Goodbye boys, hello comfort: The push-up bra shuffles off


Goodbye boys, hello comfort: The push-up bra shuffles off

The past few years have heralded the death of the padded bra as women demand more comfort

Zola Zingithwa

Back in 2016 Vogue asked: “Whatever happened to the cleavage?” The Vogue journalist asked the question because of a lack of cupped breasts looking for fresh air on the red carpets of glitzy events and fashion runways.
It was in 1994 that Wonderbra delighted many a man when it unveiled its now infamous campaign for the push-up bra. The advert featured the Czech model Eva Herzigova looking down at her pushed-up cleavage with the caption: “Hello Boys”. A panel that included industry creatives in the UK even voted it the best poster of all time.
But that was back in 2011.
Last month, the label tried to rebrand itself to better fit into the current zeitgeist of the #MeToo movement. The latest poster ad now says “Hello Me” as the Wonderbra-wearing model teasingly stares into the camera.
And yet, it would seem that the era of the push-up bra has been receding into fashion history as reported by various media outlets in the past few years. According to retail analyst firm Edited, the first quarter of 2017 saw a 50% drop in sellout rates of push-up bras in retailers across the US, UK and Europe. In fact, lingerie retailers known for their push-up bras such as Victoria’s Secret and Agent Provocateur have struggled with sales in recent years. Victoria’s Secret in particular has not had a great 2018. Edited’s studies have shown that many retailers are cutting down their order of push-up bras in lieu of styles that evoke the au naturel look.
Soft bras, bralettes and triangle-shaped bras are now en vogue.
From celebrities to models and social media influencers, today’s “It girls” are advocating for letting the girls feel comfortable.
Fashion United argues that the popularity of athleisure wear in fashion is the reason for the increased interest in comfortable lingerie. According to the same 2017 Edited study, sales of bralettes and triangle bras skyrocketed by 120% during the decline in sales of the padded bra.
Heather Gramston, a buying manager at Selfridges, says women are driving this trend towards comfort bras. She told The Guardian that women are exploring different definitions of what it means to be sexy.
“It is now defined as how a woman feels when she is wearing something, as opposed to what she looks like in archetypal lingerie created with men in mind.”
As the move towards the comfort trend gains momentum, traditional retailers as well as newly established brands are making an effort to supply different styles that cater to women with different body shapes and sizes. There are now styles such as the “busty bralette” found at Lively, a comfort lingerie brand founded by a former Victoria’s Secret senior merchant.
Another former devotee of a padded bra empire, Serena Rees, founded Les Girls Les Boys after having co-founded Agent Provocateur in 1994. Rees states in The Guardian that what Agent Provocateur did in the 1990s was in tune with the times, but that now things have changed.
“We don’t really make padded bras because people don’t want to have their boobs shoved up under their chin,” she says. “That’s not really the look any more.”
Well then, amen to that!

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email or call 0860 52 52 00.