Better education on the importance of fit combined with online platforms connecting the consumer with e-tailers and physical stores has led to a greater awareness on the market availability of fuller-bust brands. So what are consumers’ favourite larger-cup styles and what will they be buying in SS18? We speak to leading DD+ brands to find out.
Larger-busted women have never been better served by the lingerie and swimwear industries.
A better understanding of the importance of fit and a huge demand for fashionable underwear has lead to a greater choice of styles in D cup or above, and thanks to the explosion of ecommerce and social media, consumers now have a greater awareness of the plethora of brands available on the market.
“Online has transformed the market and women can discover everything that is out there with a few clicks of a button. It has never been a more exciting time to be either a consumer or a designer in this sector – beautiful new pieces are coming on to the market every week,” says Emily Bendell, the founder and CEO of Bluebella, which launched its fuller-bust sister brand MORE by Bluebella 18 months ago.
“We have noticed that consumers are becoming a lot more experimental and are looking to try out exciting new brands like ours,” she adds.
“I think a big part of that switch has been the growing popularity of online retail and particularly the free returns which Bluebella offers. It means you can try a new brand without any risk of losing your money if the bra isn’t quite right or doesn’t fit.”
LF Intimates, which manufactures lingerie and swimwear brands Charnos, Lepel and Lepel London, has also seen an increase in fuller-bust consumers shopping online.
“The ecommerce trend has been growing for years. This leads us to believe that they understand their fit more and are confident enough to re-buy from brands they know,” said UK sales director Peter Cronin.
But online isn’t solely a platform for sales; it has also helped connect consumers with bricks and mortar boutiques.
“Consumers are engaging more with independent lingerie boutiques or local department stores which have staff trained to fit bras,” says Panache product and planning coordinator Alysia Brown.
“For us, this is great as it means that the consumer gets the full experience of finding a great fitting bra from a professional bra specialist in store, which we encourage every woman to do.”
This AW17 will see Panache launch a new campaign designed to educate women on how to find the perfect fit, whether that’s online or in store.
The Find Your Fit campaign features a new online bra fitting guide and documentary-style fitting advice video. Panache-accredited retailers will also host fit events to get the message out to new customers.
Leigh Norris, director of Marketing at Panache, commented: “Our new campaign encourages women to get fitted for their current shape and size and to finally find the right fit. That ‘wow’ moment when you Find Your Fit, that banishes bulges and saggy straps can make women feel a million dollars.”
Wacoal has also expanded its focus on fit over the last year. “Firstly, the group has developed a series of new bra fitting videos for each of its brands. Available in nine different versions across languages, the videos are hosted by some of the group’s most experienced fitting consultants who guide viewers through the stages of a perfectly fitting bra,” says Belinda Leca, head of sales for Freya, Fantasie and Elomi.
“Additionally, Wacoal Europe has developed its Fitting School programme, a scheme which the business runs internally to educate retailers about the importance of bra fitting, how its brands fit and to provide knowledge and expertise on bra fit, as well as fit training.”
So now we know how fuller-bust customers are shopping and what’s driving growth in this sector, what do we suppose they are buying, in terms of styles and colours, both online and in store?
Lingerie Insight finds out from leading fuller-bust brands in the industry and discovers what design details consumers are demanding from suppliers and what they’ll be buying next season.
Thanks to clever fabric innovations, the biggest trends seen across A-D collections are now being translated into styles and shapes that work for bigger boobs.
For example, Freya has a launched the Soiree bralette for AW17. This combines the look of the popular bralette with the support of a wire and merges soft lace with a hidden structure.
Fuller-bust brands are also playing with softer-handle fabrics in line with the current trend for comfort bras and fashionable styles that can be worn everyday.
“We are seeing the leisure and comfort trend filtering into the lingerie segment,” says Brown. “Getting the right mix between a relaxed look and great support is becoming more and more important for the larger-busted lady. This is a trend which the Panache technical team is exploring, and for Panache designers it is exciting to bring these elements into our existing styles.”
Triumph global head of creative design Sian Thomas agrees, adding: “Lightness is the continued need we have seen as far as our fuller-cup customer is concerned. She wants bras that are lightweight, delicate and sophisticated and understands and trusts Triumph to bring their fit and support expertise to deliver this without compromising on look.”
DD+ lingerie labels are also playing around with transparency, using power mesh and stretch lace, and experimenting with strapping details and bold prints.
