Recently I was reading this Wall Street Journal article about how Victoria’s Secret, the iconic lingerie brand, built over decades with its entire focus on padded and push-up bras, is going through one of the roughest times in their history because of one little trend… ‘The Bralette’!
Bralettes are essentially non-padded / lightly padded, non-underwire, really comfortable undergarments that have been fast replacing the heavily padded and push-up bra sections in almost every girl’s wardrobe. According to WSJ, all these years, the giant of a lingerie house has only been talking about how to enhance your cleavage and how ‘bigger is better’… and with this sudden shift in consumer attitude towards ‘being comfortable wearing my own skin’, their sales came tumbling down! They’ve finally, only recently realized that this isn’t a passing trend, and for the first time in their history have introduced non-padded, non-underwire bralettes, in line with this new rising consumer trend! However, WSJ essentially pointed out two major areas of concern… firstly, was there a brand fit? Second, with the bralettes priced at almost half the price of a Victoria Secret bra, wouldn’t the company’s sales figures suffer drastically?!
Now, I’ll come to those questions again later, but the thing that really struck me about this more than what Victoria’s Secret was going through… was that it reflects an entire shift in people’s, especially women’s attitude towards life in general! From a few years ago where every woman was hankering after push-up bras with pillows for cups, opting for cosmetic body enhancement and just about doing anything for a ‘perfect’ body…to today… where women are seeking ‘comfortable’ and ‘natural’ undergarments! Is it a new-found level of confidence within one’s own body? People call it a ‘trend’. People even call ‘natural’ a ‘trend’. I don’t think it’s a trend… I think it’s a phenomenon! Women feeling confident enough not to want to enhance their breasts artificially by using push-ups, people looking down on cosmetic surgery and silicon implants, make-up artists opting for a ‘natural’ look, going athleisure ( wearing comfortable sports/loungewear even to more formal occasions), choosing flats over high-heels, wearing sneakers to work, messy buns and messy pigtails, beachy waves, gypsy/boho style… these are all according to me, are manifestations of this massive change in consumer psyche! Right from organic food, to herbal medicines, to natural skincare, and even ‘un-touched’ vacation spots… people are seeking ‘Natural’.And this phenomenon is very much palpable in India as well! And it’s been brewing since quite a while…! We’ve seen a surge in organic fashion, chic yoga-wear and natural cosmetics! We’ve had trends like athleisure and bohemian (the essence of both of which is comfortable, low-key style) almost become mass-movements within the fashion industry!
How we feel and what we think reflects on the way we look and dress… that’s a universal truth! Isn’t it obvious then, that with this kind of a mind-space, women would sooner or later want to get rid of the uncomfortable and unnecessarily OTT push-up bras?
How’s it then, that lingerie brands… and that too, someone with the marketing abilities like that of Victoria’s Secret, didn’t see this coming? Bralettes too, have been around for a while. I for once, have been buying them since 2yrs at least. The only thing is that in India, you still don’t see reputed brands getting into it! They’re still typically available in those small mom n pop stores, typically sourced from Bangkok or China.
But the thing about Bralettes is not just about being comfortable in your body… the interesting thing about them is, that women are actually okay them peeping out from their clothes! It’s okay to show them off because in her mind, they are NOT underwear! It’s weird, but it’s true! Even in India, young women are increasingly becoming comfortable and non-caring about their innerwear being visible! Is that because we’re more confident now, or is it because after a point you just give-up and stop to care about what others think?! I think a little bit of both…! However, while a bra being visible is still thought of as a taboo… (or for the more style conscious, it’s something that takes away from your outfit), a bralette, because it looks all cool and ‘non-bra-like’, is okay to be visible! ‘It’s almost like wearing a short, crop top’… is her justification to self!
And that’s where I think Victoria’s Secret can really kill the market, in spite of being a late-entrant! No one knows how to make better looking and more fashionable lingerie than Victoria’s secret! Their campaign for their bralettes has been all about“leaving your tee at home”! And while that’s a little extreme, yes… that’s theVictoria’s Secret brand connect! They’ve been a company that has always been bold, flamboyant and sexy and in spite of having to move away from their ‘cleavage’ connection… they’re still keepin’ it Hot! Embracing change and moving with times is always good!
As per WSJ’s second concern… about the price…, Being a woman, and a fashion blogger there’s another behavior that I’ve observed… you never buy just ‘one’ bralette! In my opinion, because bralettes are more open for display and because you wouldn’t want to be seen wearing the same one again and again… women end up buying at least a couple of them in each purchase! The lower price point, actually encourages that decision! And hence, just like clothes, it is a more frequent wardrobe requirement, as compared to bras.
Hence, in my opinion, even though they may have been a little behind in their consumer trend-spotting… they can still pull it off better than most others!
I wonder though, if Indian marketers are clued in… or if they’re going to still be making the same mistakes as Victoria’s Secret?!