Meet the brands that are mak­ing lingerie that’s less about the push-up and more about the push­back.

Lingerie—and the def­i­ni­tion of sexy—is evolv­ing.

ELLE (Canada) - - Content - ByLizGu­ber


to shoot a Valen­tine’s Day cam­paign for her self-ti­tled line, she skipped the usual tropes: the glossy-limbed model on a florid chaise, a va­cant stare, rose pe­tals. In­stead she en­vi­sioned two real cou­ples—one ro­man­tic and one pla­tonic—loung­ing serenely. “I wanted to cel­e­brate love in all its shapes and forms and show women of all sizes and back­grounds and with dif­fer­ent sto­ries,” she says. h

The Mon­treal brand is one of sev­eral up-and-com­ing lingerie la­bels of­fer­ing a re­fresh­ing al­ter­na­tive to the malegaze-in­formed mes­sag­ing that has long been preva­lent among the main­stream play­ers. Toronto brands Fort­night (which re­cently col­lab­o­rated with model and body-pos­i­tiv­ity ac­tivist Candice Huffine) and Knixwear (known for seam­less styles with an ath­leisure twist) as well as L.A.based Naja (known for its in­clu­sive range of nude shades) all op­er­ate with an un-re­touched au­then­tic­ity. Their MO: Buy­ing and wear­ing lingerie can be an act of self-love.

The prod­ucts back up this be­lief. “Our gar­ments are not in­tended to flat­ten, lift or re­shape but to em­brace your body,” says Young, whose best­seller is the Con­trast Bra, a soft mesh tri­an­gle style that nixes pad­ding and un­der­wire. Her lingerie is now stocked in 30 stores across North Amer­ica—proof that there’s a de­mand for un­der­gar­ments that are fem­i­nine but not girlie and sexy but not at the ex­pense of com­fort. Even Ser­ena Rees, founder of Agent Provo­ca­teur (a brand that’s a bea­con of tra­di­tional sex ap­peal), joined the low-key lingerie space with the launch of Les Girls Les Boys last year. The line con­sists of loungewear-in­spired lingerie with an an­drog­y­nous bent—no push-up bras or corsets, thank you very much.

Whether it’s the ath­leisure move­ment or a de­sire to feel con­fi­dent on our own terms, “we have def­i­nitely been mov­ing to­ward a more ca­sual and com­fort­able kind of sex­i­ness,” says Jo Lynch, lingerie ed­i­tor at trend fore­cast­ing com­pany WGSN. In a 2017 re­port on the state of the lingerie in­dus­try, WGSN sug­gested that when it comes to brand po­si­tion­ing, the highly fil­tered and edited ap­proach is start­ing to feel corny and dated—es­pe­cially in the era of Gen­er­a­tion Woke. “Con­sumers are re­spond­ing to brands that share their val­ues,” says Lind­say Reeve, founder of on­line lingerie shop Un­done, a site that car­ries brands like Lonely, a New Zealand-based line of un­der­stated lace de­signs with­out pad­ding, and Dan­ish ba­sics dar­ling Baserange. “They want to see dif­fer­ent body types; they want to see stretch marks,” she adds.

For Marissa Vosper, the idea for Neg­a­tive Un­der­wear, the body-pos­i­tive line she co-founded with Lau­ren Sch­wab, was born from a frus­tra­tion with the sta­tus quo. “I couldn’t un­der­stand why a fun­da­men­tal part of your wardrobe is the first thing you want to rip off when you come home from work,” she muses. “Bras shouldn’t have to suck.”

So why have bras sucked for so long? Vosper chalks it up to a lack of new­ness and dis­rup­tion in the in­dus­try. To­day, thanks to ad­vances in tex­tile in­no­va­tion (which have re­sulted in stretch jer­seys that of­fer more sup­port), di­rect-to-con­sumer e-com­merce plat­forms and In­sta­gram as a #nofil­ter mar­ket­ing tool, the in­die-un­der­wear sec­tor is boom­ing. Fi­nally, there’s more choice than what’s avail­able at the near­est de­part­ment store. Even the much-loathed un­der­wire is primed for rein­ven­tion. Tech com­pany Curvessence is pi­o­neer­ing a 3-D body-map­ping soft­ware to cre­ate a bra that moulds per­fectly to the in­di­vid­ual wearer.

As for bot­toms, high-cut retro-in­spired styles are mak­ing a come­back—a wel­come sil­hou­ette in a mar­ket dom­i­nated by thongs and bikini cuts.

If there’s one break­out star of this move­ment, it’s the bralette. WGSN re­ports that sales of un­der­wire bras are on the de­cline, and Vosper says that Neg­a­tive’s wire-free styles are hard to keep in stock. It’s worth not­ing that even Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret, the lingerie equiv­a­lent of your high-school prom queen, re­leased a bralette for the first time in 2017. “It’s a wel­come trend—rather than be­ing told you need two cups’ worth of pad­ding,” says Vosper.

Ul­ti­mately, feel-good lingerie is about hav­ing choices that speak to you. And if that choice hap­pens to come with a bow or a garter belt (or even some pad­ding), that’s okay, says Young. “If you feel the most con­fi­dent and em­pow­ered in a black lace push-up bra, then buy it,” she says. “Wear what­ever makes you feel amaz­ing, but al­ways ask why: Is it for you or some­one else?”

It turns out that self-aware­ness just might be the sex­i­est thing of all. n

Naja and (right) Mary Young

Lonely and (above) Les Girls Les Boys

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