London - Ladies who dislike thongs or g-strings rejoice, as the return of larger underwear (read more covering and comfortable intimate wear) commonly known as 'granny' panties has begun. As a new generation of women across the globe discover the joys of full-bottom underwear, the demand for exposing thongs and g-strings has declined.
Although it may have taken female consumers years to accept fuller style underwear back into their wardrobes again, similar to the iconic over-sized pants worn by Renee Zellweger in the 2001 film version of Bridget Jones Diary, big knickers are back in style again. "Within millennial and Generation Y consumer groups, it’s considered cool to be wearing full-bottom underwear," said Bernadette Kissane, an apparel analyst at the market research firm Euromonitor International to the New York Times. "Thongs have had their moment." Her statement is supported by data from US research firm NPD Group: thong sales have decreased 7 percent over the past year, whilst sales of more generous covering underwear, such as briefs, boy shorts and high-waisted pants has grown 17 percent.
Full-bottom underwear is deemed 'cool' once more
G-strings and thongs first became popular in the UK during the Nineties, as more female consumers sought out smaller underpants to solve the issues faced when wearing low-cut skinny or hipster jeans, which do not allow much room for underwear in general. However thanks to the resurgence of denim styles such as the boyfriend and the high waisted mom jeans (praised by the likes of Chloe Sevigny and Alexa Chung) women appear to be gravitating towards more generous covering underwear designs. The return of 'granny' pants has also been herold by feminists around the world who are choosing to don large underwear in response to standardized ideals of female sexuality attributed to thongs and g-strings.
"Most lingerie is designed to appeal to a man," explained Julia Baylis, co-founder of boutique fashion label Me and You and self-proclaimed fan of the 'granny panties'. "For us, that’s not even a consideration. This is underwear you wear totally for you. Maybe no one will see it, or maybe you'll put it up on Instagram to share with everyone you know. What’s sexy for us is being natural and comfortable." Created with Mayan Toledano the brand offers t-shirts, dresses and underwear, with their best seller being a pair of plain cotton briefs with the word 'feminist' printed in bold pink letters across the bum that has been sold out since it's launch in April.
Whilst some traditional lingerie companies have been slower to accept the return of fuller-style underwear, high street retailer Marks & Spencer, which is said to sell at least 60 million pairs off underpants every year, confirmed to the Independent that thongs are on decline. "Today less than one in 10 of the knickers we sell is a thong," revealed a spokesperson. "This shape is decreasing in popularity as women are falling in love with shapes like the Brazilian as a no-visible panty line alternative, or choosing styles like the leg-lengthening high leg, or fuller shapes such as the midi."
And it is not just the mainstream lingerie companies witnessing a change of tides. "There has been a surge in the sale of 'bigger knickers' over the past six months for us," said Sarah Shotton, creative director for high end lingerie label Agent Provocateur. "Although thongs are still popular, larger-style briefs have been selling out across our stores." With even the more affluent female consumer choosing bigger styled undergarments over thongs, it seems as if former claims that women are selecting their underwear based on status also do not hold water any more.
With the UK's share of the global lingerie market accounting for 30.7 billion pounds in 2015 according to just-style.com, it is only a matter of time before more retailers embrace the return of the 'granny panties', albeit more colorful and fancy versions than favoured by Bridget.