Baring All The Rise

Hemlines, trouser shapes and sleeve lengths change seasonally, but it takes a little longer for the exposure of a previously covered area to be adopted by the mainstream. Backless, hipster and plunge find themselves returning to trend far less frequently than easier to wear shapes. But there’s one reveal which has made it to rapid success: where did the midriff suddenly spring from?

The exposed midriff has a celebrity endorsement of the highest pedigree, having seen red carpet outings on Gwyneth Paltrow, Rooney Mara, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lopez and Solange Knowles. A mixed bunch, appealing to a broad assortment of customers. And then there’s Rihanna, who can’t keep her abs in for love nor money (and why would she?!): given her 85 million online followers, there’s a fair few eyeballs on her sartorial choices.

But from where did the trend stem? And once it’s taken away from the honed and toned A-list bods, does it actually sell to the masses? Are consumers willing to part with their cash and parade their ribcages? Examining the data, we expose more than a little flesh.

Look back a year ago to that stellar Stella McCartney collection from Autumn/Winter 2011/12, which graced a mind-boggling number of magazine covers and a-listers and you’ll spot the exposed midriffs of Kate Winslet, Kate Hudson and Jane Fonda amongst the acres of black and streamlined frocks. In the same season, cool kids Carven were up to flashing tricks with their twill tartan cutaway dress. Shown in February 2011, it didn’t take long for highstreet retailers to react; very quickly stomach-baring cutaways appeared on the bodycon dresses they were offering. So where are we now? What’s selling and to who?

Let’s first look at Rih Rih’s preferred flesh flasher: the bralet. A relatively new garment to the fashion scene, it’s easy to see consumers latching onto the terminology and their sentiment towards the piece grows. Sentiment towards the garment ran high following the September SS12 shows, but volume of chatter was still low. Fashion insiders were raving about what they’d seen at Dolce & Gabbana but the consuming public wasn’t yet onboard. When the high street versions arrived in March, volume of chatter soared and has continued building over the summer, with sales still benefitting.

Within the last six weeks there have been success stories across the high street. For Topshop, this comes in the form of their 18 studded bralet, sold out in four of six sizes in just over a month. Studding works; ASOS triumphed with their leather-look studded bralet by Hearts & Bows. At 24.99, the garment arrived online on the 3rd August and was out of stock of all five sizes a month later. Meanwhile New Look’s girlier Parisian floral bralet at 8 sold out completely in a month.

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