Post-surgery lingerie sector enters the mainstream

Lingerie brands are working with major retailers to bring post-surgery underwear into the mainstream.

Speaking to Lingerie Insight as part of an industry debate, designers said that with the growing demand for fashionable and affordable for mastectomy styles, big high street names are finally beginning to carry their products.

“Many consumers buy their lingerie on the high street, and for a long time high street stores did not believe there was a sufficiently large market to justify them stocking mastectomy styles. That has all changed over the past few years, and we are working with stores like Debenhams, as well as online specialists like Figleaves, to help bring our post-surgery styles into the mainstream,” said Amoena marketing manager Rhoda White.

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“A lot of consumers do want to buy from their favourite department store, and many high street retailers have introduced own-brand mastectomy ranges in the past few years, which they are understandably keen to promote,” she continued.

“However, I believe it’s important that women know they have a choice, and that’s why it’s great that our range is now making it into high street stores.”

Nicola Jane operations manager Melissa Reeve agrees with the importance of high street retailers offering ample choice.

“More and more high street retailers are introducing post-surgery lines into their lingerie collections. However, introducing one or two styles amongst a whole range of non-mastectomy styles is not sufficient.

“It is important that a customer is provided with choice when purchasing lingerie, as there is not one post-surgery style which will suit all.”

Royce commercial manager Sarah Gilbert said that more and more retailers are becoming aware of the variety of post-surgery lingerie styles available on the market, but stressed the importance of high street stores hiring well-trained, sympathetic fitters who understand their customers’ needs.

“We run our own specialist mastectomy fitting schools for our independent stores twice a year and we work in partnership with some of our larger retailers to run internal mastectomy fitting schools for their staff,” she said.

“It is vital that staff understand the needs of this particular customer and the products available: a bad shopping experience can put them off shopping altogether.”

Lorna Drew managing director Lorna Murchie said many high street lingerie retailers lack the confidence and knowledge needed to meet the needs of women who have had breast surgery.

“I think consumers would definitely like to buy mastectomy lingerie from their favourite department stores, but I think what puts buyers off from stocking these products is the fear of getting it wrong on the shop floor,” she said.

“However, I think more and more department stores are taking the plunge and stocking a very small selection of mastectomy lingerie.

“If the staff training is sufficient, there is no reason why mastectomy should not be a staple offering in all department stores in the same way maternity lingerie is.”

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