Showcasing the latest in the big business of skimpy, several designers hit the runway on Friday and Saturday during the inaugural Lingerie Fashion Week.
In what is billed as the first fashion week devoted exclusively to the industry, six designers presented their fall/winter collections in New York, shelling out anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000 apiece to participate. The event marks a departure from relying solely on the trade-show-centric model that many brands are used to, where new product is unveiled at twice-yearly gatherings that occur in February and August.
"In the past, the intimate apparel industry has had trade shows," said Lauren Rich, the event's founder. "Just like Fashion Week happens twice a year, the trade shows happen twice a year. They're the path to buyers and getting into stores."
This year's show comes just as intimate apparel sales are beginning to come back following a slowdown during the recession, said Marshal Cohen, retail industry analyst with NPD Group.
Although intimate apparel didn't see its typical post-recession jump start, it is now experiencing slight growth again after regaining momentum in the second half of 2012, he added. Sales rose 0.8 percent to $10.6 billion in the 12 months ended November 2012 compared to the same period in the prior year, according to the latest information from NPD.
Click ahead for scenes from this year's inaugural Lingerie Fashion Week.
By Katie Little
Posted 24 Feb 2013
Inspired by Old Hollywood glamour, Nevaeh's items are made of silk charmeuse with vintage detailing.
Founded in 2011, the line includes adjustable and removable options so items can be worn throughout the day.
Prices range from $88 to $140 for a pair of panties to $160 to $210 for bras. Items are available online at Bella Bella Boutique or in various boutiques in New York City and Los Angeles.
Typically, designer Melissa Franchi attends tradeshows, holds trunk shows and participates in charity events to market her brand.
Franchi cited the impact of the hit erotic novel series "Fifty Shades of Grey" as "huge, huge, huge."
"I feel like American women overall are becoming more comfortable since 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has come out," she added. "We're also doing an accessories line now because that's becoming very, very popular. Women are becoming much more comfortable with their bodies and themselves."
The accessories line includes wrist cuffs made out of embroidery and rosary beads and silk charmeuse masks.
The brand's designs are crafted in New York's Garment District.
This is the second collection for Nevaeh, which draws its name from "the secret password to unlock the gates of paradise."
Getting a foot through stores' doors is one challenge as an emerging brand, Franchi said.
"We're newer so for stores, they're a bit more wary of taking on a newer brand because they want to make sure you're going to last, you're going to be around, you're going to withstand time," she continued.
Two models pose at the Nevaeh Intimates presentation during the inaugural Lingerie Fashion Week in New York City.
Founded in December, Rouge Seduire is the mostly recently launched brand of those presenting at Lingerie Fashion Week. Its bras typically retail for $200 each while a pair of panties costs about $100, designer Sharon Fan said.
Fan, whose background is in graphic design and cosmetics packaging, said she sees the American culture in a period of change.
"Women right now — they don't like to cover everything up," Fan said. "They like to show. They like designs that are interesting, I think, in lingerie as well."
Rogue Seduire's designs are currently sold online at Bella Bella Boutique and at a New Jersey boutique.
Rouge Seduire's designer Sharon Fan cited finding good seamtresses with years of experience as one challenge for emerging designers within the lingerie industry.
After graduating from fashion school in France and working with lingerie designers in Paris, designer Anais Bouchard moved to the U.S. and launched her own line in May.
This collection is the brand's fourth to feature its signature lingerie-meets-loungewear looks that still exude a designer touch.
"My main challenge is to present my collection as more everyday than glamorous or functional," she said, "It's really hard for people to understand because that's a completely new market, and there are not that many designers in the market."
Bouchard, who grew up in Burgundy, France, observed that women in the U.S. spend more on loungewear but less on lingerie than French women do.
"We have very different ways to shop actually and to think about lingerie," she added. "I think that American women look way more for the comfort, and that's why I positioned myself in that market, and I think that they don't pair while in Europe we pair everything. It's like an obsession."
Bouchard had participated two times in New York Fashion Week before choosing to show during Lingerie Fashion Week
"When Lauren approached me with the idea of Lingerie Fashion Week, I was really excited because I think that the lingerie business in the U.S. needs way more fun and something a little more trendy, and I'm definitely in that type of category," she said.
NaiS items are carried at the Canadian department store Simons, ModCloth.com in addition to boutiques in New York City and the West Coast. Bras cost $60 to $90 while a pair of underwear is $24 to $40.
Designer Monica Wesley founded Uye Surana in 2010 while she was still attending Parsons School of Design. The label's looks feature hand-made elements and subtle features.
In addition to lingerie and loungewear, Uye Surana also features relaxed day or evening dresses. Each garment is made in the U.S. while many are produced in Brooklyn.
Customers can purchase Uye Surana items online through a French boutique or at boutiques in locations ranging from Tel Aviv, Israel to New Jersey and New York.
Designed to embody the femme fatale archetype, FYI by Dani Read features looks that are meant to be aggressive and fearless.
Designer Dani Read launched the brand in early 2011. The brand is carried online on its own website and at boutiques across the country including New York City, London and San Francisco.
With the slogan "women are weapons" and trademark black-heart tattoo, the brand "shuns the lingerie industry's traditional portrayal of women of women as perky pin-ups or delicate flowers," according to its website.
Models from the Nevaeh Intimates presentation pose together during the first ever Lingerie Fashion Week. The event's founder Lauren Rich plans to hold the second iteration of the industry gathering in August. So far, she said 20 brands have expressed interest.