I’m always excited to go back home to London, England and browse the High Street stores, checking out the new retail window displays. One of my favourite shopping spots is Marks and Spencer’s on Oxford Street, where you can grab a delicious sandwich on the ground floor and then head straight up to the lingerie department. Knickers and food – a girl’s dream!
Unfortunately most Canadians may remember M&S as a pretty stodgy retailer, mainly catering to senior citizens and ex-pats, but in the UK M&S undies are an essential and surprisingly fashionable staple. Before the very recent days of “indie” lingerie retailers and websites M&S was the only place to buy quality lingerie. I don’t know any English woman who hasn’t purchased at least one M&S bra or panty in her lifetime!
In the 1930’s they were one of the first stores to sell “Artsilk” garments with their highly successful “Artificial Silk Rayon Knicker” (a slinky French Knicker). When nylon first appeared just after WW2 hosiery was still hard to come by so M&S started producing their own “St Michael” line of nylon stockings and slips. By the 1950’s they were selling many assorted lingerie and corsetry styles, even developing their own brand of easy-care nylon fabric called “Bri-nylon”.
In the 1980’s M&S underwear really hit it’s peak with vast areas of their shops dedicated to trendy fashion-led lingerie. They designed and engineered new bra technologies and in 2000 won The Queen’s Award for their “Secret Support Bra”, a highly specialized bra developed for DD-G cups featuring hidden reinforced cup “slings”.
Not all of their innovations have been so popular. In 2009 a large-breasted lobby group took on M&S over it’s new policy of charging more for bigger bras. They were forced to repeal this unpopular surcharge on DD cups or larger and posted a public apology in the nation’s newspapers. “They didn’t want a lot of big-breasted women storming their annual meeting”, said a spokeswoman for “Busts 4 Justice“.
Recently M&S have introduced the UK’s first ever Carbon Neutral Bra – the “Leaves” collection is certified by The Carbon Trust and helps support the deforestation of the Sri Lankan rainforest. The entire collection is manufactured in an eco-friendly plant constructed from earth bricks, it uses solar power energy and harvested rainwater. Take a look at our own Elita Bamboo collection of soft bras and panties which are manufactured in Canada – therefore reducing their carbon footprint – and from environmentally friendly bamboo fabric!
M&S’s laterst “Flatter Me” bra (launching next month) is inspired by the 1950’s hourglass silhouettes in Mad Men using old fashioned corsetry to smooth out any rolls and bulges. It looks quite extraordinary with it’s curved wings which eliminate any underarm bulges and boost the cleavage. The Triumph Full Fashion Strapless Diamond Jacquard Bra has a similar retro corsetry look and has perfect support worn under those cute little 50’s Mad Men dresses!
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
Thank you to marksandspencer.com for their images and their lingerie.
Lingerie images: Lingerie & Underwear : Women’s : Marks & Spencer
Flatter-me bra image from: The Daily Mail, April 9, 2011