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NYC trade fair Curve highlights rising menswear lingerie and online presence

By Alissa Schumacher


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Curve New York, January 2023. Image: FashionUnited

New York City hosted the trade fair Curve this week, presenting the latest trends in the lingerie industry and showcasing the demand for expanding retailers’ online presence and menswear category.

The event, held from February 5 to 7 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, was attended by retailers, designers, manufacturers, and industry experts from all over the world. The three-day trade fair provides a platform for the industry to showcase its latest collections and foster valuable business relationships. This year’s event featured a wide range of lingerie products, including bras, panties, shapewear, and sleepwear. Visitors were able to see, touch, and try on the styles from over 200 exhibitors.

Curve celebrates upbeat edition

According to Grand View Research, the size of the global lingerie market was valued at USD 85.96 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow, driven by several factors such as a growing millennial population and increasing spending power. As the demand and popularity of underwear from both women and men have been on the rise for several years in the US, Curve is seen as the place to connect experts and move the entire industry forward.

The fair was well received by the industry, which praised its organization, the quality of the products, and the valuable networking opportunities it provided. Exhibitors reported strong sales and interest from buyers, and many expressed their intention to return for the next event.

“Curve is the place where everyone goes,”

stated Adrienne Stewart from the LA-based brand Gordon. “We’re looking to open up new stores and Curve is the right place to start.“

Well-known brands like Aubade, Chantelle, and Leonisa as well as up-and-coming designers like the Columbian sleepwear brand Isayes Lencería y Pijamas presented their latest collections. German brand Falke showed their excitement about being part of Curve by stating: “We are more than pleased to show our products here in New York City to many international experts.” The brand said it attended the event to build relationships with potential retail partners.

One of the highlights of the trade fair was the panel and workshop series, where industry experts shared their insights and knowledge on the latest trends and challenges facing the lingerie industry. Topics ranged from navigating retail success to the expansion of the menswear category.

Another popular aspect of the trade fair was the Boudoir show, which presented the latest lingerie collections from Roma Confidential, Aubade Paris, Chantelle X, and Carol Coelho. Award-winning performer and actress ‘Pearls Daily’ performed and modeled in the latest lingerie and trends, including lace, cotton, nylon, and silk. Designers created items for diverse purposes by using luxurious fabrics, embroidery, and lace. Additionally, one-piece and seamless apparel were popular designs as they provide a natural look. Driven by the body positivity trend, shapewear was also integrated in many collections.

The importance of a strong online voice

The event started with a discussion about retail successes in 2023. Industry expert Gilbert Russell interviewed three store owners about how to boost existing customer purchases, win new customers, and improve sales. The Panellists Larisa Olson, Shelly Domenech, and Debbie Donelle shared innovative ideas and strategies to increase sales and profitability.

“Your best salespeople are your current customers,” Russel commented on the most effective ways for retail success in the lingerie industry. “We can’t be boring nowadays.” He suggested increasing profitability through the importance of a unique differentiation factor and a strong online voice by building sales through existing customers.

“My mission is to make women feel better in their body,”

said Debbie Donelle, founder of the bra-fitting boutique Lingerie Debra. She shared the importance of personalized services in the industry, giving the example of birthday offers which she described as “simple and affordable to manage.” She added that educating customers online through videos, social media, and emails is another way to build strong relationships with customers.

With over 30 years of experience in the lingerie business, Shelly Domenech offers shoppers a selection of lingerie, sleepwear, and loungewear with her own brand I. C. London. She explained the reward and referral system as a success driver for her business while offering incentives to donate bras.

“Keep your store elevated so that people return and see your store as an escape from their troubles,”

stated Larisa Olson, founder of Chantilly Lace. She focuses on offering customers an exclusive place in her store by creating a personalized retail experience. Sending out exclusive mailings and following an unconventional way of marketing by sharing the unfiltered version of herself and her life on Instagram was a huge step for the business. She discovered that “customers want to be a part of the community and an active part of the business”. Olson suggests brands “not be afraid to go that extra mile” within the lingerie industry because “making yourself vulnerable is the most important thing you can do.” By that, she means finding a unique way to communicate to customers and always staying true to the brand.

After the panel, the workshop ‘Fit Focus’ was hosted by brands Elomi, Freya, Fantasie, and Goddess who informed participants about finding the perfect bra fit through a one-hour class teaching them hands-on fitting techniques in order to better improve their ability to help and advise customers in their stores.

The growth of menswear lingerie

The final day was introduced by another panel discussion about the value of introducing men’s lingerie in stores. Moderated by Kimmay Caldwell from Hurray Media, the speakers Roman Sipe, Ty Hunter, Sonya Davie, Jazmin Ingraham, and Billy Procida talked about implementation strategies of men’s lingerie to welcome all genders. The panel made the integration of men as new customers clear and described this new direction as “revolutionizing” within the lingerie industry. Due to an increase in salary as well as a growing interest in branded products, men's demand for lingerie is on the rise. The shift in focus by both men and women towards lingerie products to enhance their natural beauty also contributed to the growth.

According to Persistent Market Research, the US is expected to act as a leader in the men’s underwear market. Although there are many US brands and manufacturers, the industry is highly competitive and expected to grow significantly. Products range from regular briefs, boxer briefs, shorts, trunks, and thongs.

In the women’s intimate apparel industry, bras have the highest dollar volume, followed by sleepwear. Intima Media Group presented best-selling brands, trends, and styles as a result of a survey of hundreds of stores. This season, wearing lingerie to enhance daily outfits is a rising trend as bodysuits are worn underneath blazers for example. Another noticeable trend is travel looks that combine items that can be worn to the beach and to the bar. Curve also highlighted body positivity as still an increasingly important topic in the industry as many brands offered a wide range of sizes and fulfilled different needs. Lastly, lingerie looks for spring 2023 are bras as tops, lace bodysuits, bonings, and no pants following the motto “less is more”.

The next edition of Curve New York will take place from July 30 until August 1 and is expected to attract as many brands as this season's event.

Curve New York, January 2023. Image: FashionUnited
Curve New York, January 2023. Image: FashionUnited
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