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Why the 'bralette' is a problem for Victoria's Secret

For Victoria’s Secret, the bralette is a threat. For those of you more familiar with WonderBras and T-shirt bras, the bralette is a hybrid of a lingerie-like bra and a sports bra.

Charcy Evers, a retail strategist, says it’s popular because it has “comfort and ease, with the elegance, feel and sexiness of traditional lingerie.” The trend goes back to 2013, when designers were showing lots of sheer clothing on the runway.

“[It] was born out of necessity,” says Evers. As such, they are meant to be seen underneath or peaking out of clothing.

Victoria’s Secret is playing catch-up in the bralette business.

Bralettes are so easy to make that almost any retailer can do it, and that’s become a big problem for L-Brands’ Victoria’s Secret (LB), which was late to the trend, said Evers. And that’s given everyone from teen retailers like American Eagle’s Aerie and Hollister’s Gilly Hicks to direct-to-consumer names like Lively the opportunity to chip away at the market dominance of Victoria’s Secret, which maintains 60% of the lingerie market. VS’s bralette woes are heightened by weak mall traffic and the surge in online shopping.

L Brand’s stock hit a new 52-week low this week of $43.04.

Now that even Costco is selling bralettes, is the trend on the way out? Evers says no. She thinks the bralette is part of a larger trend in fashion toward function and comfort. Instead of fading away, the bralette is actually expanding its reach, she says. Lively just launched the Busty Bralette to capture even more body types.