Gone are the days when only sex appeal sold lingerie. Finally throwing off the shackles of the male gaze, today’s undergarment market is a completely different beast, propelled by female empowerment and self-love. Even the overtly sexual industry-leader Victoria’s Secret is evolving, amid controversy in China and its lowest ever ratings on record (3.3 million viewers). The VS brand has nose-dived since its peak in 2001, at 12.4 million viewers, with its titillating displays and superficiality constantly under fire.
The sector, once bolstered by unrealistic and unattainable body ideals, is now becoming more authentic and inclusive - in line with changing consumer values towards genuine representation and transparency. Now, a whole host of emerging lingerie labels are courting consumers with empowering designs that embrace a variety of silhouettes and realistic standards. Savage X Fenty - the lingerie brand from superstar Rihanna - has been praised for promoting size-inclusivity (collections range from US XS to US 3XL), and pioneering New York-based Chromat has developed a loyal following from shows advocating underrepresentation.
Considering the global lingerie market is growing, and predicted to be worth USD$125 billion by 2024 – according to a 2019 report by Report Linker – this industry shift is likely to continue making waves. Below, ORDRE recommends five young designers making their mark in this evolving landscape.
Founded by Central Saint Martins alumnus Marie Yeung, Marieyat creates androgynous underwear styles anchored in minimalistic shapes and unusual cut-out details. Collections feature bras, underwear, bodysuits, and tank tops crafted from soft rib-knit jersey, cotton, and silk to create a balance between comfort and sensuality. The label has become known for its relatable representations of women - often street-casting models and hosting events that embrace healthy, authentic body shapes.
In 2012, Danish designer Marie-Louise Mogensen founded Baserange to offer modern basics informed by clean lines and easy silhouettes. Using strictly organic fabrics such as cotton and bamboo, the brand works to deliver functional yet stylish collections that women actually want to wear. Stocked in prestigious retailers like Totokaelo in the US, Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong, and Ron Herman in Japan, Baserange is leading the way in fashion-forward lingerie.
Honing her skills working for Rigby and Peller, undergarment producers to the British royal family, designer Cicely Travers launched her UK-based label Isosceles in 2015. It offers a modern spin on lingerie that doesn’t conform to tradition, winning her BFC NEWGEN sponsorship in 2018. Travers uses vibrant stretch tulle to create collections that are functional and practical yet unexpected. Playing on geometric shapes to wrap and flatter the female form with striking effect, regardless of shape or size, the label further promotes authenticity through its campaigns, which often feature unretouched models.
Sarah Stagliano’s Parisian undergarment brand Henriette H takes inspiration from bygone eras. Focusing on feminine briefs cut from vintage-style fabrics, the label places emphasis on its personalised touches such as hand embroidered lettering, and linen pouch packaging. Simple yet refined, Stagliano brings a refreshing sense of ease to the market that highlights the poetic and charming side of lingerie, and leading stockists such as Le Bon Marche and Net-a-Porter are already on board.
New York-based brand Jonsey is helmed by designer Rachel Jones. Launched in 2015, it produces underwear staples with a strong nod to ‘90s minimalism. Catering to women of all shapes and sizes, collections orient around breathable fabrics, flattering high-waisted cuts, and sleek bralettes, marrying simplicity and style.