Jennifer Foyle, president of American Eagle's Aerie, told CNBC that the brand has been focusing more heavily on bralettes over the past three years. In that time, the assortment has evolved from just one silhouette, the lace bandeau, to more than 10.
"Our girl likes to show off her bralette, and it is becoming a staple in her wardrobe to complete her outfit," Foyle said. She added that the style has spurred sales of additional items.
"We design some tees and tanks with open backs, low-cut arm holes and deep V-necks specifically to show off the bralettes underneath," she said.
Aerie will launch a new padded bandeau this month, and will continue to introduce new styles, colors and silhouettes, Foyle said.
The apparel industry desperately needs a new trend to take hold. Though sales at clothing and accessories stores rose 3.2 percent during the first two months of 2016, they've struggled over the past few years due to excessive promotions, the growth of low-price competitors including H&M and Primark, and price transparency online.
Analysts, however, have been somewhat optimistic about spring apparel sales. That's in part because there are fewer must-have tech gadgets stealing a share of consumers' wallets, and because an early start to spring could unleash pent-up demand.
"As we are entering the heart of the spring selling season, we believe that sales trends, in general, have experienced a modest uptick," Tubin said. "We are encouraged by what we have seen and heard during our recent mall visits and believe trends are improving."