“Within prints, there are trends of both futuristic and geometric styling, as well as nature and earthy tones, and these can be seen for AW17 throughout Panache, Cleo and Sculptresse brands,” says Brown.
So, the biggest trend in the DD+ lingerie sector is creating product which creates a similar buzz and excitement to the smaller cup ranges, Bendell suggests.
“A lingerie buyer in the DD+ sector does not want to have to compromise on style, just because she is focussed on a larger-cup range,” she adds.
So what have larger-cup consumers been buying this year, both in store and online? We asked fuller-bust brands to share their best-selling styles of the year so far.
“In store, Tango Balconnet is one of the biggest selling DD+ styles. Featuring an underwire and rigid top cup, nothing is as supportive for the larger busted lady,” says Brown.
“To get the fit correct and benefit from the support and comfort, a professional bra specialist will be able to guide the customer to the correct size. For this reason, Tango is a popular style for both the customer and the fitter. Another popular style in store is Envy Full Cup. This style is a four-section full cup bra with a laminated bottom cup, side sling and stretch lace top cup available up to a K.”
“Online, Tango is also very popular, and for repeat customers they repurchase this favourite style in the newest colours.
“We also find that customers look forward to seeing the new colours in our Panache sports bra each season.”
For Elomi, the best-selling style of the last six months has been Matilda, a plunge bra featuring beaded lace and an opulent silver lining.
For Freya, the Freya Fancies plunge and longline bras have sold consistently well across both stores and online, and for Fantasie, the Alicia side-support bra featuring a cascading carnations print and bow detailing has been a best-seller.
Meanwhile at Triumph, the classic Amourette range continues to build loyal customers.
“Once they have experienced the fit and comfort of Amourette, they come back every season,” says Thomas. “Our Magic Wire Bra has also been successful in larger-cup sizes by offering non-wired comfort without compromising support.”
The best-selling fuller-bust bras for Charnos have been Rosalind, featuring matt/shine stretch lace with an inbuilt cotton sling, and Sienna, a four-piece bra crafted with an embroidered top cup.
For Lepel, the Fiore padded plunge bra developed with floral lace and contrasting embroidery continues to do well, and for Lepel London, the Tamara Velvet balcony bra, featuring satin cups, mesh detailing, overbust strapping and lace trims, has attracted a younger customer.
The Aura bra has been by far the biggest seller at MORE by Bluebella. This features wide adjustable straps, caged back detailing, innovative metalwork and moulded cups.
“It is a perennial favourite, but we are very excited about the new pieces we have created for SS18,” says Bendell.
Colour-wise, the classic core shades of black, white and nude remain best-sellers for most fuller-bust brands. But, cobalt blue, blush pink, coral and pastel green are also performing well.
Meeting consumer demands
We also asked suppliers to reveal their end-customers’ biggest demands over the last year and how they have met their expectations.
Panache said that one of the biggest demands has been variety.
“Consumers like the styles we have and they want more. They want to be able to get the same fit in a variety of colours, both everyday and trend-inspired,” explains Brown.
Going into SS18, Panache will introduce new colours in popular existing styles, such as the Porcelain Élan T-Shirt and Ardour Moulded Sweetheart bra, as well as an extended core colour offering across Panache, Cleo and Panache Sport to keep its customers happy.
At Wacoal Europe, the Freya brand has seen a demand for an increased basics offering.
“Customers want style and colour, but still want collections to be wearable. We have also seen a growth in our bralette styles and softer pieces,” says Leca.
“The athleisure trend has also allowed us to develop our activewear further and this has grown 17% on last year.”
For Fantasie, its core continuity continues to be in demand. Prints have also sold well, as have more premium ranges.
LF Intimates, meanwhile, has noticed a demand for more bodies that provide support and control.
“With the increasing trend of underwear as outerwear we’ve also seen a lot more requests for strapping detail, racer backs and bodies that can be worn as outerwear for festivals etc,” says Cronin.
“In line with this, we have developed our fashion brand Lepel London so that we can offer increased sizes and lingerie with more harness details.”
The most consistent trend that MORE by Bluebella has witnessed in the last year has been the consumer’s focus on value.
“We live in uncertain times and there has been a big squeeze on incomes,” says Bendell.
“Pricing has always been one of the key factors in Bluebella’s popularity, along with quality, and we have tried very hard to make sure our prices remain competitive despite rising costs,” she continues.
“Just as the MORE range has been skilfully designed to give a flattering and supportive fit without compromising on style, we source great quality fabrics to ensure that the finished product represents exceptional quality