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We’re at the start of another new year, which means lingerie trend prediction time! As I’ve said before, I have no training or qualifications in trend forecasting – I’m simply someone who spends a whole lot of my year browsing lingerie products and enjoys the challenge of trying to spot new patterns as they emerge. Call these my educated guesses. But before I dive into what I think will be some of 2021’s biggest lingerie trends, let’s first take a look back at my last set of predictions and how on or off the mark they were…
Were my 2020 lingerie trend predictions right?
As it turned out, the biggest trend in the lingerie industry last year was one that nobody could have predicted – face masks! Practically overnight, masks became such a Big Deal that, despite them being seemingly unrelated to underwear, it felt like almost every lingerie brand on my timeline had launched their own versions. And not just handmade indies either, but also bigger companies such as Wolford* and Hanes. Online lingerie retailer Knickers Boxers Glory* even began selling hand sanitiser! And of course, it’s understandable that so many brands wanted to cash in on a booming market in a time when sales of anything non-pandemic related suddenly became less certain.
The number one trend prediction that I did make for 2020 was that an increasing number of brands would be launching ‘eco’ ranges or initiatives, and that they did. In September, Naran announced in a newsletter they they were moving to 100% compostable packaging. In October, What Katie Did introduced new biodegradable packaging for their stockings. And in November, Vienne Milano launched a line of sustainable hold-ups, while Queen of Suburbia also introduced fully-compostable packaging. Those were just a few such examples I remembered to note down through the year.
I wanted as little of our packaging end up in a landfill as possible, so I’m super excited to share new 100% compostable mailers and 100% recyclable boxes with paper tape. As always, business cards are made from recycled tees and we now put orders in cotton bags – no plastic! pic.twitter.com/8AniuZcw9Y
— Queen of Suburbia Lingerie (@qofslingerie) November 7, 2020
I also anticipated that we’d see more ultra-minimalistic, “solid-colour lingerie that’s completely stripped-back in terms of decoration”, and I think we did. For example, Agent Provocateur put out their uncharacteristically-plain Dion range* (it’s shapewear! Not something I ever expected from this brand) and even I.D. Sarrieri, a luxury label that’s best known for its lavish use of lace, released an Essentials range of pared-back basics. [Edit April 2021: Six weeks after this article was originally published, Agent Provocateur also released another very basic-looking everyday range, All Hours.]
My third trend forecast was about asymmetrical design. While it has stayed pretty niche as far as trends go, I definitely saw more examples of it – among them, Agent Provocateur’s Avah corset body and Joan brief* and suspender*, Chantelle’s Revolt set*, Andres Sarda’s Tiziano set and Baed Stories’ New Moon brief.
Another 2020 trend prediction I made was a continuation of brands experimenting with custom ‘logo’ fabrics. There were fewer that I expected, but still a handful. Ted Baker, who had previously done logo-jacquard satin, designed their Zarmina robe in logo-embossed velour. Agent Provocateur, a brand that is no stranger to turning its logo into embroideries, released the Casper range* with not-so-subtle AP branding. And SKIMS created their Pointelle loungewear collection that turned the brand’s logo into a barely-there texture.
And then finally, I suggested we might see more chunky buckles used on lingerie in 2020, but we didn’t – except on that Chantelle Revolt set I linked above. Buckles do somewhat tie into one of my 2021 lingerie trend predictions however, so we may yet! Now, speaking of what’s coming this year…
My 2021 lingerie trend predictions
1. Super-comfort fabrics
The lingerie and general fashion industry has been moving in a direction of increasing comfort for some time now, from the athleisure trend to the explosion in the popularity of bralettes. And then we entered a pandemic that required most of us to spend endless time indoors, and suddenly getting dressed was all about feeling comfy. So it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a lot more lingerie and loungewear in soft, cosy fabrics lately. From fuzzy lounge sets to flowing velvet slip dresses to ribbed-knit bras and knickers, this is one trend I feel very confident we’ll continue to see more of.
2. ‘Cycling short’ underwear
Is it because Kim K and SKIMS made thigh shapers cool? Something to do with athleisure-fever and the fit of leggings? People getting tired of the ultra-high legline trend? Just a natural progression from the trend for knickers with menswear-inspired logo waistbands? I have no idea, but I am seeing this long boxer-like underwear shape everywhere lately. I highly doubt it’s going away anytime soon!
P.S. Spotting some crossover with the trend above in some of the fabrics here?
3. Loungewear-outerwear crossover brands/collections
This is actually a trend I considered including in last year’s list, and let’s just say that if I’d known there was a year+ long pandemic coming, I definitely would have! We’ve spent so much time living in comfy ‘indoor’ clothing – and, unfortunately, probably still have a while to go before that changes – that we’ve grown accustomed to more relaxed fits and softer fabrics. Even if life goes fairly back to normal in 2021 (fingers crossed!), we’ll still be craving that.
So for this trend prediction, I’m talking about transitional pieces that are specifically designed to be worn as both loungewear and outerwear, such as pyjama suits and slip dresses. While sleep/loungewear that could feasibly be worn outside already existed, I think that in 2021 we’ll see more brands either releasing dedicated wear-everywhere collections or at least styling their loungewear looks out and about on Instagram, plus potentially even some entirely new brands popping up that focus on this niche, along the lines of For Restless Sleepers.
4. Unusual hardware
I might not have seen many more buckle fastenings on lingerie last year, but recently, I have seen designers become more creative with their hardware choices. Two types in particular have stood out as having been done by multiple brands: those lobster clasps you’d typically see on handbag straps, and chunky chain details (see the Paloma Casille bra further up the page for example). But just in general, I’ve noticed that prominent hardware – especially of the avant-garde variety – is becoming more popular, and I expect we’ll see quite a few different takes on the trend in 2021.
5. Cute and quirky embroideries
Non-floral embroideries have been gaining popularity for some years now, with recent mini-trends ranging from embroidered text to starry motifs to outline silhouettes of the female form. I think this coming year will bring more examples of ‘chic cartoon’ embroideries in particular – the type that were popularised by Mimi Holliday, but which other brands are now picking up on too. I’m especially enjoying this trend because it just goes to show that lingerie, even the luxury stuff, doesn’t have to be about feeling ultra-sexy – it can also just be about having fun!
6. Horizontal bust strapping
This is my wildcard trend prediction for the year ahead. On the one hand, I feel like this is most likely one of those micro trends that may disappear as quickly as I spotted it… but on the other hand, strappy lingerie is still very popular and brands are going to have to be constantly trying out new strap placements to keep it feeling fresh, so could this straight-across overbust placement be the next big thing? I’ve certainly seen it quite a few times lately.
I have no doubt that last year’s top trend of sustainability is going to continue into 2021 too – and hopefully, that one will move beyond trend territory to simply become the new norm.
What do you think of these 2021 lingerie trend predictions? Do you agree with them, or have you spotted one that I haven’t mentioned here? I’ll plan to review them again when the year is through to see how many I got right this time!