I’ve refrained so far on commenting on one of the biggest headlines in the lingerie industry currently – Rihanna’s first lingerie collection release: Savage X Fenty. At first, it was because I wasn’t all that interested – I’ve never been one of those people who’s followed celebrities, so while I know names, songs and occasionally faces, their endorsements haven’t really rocked my world in the past. Then it was because there seems to be a lot of controversy around the new line. Personally, I don’t like to get caught up in all that, so I stayed away!
But being such a major move in the lingerie industry, I feel like it’s now time for me to comment. After all, we do profess to be a lingerie blog that comments on the industry from a consumer perspective! I don’t claim for my opinions to be professional in any way, having never worked directly in the industry, but I feel that the consumer perspective is something that really needs to be out there. So here I am!
So for the uninitiated, what is Savage X Fenty and why is everyone talking about it?
Savage X Fenty is an intimates collection designed by Rihanna in collaboration with Savage. It’s due to be launched on the 11th May with a size range of 32A to 44DDD and XS to 3X.
Bra sizes in marketing
A bit of background about where my opinion comes from first: over the past few years, my opinions on sizing in lingerie have gone back and forth. When I first got fitted into a size that fit me well, a 28GG compared to the 32DDs and 34Ds I was wearing, I was ALL about bra sizing. I wouldn’t wear anything that wasn’t vaguely near the size I’d been fitted into and I wanted everyone to know how bra sizing really worked. I was so passionate about helping everyone find their best size because it had made me feel so much more comfortable day-to-day (and anyone with a large cup size will know how important this is!) and happy with my body.
I now call this a “best size” or “better size” because I don’t believe that everyone is or has a bra size – it not only changes depending on brand, sizing charts and breast shape, but I personally now might wear what appears to be a poorly fitting bra just because I like the design or because it’s comfortable.
BUT, and that’s a big but, I strongly believe that everyone needs to understand how bra sizing works. That’s why I wrote this post all about what D cups look like. Because bra sizing is ridiculous and confusing. People have been led to believe in the past that a DD is the end of the bra sizing alphabet and anything bigger is porn star territory or fake. And I hate that myth being perpetuated. I can’t tell you the number of times that people have laughed in my face when they’ve heard I’m a GG (“They’re big, but not THAT big!”) or simply told me that size doesn’t exist.
But this isn’t about me! The reason I’m telling you this is because I’m kind of disappointed in the way that bra sizing has been portrayed by the Savage X Fenty campaign. I’m not picking this out to villainise the line in any way (because there are HUGE positives of it, read on!), but because someone has to stand up for causes or else nothing would change.
It’s just one line in this (otherwise AMAZING) video that particularly worried me:
— Rihanna (@rihanna) April 29, 2018
While I’ve already admitted to not following celebrities closely, I do strongly believe that their endorsements have HUGE influence. And Rihanna is most definitely a massive influence – look at those numbers! 83K likes and 22.8K people talking about that single tweet at the time of posting.
The point is that that influence needs to be used carefully, and if the first statement someone hears about the sizing range for this new line is that a DD in 8th grade is “really giant boobs”, it’s perpetuating that myth. I was wearing a 34DD from La Sense in 8th grade (Year 9 in the UK, I believe) because it was the largest cup size I could find. And I was uncomfortable. I remember the pain of straps digging into my shoulders and cups spilling over. I remember tugging the cups up every 10 minutes just so that I wouldn’t be exposing myself under the thin shirts we wore. I really should have been in a 28FF or 28G at that point, but these weren’t readily available then, and no one knew to tell me that sizes above a DD existed.
Even worse, I was hugely self-conscious about my body. If I’d known I was not only above a DD, but a FF or G, and heard someone say that a DD was “really giant boobs”, that would have absolutely killed what little confidence I had. Breast size isn’t something we can control, and it’s not something we can hide either. I already knew my breast size was larger than the average; I didn’t need to hear that it was giant.
But having said all that, I want to say something else: despite my qualms with the marketing behind the new line, I’m actually really really pleased that Rihanna is releasing this campaign. And for a number of reasons:
It’s bringing intimates to the forefront so that they aren’t something hidden away. It’s giving a voice, a name and a face to the industry. For so long, lingerie has been locked away and having a huge celebrity behind it has everyone talking about lingerie, just like they do about Kylie Jenner’s make up collections. It’s making lingerie itself something accessible.
It’s promoting diversity in the lingerie industry. It’s tricky for us to talk about this, being white, middle class women in the UK, but the flip side is that we can use what influence we have too. When you’re scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, lingerie catalogues or websites, it’s easy to see that the standard body lingerie is seen on is white and sample-sized. While there’s no debating that Rihanna is a pretty standard sample size, she’s also Barbadian. With so much call for nude underwear of every colour to be available in the lingerie industry, this is a place that Rihanna can truly make waves. It’s celebrities and big companies that can really start to sway the industry and make movements happen, but even just seeing her as the face of the campaign is a huge start, and the fact that the models in the videos appear to be of all shapes, sizes and races is amazing. I’m excited to see more imagery from the line.
And finally, actually the size range is pretty huge! Despite the fact that I have an issue with the way that DD+ sizes are being referred to in the marketing, Savage X Fenty’s size range is really quite awesome: 32A to 44DDD. While some of the larger band sizes appear to begin at B, C or D, that’s still 34 separate sizes. A collection from a new high street brand often runs from 32A to 36D, sometimes smaller – only 12 sizes – so this is already nearly 3 times as many. In addition, their drop down also gives the option to choose “other” which at least shows they’re recognising that there are other sizes out there, and with people choosing the “other” option, there’s the potential (I hope!) for a size expansion in future.
You really need to give credit to the fact that they’re including band sizes that are regarded as plus size in a brand new collection, particularly from a brand that doesn’t normally create lingerie. You also need to bear in mind how bra sizing works – it’s 3 dimensional. In fact, it’s practically 4 dimensional! The band size is the 3D part – you need to create a band that goes around a 3 dimensional body. On top of that, you need the cups – cups that add another 3D shape on top of a 3D shape. And cups aren’t all just one shape either! While a 34DDD is a sister size of a 40C, meaning that they have the same volume, the shape will be very different – more on that another day!
Suffice to say that, even without sub-32 bands and DDD+ sizes, to fit all those different sizes in a new collection is pretty awesome.
And a final word, from the previews we’ve been given, it’s difficult to say what exactly the collection incorporates in terms of style and design, but that bodysuit Rihanna is wearing in the Instagram post above is pretty fabulous!
So basically, I’m looking forward to seeing more as well as how this collection starts to shape the industry in the upcoming months. If you want to read more thoughts on the collection and what we know so far, head over to The Lingerie Addict where lingerie superstar and guru, Cora, has written all about it.