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What Lies Beneath

Cotton, Color and Cut Add Clarity to Intimates Preferences

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John Gallianos sketch of Diors reindeer tree

John Galliano's sketch of Dior's reindeer tree.

Photo By WWD Staff

Does anyone wear foundation garments any more? What about bras and panties? Of course they do, but those terms reflect an outmoded mode of intimate apparel thinking. Today's offerings, and the way that women are shopping for them is all new.

"Fresh new basics are really driving our business right now," affirms Cynthia M. Kelly, president of Hanro USA, a luxury intimate apparel brand. "Today's customers are younger in their thinking and seeking more modern looks in their bras and panties."

These modern looks translate to newer cuts that wear well underneath today's apparel and offer cleaner, nearly seamless silhouettes. "Today's ready-towear market impacts the way that women are shopping for their bras and panties; you have strapless bras for tube tops, and racer backs for deeply cut sleeveless shirts and tank tops. Women want their bras to offer complete opacity under today's well fitting garments," offers Maureen Stabnau, senior vice president of merchandising for Bare Necessities, an online intimate apparel store.

Not only is there increased breadth in merchandise, but today's intimates are also serving a greater audience, Stabnau continues. "The top selling bras now come in sizes for the fuller busted woman, who used to make do with the best supportive bra she had, whether that meant her straps showed or not."

What you don't see is ultimately what defines a good undergarment, particularly in the warmer months, considers Michael Kleinman, president of Fresh Pair, an internet-based business selling various intimate apparel brands.

What fiber do you prefer for underwear
(Female respondents aged 18 to 35)
100% Cotton79%
Cotton blends4%
All other fibers9%
Do not wear underwear2%
No preference3%
Do not know4%

"The summer season is all about different solutions in bras and panties; women want undergarments that are not visible but still flatter their figures. One of the easiest solutions on top is a convertible bra, so you can move the straps around and, on the bottom, thongs and boy shorts are popular cuts that are almost cut to fit for wear with today's clothes."
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