Undressing the UK

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Undressing the UK

What is generally hidden from sight yet has been one of the most progressive clothing categories over the years? Yes underwear, if you think about it, it has certainly changed a lot over time; from corsets, bloomers and crinolines to the thongs and boxer shorts favoured in more modern times.

As a retail category, underwear is currently having a moment - there's been a 32.3 % increase in underwear styles available in the UK from 2016 to 2017. Being so obsessed with these types of changes, trends, threats and opportunities in clothing categories, we had to dig into the data deeper for you. In this blog post we will be sharing our findings, analysing changing consumer demands and exposing the trends that are kept under wraps...

Underwear has, in recent times fallen into four distinct categories;
Practical; everyday practical options at a mid price point as exemplified by M&S - the mainstay of the UK underwear market.
Brand Led; label driven with a sporty feel at a slightly higher price point - Calvin Klein underwear continues to be the most searched item on Mallzee.
Lingerie; luxury more delicate options at a premium price point, the occassion wear of underwear - niche retailers such as Rigby & Peller.
Shape Wear; as the name suggests these items are designed as the foundations of an outfit - mid price point - Spanx are the leaders in this category

At least one item from each of these categories can be found in the smalls drawer of UK females - with age and demographics determining which category dominates.

Calvin Klein logo underwear has been a consistent bestseller for the last 25 years - predominantly with a younger brand led demographic (13-30 years). The iconic success of Calvin Klein underwear can be largely attributed to the branded waistband and comfortable designs. The underwear is a classic example of a designer offering an entry level product attractive to brand led aspirational consumers who can’t afford the more expensive designer items. By featuring the logo on the waistband and with the trend for low slung trousers - Calvin Klein was one of the first brands to move underwear to outerwear - and today millennials are proudly showing off their designer underwear credentials under open shirts and low slung trousers and dungarees.

calvin-klein-kate-moss-mark-wahlber-ad-1992

Whilst Calvin Klein (there are others; Tommy Hillfiger, Ivy Park etc) has undoubtedly driven the brand led trend over the last 25 years the underwear was a comfortable, practical and often sporty option. But there is a new trend which is currently exploding and it couldn’t be more different - it’s delicate and frivolous - more aligned to high end luxury lingerie but a cheaper sexier version. In 2016, 35.4% of underwear available on Mallzee could be categorised as lingerie whereas in 2017 this has risen steeply to 55.2%, covering flimsy bras, lace pants and even body bows!

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While Agent Provocateur and Victoria’s Secret have been the pioneers of this underwear category they sit at the premium end of the high street and proof that this mass market lingerie is the one to watch are the new entrants such as Bluebella who offer all the frivolity and lace but at a lower price point that is attracting a whole new generation of lingerie shoppers. This lingerie trend - whilst it may not have logos on waistbands is still highly brand led and judging by the bright colour palettes and intricate designs is still very much designed to be seen, albeit under or peeking out of tops.

We think it’s fair to say that with Christmas 2017 fast approaching, UK shoppers are once again foregoing comfort and practicality all in the name of fashion!

Spotted a trend or have a burning question we can explore? Get in touch via brands@mallzee.com.

Mallzee Insights
Dec 06, 2017

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