The lingerie market is benefitting from a shift in the fashion industry, which is seeing high street retailers take the plunge into bridalwear.
Consumers can now buy their wedding dress from stores such as Dorothy Perkins, Lipsy, Topshop and Whistles, which have all launched bridal collections this year.
And while many lingerie brands aren’t targeting these specific retailers, they are predicting a lift in sales, driven by this trend.
To explain, the greater availability of affordable wedding and bridesmaid dresses on the high street is set to bring down the overall cost of the bridal outfit, leaving more funds to play with when it comes to purchasing quality bridal lingerie, according to Panache product and planning coordinator Alysia Brown.
“We believe quality bridal lingerie is the best foundation for making ladies look and feel great on their big day,” she adds.
Anna Roca, marketing director at Spanish brand Promise agrees: “Anything that puts more focus on bridal fashion has a positive impact on all companies related to the business.
“And while the high street is not exactly our target, what we have noticed is that when brides and bridesmaids choose their lingerie for their special day, they look for brands that offer them quality pieces which they feel comfortable in, and which help their dresses look even better,” Roca continues.
Another factor that could potentially drive bridal lingerie sales is the fact that many affordable wedding dresses sold on the high street are not made with in-built internal support, such as cups or boning.
“As these dresses often aren’t cupped, having great fitting bridal lingerie will help create a good foundation for the bride’s look, so in turn this could create a greater demand for bridal lingerie,” says Brown.
Roca believes that the simplicity of many high street gowns is at odds with Promise’s corsetry style, increasing the need for quality foundation wear, but adds that what really influences consumers’ choice of underwear is their size and body shape.
“If the bride is a size 36D, for example, they will need to opt for a bra that provides the best support and comfort possible to ensure they feel confident,” she explains. “That’s what seems to be driving the increase in sales – a need for support and comfort, independent of the dress style or shape.”
Belinda Leca, head of sales for Freya, Fantasie, Elomi and Goddess adds: “The right fitting lingerie can make a huge difference to how you look and feel on your special day, helping the dress fit more securely and supporting the figure as needed, which could result in higher demand for both lingerie and shapewear.”
Aside from the growing availability of affordable wedding gowns on the high street, there are a number of other factors driving a growth of bridal lingerie sales.
More people are tying the knot, for example. The popularity of marriage is rising again after almost 40 years of decline, according to the latest figures on marriages in England and Wales from the Office of National Statistics.
In 2011, married men and women were almost a minority in England and Wales at just 50.7% of the adult population. However, in 2014, 51.2% of people over the age of 16 were found to have tied the knot.
The bridal season is also lasting longer and starting earlier, increasing bridal sales throughout the year, according to Debenhams senior lingerie buyer Louise Gibling.
The trend for hen do holidays in the UK and abroad, the increased exposure to bridal parties on social media, and the popularity for ‘mini moons’ and extended honeymoons have also had an impact on sales.
So the bride is not only purchasing practical lingerie for under her wedding gown, but she’s also shopping for gifts, such as kimonos and slippers, for her and her bridal party, alongside special lingerie and sleepwear pieces for her breaks away after the big day.
“The definition of bridal lingerie is no longer a bra and brief set worn under a dress – it encompasses the whole event from hen do to honeymoon, if not further. Weddings are no longer a service followed by a meal – they are big social events spanning several months,” explains Peter Cronin, sales and marketing director, LF Intimates, which has seen an 11% increase in bridal lingerie sales through its Charnos and Lepel labels this year.
“We’re seeing our products across all brands appearing in bridal sections, both online and in stores.”
Gibling agrees, adding: “Whilst there will always be a need for practical smoothing bridal lingerie, there is a mind-set of ‘hen do to honeymoon’ encompassing special pieces and trend-led styles, such as high-neck bras and bodies, as featured in our Reger by Janet Reger ranges.
“We have also seen a loyal customer following for Ted Baker, which has recently launched their own bridal range.”
Going forward, bridal lingerie suppliers and retailers are predicting continued growth in this area.
“If customers are buying more high street, lower quality dresses then the demand for excellent foundation wear will increase,” says Leca.
Gibling predicts that brides will continue to “value fit and style”, but envisages a greater demand for personalised items and specialist ranges in the future.
Meanwhile, Roca believes that bridal lingerie must evolve in line with wedding gown trends.
“It is imperative that the lingerie offering is completely thought out for this special day and designed according to the leading trends in this sector. Lingerie plays an important role, and is the perfect partner for the complete look of the bride.”