Curvy Couture bras

Lingerie is having a moment. So is intimate apparel and sleepwear. In fact, the whole innerwear world and its many unmentionables are on everyone’s minds with consumers stuck at home for months on end. Sales of men’s and women’s comfy basics, underwear and lingerie have surged since the pandemic started.  

Wacoal Intimates

Intimates brand Wacoal.  Courtesy Photo

And there are examples everywhere: Direct-to-consumer lingerie brand Adore Me’s sales are up 50 percent year-over-year since March. Lingerie boutique Journelle saw a 130 percent increase in the wholesale division and 32 percent online in the second half of 2020, compared with the first half. Men’s underwear brand Paper Project was up 438 percent in fall 2020, compared with fall 2019. Revenues at Canadian innerwear brands Mary Young and Knix were also up in December, with the former seeing 70 percent year-over-year growth and the latter 80 percent. 

The same is true for barely there lingerie. Sales of sexy lingerie increased 244 percent at lingerie and swimwear e-tailer Figleaves in Nov. 2020 year-over-year in the firm’s own brand. London-based Playful Promises saw a 90 percent rise in sales of crotchless-style underpants during the same period. 

Meanwhile, brands like Zara, Karl Lagerfeld and swim and resortwear designer Miguelina have expanded into intimates. Others are expanding into new markets. Kim Kardashian West’s Skims just launched in the Middle East. Victoria’s Secret has plans to open in Israel in the back half of 2021. Brands like Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty and Frederick’s of Hollywood — traditionally known for scantily-clad women’s lingerie — have recently launched men’s wear collections as well. 

Investors have taken note, too. Mindd Bras, founded by Victoria’s Secret alum Helena Kaylin, recently received a $1 million investment from Canadian financial platform The51 and investment firm WVL Capital. MeUndies got $40 million. 

Soma intimates

Intimates apparel brand Soma.  Courtesy Photo / One Kreate

But can the momentum last post-pandemic, when consumers once again start venturing out and putting on regular clothes? 

Only time will tell. But for now, many say “yes.” 

“With many consumers working from home, innerwear and loungewear are habit-forming and are now an everyday basic for people like jeans,” said Guido Campello, co-chief executive officer and creative director of Journelle. “Even when consumers start to return to the office, this will not change. The pandemic has permanently altered consumers’ sense of style. Consumers will embrace a new business casual with the acceptance of upper management in more casual clothes with small details of formality and tradition. Fashion has changed forever and styles at work will be more relaxed but also much cooler than ever before.”

Helen Mears, chief design officer at Adore Me, added, “I imagine sales will remain high, even when the pandemic is over. The world has gotten used to this work-from-home, flexible lifestyle and all the clothes that go with it.”