Last Thursday, Zara made a bold entry into the lingerie industry with a 158-piece debut collection. While around a third of those have yet to be unveiled, the launch is titled “The Female Gaze” and so far seems to be a push up-free, padding-free product range that focusses on embracing comfort.
Although it was definitely unexpected to see an email about lingerie land in my inbox from Zara, on reflection it’s not surprising. Many of us have spent more time at home than ever this year, and our new wardrobe essentials include things like laid-back bralettes and soft-feel loungewear. But even before COVID happened, lingerie was a growing global market – predicted to increase from $38 billion in 2017 to $59 billion by 2024. It’s simply the perfect time to be selling comfy, cosy intimates and homewear.
Plus, Zara had already been offering loungewear through its Zara Home stores since 2018, stores which it plans to incorporate into the clothing ones. Could that have been a trial run for the full lingerie-lounge collection they’d always intended to launch? I don’t know, but they must certainly have seen that their loungewear was in demand.
One thing I was surprised to see amongst Zara’s new offering is silk lingerie. And some of it is incredibly well-priced! While you can pick up a polyester-satin bralette set for £36, spend just £10 more and you can get one that’s 90% silk. The collection uses mulberry silk too, a premium silk type, although it does come in different ‘grades’ and I would assume – especially at these prices – that Zara is not using the very top-end version. The silk loungewear is a little pricier, but you can still for example get a 100% mulberry silk knit top for £49.99.
Silk isn’t the only luxury or natural fibre in the collection either, with wool, alpaca, cashmere, lyocell and cotton also amongst the listed fabric contents.
Design-wise, the aesthetic here is pretty minimalist, which is what’s trending. But there are some pretty touches, such as a high-neck lace bra, various lacy bralettes, and an elegant silk nightdress with a cowl back and pleated detailing. There’s also a unique, long-sleeved bra that feels fresh and modern. For the most part though, the designs themselves are nothing groundbreaking, and I wouldn’t have expected them to be given the price range.
The most disappointing thing has been the size range (and the lack of model size diversity to go along with it). Zara has stuck to a very limited Small, Medium and Large size range, with the exception of a silk robe whose flexible fit allows it to work for XS-XL. The underwired bras and bodysuit are sold by band-cup sizing, but only come in 32B, 34B and 36B which, let’s face it, is a fancy way of saying S, M and L.
It’s apparent that they haven’t bothered to actually develop cup sizing, which is a strange move when you’re launching a lingerie line. On the one hand, grading multiple band and cup sizes is time-consuming, costly, and means you’ll have to hold more stock – and Zara’s business model is all about a speedy turnover, both producing new stock and shifting it as quickly as possible. But on the other hand, Zara’s parent company Inditex also owns Oysho, an A-C cup lingerie brand, so they certainly had the capability (and not to mention money!) to create more sizes should have have wanted to. Maybe they will introduce them with future releases, if the lingerie line is a success.
Overall, The Female Gaze is pretty much what I would have expected from a Zara lingerie line, if I’d ever tried to imagine what one would look like. There’s more emphasis on being fashion-forward and affordable than on inclusive sizing, and there’s enough style variety to have something for almost everyone – casual loungewear, fancy loungewear, basic and fancy bra sets, and even a bit of shapewear.
So far, the collection is only available to shop online. I’ve featured some of my favourite items throughout this article, but you can see them all here. You can also view the accompanying campaign photo shoot here.
What are your thoughts on Zara’s lingerie debut? Do you think that it will be here to stay?