perfect boudoir, complete with perfume bottles and antique-looking hairbrushes, in "In the Bedroom" (page 16), while Fashion News Editor Meenal Mistry’s story, "The Art of Seduction" (page 40), examines the legacy of lingerie in the art world. In "Gotta Dance" (page 32), Fashion Features Editor Nandini D’Souza talked to the lead female dancers in Broadway’s "42nd Street" about what they look for in a great pair of hose (see photo above). And after writing "Tender Loving Care" (page 58), a girl’s guide to looking after her frilly unmentionables, Textiles Fashion Editor Daniela Gilbert was inspired to go home and rearrange her entire lingerie drawer.
Those of us who cover intimates are feeling inspired, too, by a market that continues to redefine its boundaries. Stay tuned.
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia