My first trip to Curvexpo was pretty good. Most of the brands were only too happy to chat with the press (Claudette, Curvy Kate, and Le Mystère especially), though some were…less than friendly. Panache USA was oddly eager to get rid of me even though there were three reps sitting at the booth doing absolutely nothing. In Part 1 of this post, I’m going to focus on trends I gleaned from the show; in Part 2, I answer some of the specific questions we received in the comments here on Hourglassy. There’s even a Part 3 for a blast of an attitude that will—hopefully—soon be far in the past.

Part 1: Trends for D+ and -28

First off, I was shocked by the number of manufacturers whose bras go up to an F or G cup. I was expecting to find only the usual suspects offering anything above D, but I was pleasantly surprised! Though F and G really aren’t that big a cup size in the grand scheme of things (especially when you’re talking sub-36 bands), it tells me

  • manufacturers are finally recognizing that the alphabet does not stop at D (or DDD),
  • that those letters are not set in stone (but rather, are contingent upon the band number), and
  • that sizes beyond D are something that consumers are making clear they want to buy.

Likewise, I was also pleasantly surprised by how many brands offer 30 bands, or are at least testing it out with one or two models. We’re still a long way away from regular 28 bands, much less 26 or 24, but even an increase in 30 bands proves that manufacturers are finally recognizing the need for an expanded size range.

In fact, while some manufacturers told me they have never received feedback from customers or retailers asking for smaller bands (a Betsey Johnson intimates rep said there are no plans to expand the size range because “the ones we have work so well” [that would be 32+ and no bigger than DDD]), there are store owners who are in tune with their customers and are paying attention. At the Bra La Mode inaugural Intimate Affair on January 29, for example, Bra*Tenders owner Alan Kaplan commented on the large number of women with 28 backs that they fit. And at Curve, one highly respected Manhattan storeowner told Darlene, “Whenever I see 28’s, I buy them. It is the most underserved market.”

This is a long and photo-heavy post, so click below to read the rest…


Here are the brands I discovered that offer sub-32 bands and/or DDD+ cups:

Sub-32 & DDD+

Mimi Holliday 28-40 AA-GG. Features fabulous bright colors and delicate lace.


Addiction Nouvelle Lingerie 30-42 A-F. Simple, elegant design. I loved this royal blue bra.

Valery 30-40 A-E. Really stunning, boudoir-style intimates with a distinctly retro feel.

Being U 28-46 D-H. Nude bras for women of color, plus some nice brights with an awesome photorealistic feather print. Read more below.


Next season’s new feather colorway. Loooooove it!


[un: usual]
30-44 B-H. A German brand with cute basics that have great sophisticated details. Check out the feather in the gore on this one.


Le Mystère 30-44 A-H. Limited 30s. Basic bras with really special details. They had an amazing low-backed bustier-style strapless (the Soirée). Would be so perfect for backless dresses. But starts at a 32 band, sadly (goes up to a G cup, though!).

Love love love the lace back! This one has a front closure.


Prima Donna and Marie Jo 30+ and up to G. They wouldn’t let me photograph anything.

Undressed by Marlies Dekkers
30+ and up to F. These were fabulous. Such interesting design and bright colors. Unfortunately, only one bra goes down to 30 and it comes in black and tan only. But if the 30 sells well enough, they’ll start offering more. Buy buy buy!

So many colors and interesting strap decorations!


Why why why can’t these come in smaller bands???

The singular 30 band. BORING! Even their maternity bra was more interesting than this. It was black, but it had the fun straps criss-crossing over the cleavage.


Anita Active 30-40 B-H. Cute sports bras. The one on the mannequin really caught my eye, but it only starts at 32. One model comes in 30, and the rep I spoke with said the brand is “trending more and more to 30 bands.”

The 30 band. At least it’s silver and not boring black!


Kris Line
28-50 A-N. Best find of the day! Read more below.


DDD+

True Intimates 32-40 AA-F. Nudes in six shades and lots of different styles. Read more below.

Blush 32-38 A-F. They had a display of beautiful jewel green bras with black lace overlay (sorry, no photos).

Piège
32-38 A-G. French lingerie (sorry, no photos).

The biggest takeaway that I got from the show was that customers make the biggest difference. The more we request expanded sizes, the more they become available. The best thing you can possibly do is to request your size—over and over. Whether that’s in-store or through an email sent directly to a manufacturer, the more you request it, the more likely it is that you’ll see it on store shelves. I left the show with a whole list of brands that I want to contact to tell them that I love their designs, but wish they came in more sizes so I could wear them.

Part 2: Questions from Readers about Sub-32 Maternity Bands and Nude Diversity

As for the questions we received in our comments, the two that stood out most to me regarded maternity bras in sub-32 bands and “nude” bras in anything other than light beige and ivory.

I didn’t have that much luck with maternity bras. While the manufacturers I spoke with had cup ranges that went as high as I, the bands all started at 32. However, Kris Line, with which I was only just barely familiar prior to Curvexpo, had the best, best, best maternity options. Almost all the Kris bras start at a 28 band, with some going up to 50; and cups start at A and go up to N (in some styles). What a range! Their designs were very pretty, and not at all matronly even in the larger cups sizes (you can see the collections at krisline.com). As for the maternity bras, they simply took some of the more utilitarian models such as the Brilliant and the Fortuna, and gave them opening panels for breast-feeding—in the same sizes as the non-maternity version. A line of maternity bras in the same sizes as the regular bras? What a concept!

I was slightly more successful in my search for non-beige bras, finding two companies devoted to nothing but darker nudes.

True Intimates was a bit limited in sizes (32-40 AA-F), but they told me if a retailer asked for a 30 or 28 band, and wanted to order enough of them, it could be accommodated. There are six colors ranging from ivory to dark chocolate, and they name each color after a type of tree (clever!). Plus there are seven different bra styles and six different panties. It’s a truly versatile line.


The other non-beige brand was Being U. This brand had the best catalog/press kit out of all the booths I visited! It included a little booklet with two levels; the top level is the bra colors and the bottom skin colors. You can turn the pages of both levels to compare fabric to skin to see how the fabric would look against your own coloring. So clever!

The line is geared toward black women, a demographic too often neglected in the lingerie industry. They offer five shades that complement a range of darker skin tones, plus some snazzy, photorealistic feather prints, in four bra styles. The color names are kind of awkward and non-descriptive, though (yam, Sudan, and saffron? Not exactly a consistent theme…). They also offer matching panties, and pajamas and silk kimono robes.




Part 3:  Some Things Haven’t Changed . . . Yet

As for those companies that were less than enthusiastic, one in particular (which shall remain nameless) was so incredibly rude and uninformed that it was comical. Not only did she insist that I’m actually a C or D cup (ha!), but she also claimed that F cups are the size of beach balls, then didn’t believe me when I said an F with a 34 band is not the same as an F with a 28 band. It’s very frustrating when even manufacturers don’t know the facts. Oh, and at one point she stated, “I make bras, you just write about them” (rude!), then within 30 seconds made another comment about me “not wearing a bra 10 years ago” (um…I’m pretty sure I was wearing a bra at age 17; I think this was a none-too-subtle jab at what she perceived to be my young age). Ouch! But happily, these kinds of people are the exception, not the rule; and as American consumers better understand bra sizing, brands that refuse to cater to more than 32-38 A-D will simply go out of business.

Coming Up

Check back next Friday for some of the exciting new items I found for the upcoming seasons, plus updates on familiar brands like Curvy Kate, Parfait by Affinitas, Claudette, Eveden, and others. Lastly, on an unrelated note, I’ll be tweeting the Oscars red carpet coverage this Sunday—with a focus on boobs of course! Will we see breasts squished to high heaven à la Christina Hendricks, or perfectly supported like Scarlett Johansson’s 2006 Golden Globes red sheath with the built-in bra? I’ll be tagging #Hourglassy in all the posts. Follow my thoughts on @twingomatic!