"There's a very loyal customer who wants only 100 percent cotton in her undergarments," observes Stabnau. "They relate cotton to comfort and they don't want a synthetic close to their skin for that reason."
According to the NPD Fashionworld's AccuPanel, the majority of panties (57.5 percent) purchased by women aged 18 to 35 were 100 percent cotton; compared with previous years, these same women are buying more all-cotton panties on both a dollar and unit basis.
While comfortable, cotton also boasts a functional element, says Kleinman, the retailer. "High end cotton undergarments have wicking abilities and that is particularly important in terms of moisture management."
"Yes, intimate apparel is all about functionality and comfort, and we find that the Soma Intimates customer wants a fabric that will give her support and longevity, but also a wonderful hand-feel," adds Lexi Funk, brand director for the company. "All our garments feel exquisite and luxurious, but are ideally functional for everyday use."
Care is critical to the longevity of all apparel, and most women have learned hard lessons about consulting the care labels. Of the 50 percent of women who told the Monitor that they experienced apparel shrinkage, 40 percent levied blame on the laundering process. This ratio may explain why nearly 70 percent of women told the Monitor that consult garment care instructions to better understand the care involved with their apparel.
Perhaps the newest and most relevant aspect of underwear shopping is not what women are buying, but how they are buying it. The success of online retailers like Bare Necessities and Fresh Pair demonstrates that women have a confidence in their intimate apparel purchases and need not make them in the proverbial flesh.
"Convenience is a motivating factor and women like shopping online for their undergarments as it is simple, they can do it from home, find out if the garment is available in their colors and sizes with real-time messaging and make their purchase," Stabnau from Bare Necessities asserts.