Undressed: A brief history of underwear | Avery Dennison

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Undressed: A brief history of underwear

The launch of our Intimates and Socks Market Insight coincides with the recent opening of the exhibition Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at the V&A Museum in London. I was eager to see how underwear has evolved since the 18th century, and found that our intimates say more about society than you would think. Naturally, I had my eye on the branding and packaging elements of the show, which gave me an intriguing insight into attitudes toward the ideal body image and how it reflects the fashions of an era.

An interesting example was this corset for cycling. As women became more active in sports in the late 19th century, sport-specific corsets were made to allow more freedom for movement. Interestingly, the print on the box shows how little women actually modified their dress for activities like cycling.

Over the 20th century, as we loosened up, and much of the advertising and packaging became directed at both men and women wanting to look and feel their sexiest. Later, brands like Acne Studios play a role in the shift toward gender-neutral apparel with packaging that looks premium and modern in neutral colors, a product that today feels like the norm.

About Amy Lee, Trends and Insights Specialist, Avery Dennison RBIS
Based in London, Amy is often found at the most influential arts and fashion events, trade shows and store launches. A Northern girl from Cheshire, England, she has been known to take her own Yorkshire tea bags around the world with her!

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