One of the effects of the fast-fashion boom over the past two decades is that underwear has become almost disposable, like razors.
It’s an odd paradox: swamped with cheap and cheaply made imports, women are buying more underwear than ever before, but spending less on it and hanging on to almost none of it.
As a result, some young women have forgotten how to dress themselves properly. Why fuss to find the correct foundation layer when you have drawers filled with throwaway pieces that are probably good for one more wear?
But there’s a corresponding backlash against that nonchalant trend, a fact that has given new life to some heritage brands and kept professional bra fitters in business.
And it also helps explain the growing popularity and influence of one Toronto lingerie label that has bucked the fast-fashion trend to focus on the timeless art of dressing women well.
Fortnight Lingerie, which introduced two new collections last week, has built an enviable reputation in a few short years by ignoring fads and focusing on craftsmanship, product quality and figure-flattering fit. The result: exceptionally well-made garments that Liz Taylor would probably love if she were still with us and still 25.
“We are trying to encourage women to embrace a classic, functional element into dressing,” Fortnight founder Christina Remenyi told Lingerie Talk. “But more so, we’re passionate about reclaiming the craft of classic lingerie.”
With its popular longline bras, figure-shaping high-waisted pants and body-con slips, Fortnight manages to seem both hip and old-fashioned at the same time. It’s not really a retro label — many Fortnight pieces rely on power fabrics barely dreamed of a decade ago — but there’s a conscious effort here to recapture the quality standards of a bygone era.
“We produce our garments in very much the same way as they did in the ’40s and ’50s,” Christina said. “We use similar machines, and techniques, but have incorporated more modern materials and silhouettes.” (That’s Christina above in her Toronto atelier.)
Last year, Fortnight decided to buck another industry trend by ditching the merry-go-round of seasonal collections — which can exhaust young brands quickly — and present one new collection annually. And they almost stuck to that plan.
The two new sets from Fortnight include the brand’s 2014 range and a mini-collection for the 2013 holiday season, which dresses up some Fortnight classics in Santa-friendly colorways.
What’s most distinctive about both collections, though, is how closely they stick to the aesthetic signatures that Fortnight has been working on since its debut in 2010.
You’ll find variations, often using newer fabrics, for familiar Fortnight silhouettes in the Mira, Vera and Luna ranges. And for 2014 the same styles appear in a selection of new color combinations.
What you won’t find are radical new directions: Fortnight’s braintrust (Christina and Alison Chown) are focused on perfecting a catalogue of classic pieces that it can keep in stock as the seasons change. Which also means that some ideas never make it into production and some earlier styles, such as casual lounging pieces, aren’t found in the new batch.
“Our belief is that less is more,” Christina said. “We always try to have a tight, comprehensive offering that is in tune with our aesthetic while delivering great fit fit and quality at the same time.”
The made-in-Canada label gets its inspiration, appropriately, from both contemporary figures and departed icons: from Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood to Elizabeth Olsen and Lea Seydoux; and from Toronto girl Feist to American painters Helen Frankenthaler and Georgia O’Keeffe.
“Lingerie is such a celebration of femininity that we are constantly inspired by women throughout the ages who have a thoughtful sense of beauty, independent sense of style and a healthy dose of rebellion,” said Christina.
Fortnight Lingerie is in many ways a model of how to grow an independent fashion label. Plotting its course carefully and deliberately, and always (literally) delivering the goods, it has been embraced by retail boutiques across and the U.S. and enjoys favorite-child status among Canada’s adoring fashion community.
From such regard are classics born.
Now here’s a look at select styles from Fortnight Lingerie‘s Holiday 2013 and Spring 2014 lines. The advertising images (above) where shot by Toronto photographer Arden Wray at Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island.
Fortnight is, we’re happy to say, available everywhere.