If the whole February 14th, Valentine's Day thing is your jam, then it's likely that this is the time of year when you go all out when shopping for lingerie. Like much of the fashion industry, the bra and underwear market appears to be at crossroads, shifting before our very eyes. Once upon a time, the majority of searches for cheeky, silky, lace underwear and über push-up bras ultimately lead to Victoria's Secret. However, in recent years, there has been explosion Internet brand launches, making way for a new generation of undergarments.
At the same time, there's also been an increasing demand for diversity and inclusivity in fashion — a need that has never been absent, but is only now beginning to be met. After calls to support more Black-owned brands came about during a widespread movement beginning in June 2020, a laundry list of talent was revealed, including lingerie brands that had long been suppressed by a white-dominated industry.
The need for representation is especially unique where lingerie is concerned. Take, for instance, the overall lack of 'nude' toned undergarments available for women of various shades of brown. Simultaneously, the same brands are also tackling other areas of the fashion industry that continue to need addressing, such as size inclusivity.
As you're loading up on new pieces to wear under your robe this Valentine's Day season (or literally any time of year), you may want to start with brands that are hitting all the marks. Ahead, we've compiled a list of 11 Black-owned lingerie brands to shop, ASAP. And, to top it all off, you're just in time to catch a nice discount and some newly dropped items, too.
Founder Evangeline Poku tells InStyle that Azaira Intimates began out of her quest for lingerie that was both beautiful and tailored to the fuller-busted woman. Relaunched in 2020, the brand brings quality intimate-wear to a widely forgotten market, exploring the intricate world of lingerie with delicate fabrics and 24-karat gold-plated accents.
Shop now: Azaira Intimates
At first glance, founder Destiney Bleu's pivot from NBA and NFL dancer to lingerie designer sounds unlikely, but according to her, the connection is actually the foundation of her brand values.
"[We have] some items that are more delicate, but since my line started with a focus on performers who wear items multiple times and are quite rough in them, that's where our standards stay," she tells us of the brand's attention to durable quality. The line isn't just for performers, though — d.bleu.dazzled's crystal embellished sets and bodysuits are just as enjoyable in the comfort of your own home.
Shop now: d.bleu.dazzled
The exploration of romance is at the heart of New York-based brand Anya Lust, which creates pieces that employ a sultry, moody aesthetic. The selection of lingerie ranges from traditional teddies to catsuits, bondage sets, and luxe kimonos. The brand even has a special Valentine's Day edit to ensure you're well prepared for the holiday.
Shop now: Anya Lust
Savage X Fenty
Can you even talk lingerie these days without mentioning Rihanna's industry-shifting Savage X Fenty? The brand set standards in an industry known to exclusively promote one body type, using its platform to instead champion women of color, curvy women, and transgender women. Of course, the brand delivers in product as well, selling enough confidence-boosting lingerie sets (in a wide range of sizes!) to last you Valentine's Days to come, as well as ultra-comfy everyday sets to wear after your celebration is through.
Shop now: Savage X Fenty
After a two-year inception period, Nude Barre launched in 2011 with the mission of combatting the idea of beige as nude.
"I mainly started Nude Barre based on embarrassing moments I had when I was required to have flesh-toned undergarments, tights, and shoes as a dancer," founder Erin Carpenter tells InStyle, adding that at the time, she was forced to dye her undergarments to suit her skin tone. Visit the brand's site, and you're met with a three-step quiz to find the best underwear shade out of the 12 the brand offers. From seamless panties to boy shorts and fishnet stockings, Nude Barre is just about all you need in your top drawer.
Shop now: Nude Barre
Lace and frills first spring to mind at the thought of lingerie, but should you be craving something edgier, check out Blue Reign. The London brand offers its predominantly leather lingerie selection up to a size UK 16, and 38 J in bra sizes. Of course, you won't miss out on those traditionally feminine details, either; its vintage-inspired floral patterns are one to add-to-cart ASAP.
Shop now: Blue Reign
The Underargument's approach to lingerie feels minimal, raw, and intimate with a mostly neutral selection of black, burgundy and olive green designs that feature unexpected mesh placements. In addition to its role of encouraging individuality and pushing against the norm, sustainability is next in line as a brand priority. The company takes on production with a slow-fashion approach, and commits to minimal packaging that either is recycled or can be recycled.
Shop now: The Underargument
You may know Nubian Skin as the brand that has essentially perfected lingerie and loungewear for multiple skin tones. Founder Ade Hassan MBE reveals to InStyle that the brand stemmed from a need for better undergarment and hosiery options during her time in the corporate space, when she was seeking out tights to wear under professional skirts and bras to pair with slightly sheer shirts. Recently, alongside the release of a new champagne-colored slip dress, the brand welcomed men's garments into its permanent collection after an influx of requests for undershirts and briefs.
Shop now: Nubian Skin
This Los Angeles-based lingerie brand is one to keep your eye on. Grounded in removing industry-imposed limits, the company focuses heavily on body positivity and size inclusivity.
"When [women] see our campaigns, they see themselves instead of the 'ideal' beauty standards that we've all seen in fashion for so long," founder Vera Moore tells us. The brand is also known to highlight women of color, offering an array of lacy lingerie in various nude shades, but at the same time, sells a ton of vibrant designs in shades of red, pink, and blue.
Shop now: Love, Vera
Just about nothing looks as comfortable as Proclaim's everyday unpadded and wireless bralette and briefs (which are made from sustainable fabric Tencel™, TYSM). The perfectly curated selection is exactly what you want to live in during quarantine. Plus, it's clear that the brand's goal is to shift the definition of 'nude;' the Everyday Collection comes in four neutral shades.
Shop now: Proclaim
If "cottagecore" and "sensual" came together, the result would be Shecurve. The UK brand launched in late 2020 with an ivory-toned capsule of silk bodysuits, slip dresses, bralettes and more, available in up to a size 16.
Shop now: Shecurve
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