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Curve NY 2024 forecast delivers strong outlook for athleisure and shapewear

By Jackie Mallon


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Shapewear on show at Curve NY Credits: Curve NY

At February’s Curve NY, the largest lingerie trade show in North America, over 150 international brands not only in lingerie, but in loungewear, active and swim descended on the Javits Center to present their latest innovations. The show welcomed retail buyers and industry tastemakers with opportunities to create new business, discover upcoming designers, network, attend bra-fitting workshop and enjoy exclusive events.

Strappy and lace style on show at Curve NY Credits: Curve NY

While the stagewear of Beyonce’s Renaissance world tour and Taylor Swift’s Eras tour impacted fashion trends across lingerie, as well as the explosion of the color pink from the movie Barbie, specific trends that were spotted on the exhibition floor included strappy bodysuits, metallic details, bright colors, nude basics for every skin tone, and intricately detailed, hand-made lace pieces. Along with returning favorites like Wacoal, Natori, Chantelle, Elomi, and Gossard, there were 30 new and emerging brands exhibiting at last month’s event including London-based Scarlett Gasque whose founder, Chloé Rogers, told FashionUnited, “Our big markets currently are Switzerland, Las Vegas and the UK but it’s interesting to hear the different responses. We’re just in from showing in Paris which was great but New York is immediately all about orders.”

Beaded loungewear at Curve NY Credits: Curve NY


According to data from market research firm Circana who presented their findings at the fair, customers continue to have a “treat mindset,” with lingerie one of the categories that benefits from this. The 12 billion dollar lingerie industry is experiencing a normalization of demand with December 2023 resembling December 2020, and while 2024 will mostly be about stabilization, experts predict a return to growth for 2025. A shift towards attainable luxury items and away from general apparel which has seen a 58 percent decline last year sees the most successful brands tapping into innovation, with Skims leading the charge. Experts attribute the desirability of the shapewear brand founded by Kim Kardashian, which has experienced double digit growth, to its sophisticated color palette, great silhouette and fit, likening its function to what beauty products do for the face. On the downside, shapewear has a long replenishment cycle. Period panties grew 100 percent last year, representing another area in which innovation and problem solving drove the spending.

Athleisure on display at Curve NY Credits: Curve NY


Levers of growth in the strong leisurewear market are breathability, odor elimination and, of course, comfort. The simple removal of details like drawstrings on waistbands can represent a significant uptick in sales. Sports bras were an area of growth last year with some styles looking increasingly like designer bras with bonded seams and complex detailing. For example, Nike’s Alate Minimalist bra could sit readily next to Natori’s Bliss Perfection. Lululemon continues to dominate the field so it is no surprise the brand is expanding into adjacent categories that make sense such as puffer coats and cross body bags.

Collabs and logo merch

Sports features in athleisure’s success as growth in NFL merch has been driven by women. There is an excitement around sport, some of which can be pinned on Taylor Swift’s relationship with Travis Kelce, but also world cup champion Lionel Messi joining Inter Miami led to an explosion in soccer top sales. Skims has strategically featured sports celebrities in its advertising as it enters the men's market.

Intricate lace style at Curve NY Credits: Addy.Media for Curve NY

Tepid optimism

Circana’s data shows that specialty stores like Victoria’s Secret and Aerie suffered the most in 2023. The time-starved consumer prefers to shop in Costco, on Amazon or Sam’s Club, picking up her intimates at the same time as her groceries and other sundries. Gen X represents the biggest spend and while there has been a hollowing out of the middle of the market, customers earning under 50k continued buying lingerie at Walmart and Target, while those with an income over 200k were buying brands typically represented at Curve.

Tepid optimism is the reigning mood for 2024. According to data, brand loyalty is a myth and brands would do well to understand where else their customer shops. Experts advise the following strategies for growth: Be where she goes; Combine comfort and beauty; Get out of your merchandising comfort zone and expand assortment - but without sacrificing DNA.

Model wearing lingerie at Curve NY Credits: Curve NY
Curve NY