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Battle of the Bras: Revolutionising the Lingerie Market

Beauty standards are constantly evolving and the fashion industry evolves with them. Lizzie Laughton compares Victoria Secret to Savage X Fenty to examine the changing scope of the lingerie market.

THE CROFT// Beauty standards are constantly evolving and the fashion industry evolves with them. Lizzie Laughton compares Victoria Secret to Savage X Fenty to examine the changing scope of the lingerie market.

It was the infamous fashion show with supermodels from Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum to the Hadid sisters and Karlie Kloss. Featuring iconic performances from megastars like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Harry Styles, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show’s 5-year hiatus and plummeting sales were almost sudden.  

However, recent years saw many blows to the brand’s place as a lingerie superior. The image of ‘Fantasy’ and hourglass ‘Angels’ gradually became associated with exclusion, unrealistic body standards and a hypersexualised and misogynistic culture on and off the runway. By 2018, the Show's ratings had been in decline for five years, but comments made by its executive Ed Rayzek against including plus size and transgender models marked the final nail in the coffin for many consumers.  

2019 saw the launch of Rhianna's Savage x Fenty and a major shift in the lingerie market. The Fenty umbrella (no pun intended) made representation, diversity, and inclusivity more visible in the industry than they had ever been before. Its numerous fashion shows since 2019 demonstrate that sexiness and beauty can apply to ‘any-body’, not one mould.  

©Charlotte Pang

And many retailers decided to follow their example. 2023 saw Victoria’s Secret dusting off its wings, its Fashion Show returning as a feature-length film titled, ‘Tour 23’. The comeback turns the previous model on its head, coordinated by the diverse ‘VS Collective’ with the aim ‘to create revolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content, new internal associate programs and rally support for causes vital to women.  

The rebranding aims to distance Victoria's Secret from its old image, displaying collections from international independent artists instead of its own products and castings like plus-size model Paloma Ellesser, the brand’s first model with Downs Syndrome, Sofia Jirau, and transgender models Valentina Sampaio and Emira D’Spain.  

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This diversified scope is a welcome change. Yet despite these efforts, the show’s format itself still fell flat for some. Its heavy visually artistic approach, although a nice sentiment to showcase female artists, failed to display a new-found inclusivity of its products. Victoria’s Secret did not need to make a U-turn from the glitz, glamour, and confetti it was once renowned for, but rather acknowledge that this can exist within an inclusive, diverse, and empowering culture. Many critics likened the film to a shoddy copy of the Savage x Fenty show, with diversity and inclusion in the latter coming across as more an organic ethos than a PR jump.  

However, the brand has included more fringe sizes across collections and the ‘Full on Fabulous’ range, which includes sizes from 36C to 44D. Looking at Savage x Fenty’s popular green balconette bras, the product is not only modelled by 34C and 38DD models but is also available in 30-46 band sizes and A-G cups. A similar bra is available at Victoria’s Secret in similar sizes, from a 30-44 band and A-G cups. However, this broader selection of sizes does not come in as many styles as Savage x Fenty, and upon comparing both brands’ plus-size offerings, Savage x Fenty does appear to come out on top in terms of range.  

Another of Savage x Fenty's missions is to offer inclusive products at a reasonable price. The brand seems to achieve this through a membership scheme, where VIP members pay £49.95 a month towards store credit, payments they can opt to skip until the day before billing.   

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A post shared by SAVAGE X FENTY BY RIHANNA (@savagexfenty)

The VIP membership allows access to exclusive offers and launches and a 25% discount on all products. The bra mentioned above is priced at £50 for non-members but is currently part of a ‘2 bras for £24’ ‘Cyber month’ deal for VIP members.  

Although the Victoria’s Secret bra is not cheap at £39, it allows customers to spend as much or as impulsively as they like without fulfilling store credit while still offering deals such as 2 for £40 bras and 5 for £3 on knickers. 

In your opinion, which lingerie brand comes out on top in the Battle of the Bras?

Featured Image: Charlotte Pang