If you missed National Lingerie Day on Tuesday, don’t feel too bad — you weren’t alone.
Most people (like me) were completely unaware of the occasion and found out too late in the day to throw together an all-undies party, squeeze in a celebratory shopping trip, or at least organize their bra drawer.
Feel free to blame the media for this one. Most people who cover the intimates industry were, ahem, caught with their pants down on Tuesday, utterly clueless about NLD until they started reading their Twitter feed.
Those retailers that knew about NLD announced some quickie sales and giveaways and one (Hips & Curves) even put together a nice greeting card (above) to mark the occasion. By midday, all the social media channels were buzzing merrily about the one day of the year when we’re all supposed to pause and give thanks for the indescribable privilege that is silk panties.
That is what National Lingerie Day is about, isn’t it? Or is it?
Umm, yeah, well, not exactly.
National Lingerie Day — which really didn’t exist until now — sprung to life literally overnight after a small bit of marketing suddenly went viral. You went to bed on Monday night thinking nothing special (other than Kelly Clarkson‘s birthday) was on the calendar for Tuesday, and by noon you were surfing for underwear bargains on your lunch hour.
The credit for this happy accident goes to the marketing team at Frederick’s of Hollywood, which announced several sales on its Facebook page early in the week “in honor of National Lingerie Day”. With over 300,000 fans who saw those messages (and the sexy photos accompanying them) on their Facebook walls, the notion quickly spread and morphed into a Twitter hashtag almost immediately. Other retailers jumped in with quick offers, the “holiday” idea seeped into news stories, and bloggers raced to post stories, acting like they’d known about it all along. (Here’s an especially nice post.)
But is National Lingerie Day a real thing or just another one of those Hallmark holidays?
Frederick’s insists it wasn’t trying to fabricate an occasion to promote itself or the industry. A company spokesperson told us that she read about it somewhere last year and a Google search revealed that this was also National Lingerie Week.
“The team thought it sounded like a fun holiday for the leader in lingerie to celebrate, so we took it and ran with it,” she said. “We are thrilled with how viral it went and the amount of exposure the “holiday” brought to the industry.”
In fact, there is some precedent for all this. The Intimate Apparel Council, an industry group made up of U.S. designers, brands and retailers, has been promoting the idea of National Lingerie Week in April since 1989, “to reaffirm the message that intimate apparel is fashion, by having a week-long celebration of in-store promotions, unique prices and fit clinics.” The idea seems to have petered out a few years ago (the IAC didn’t mention it this year) but it got lots of attention back in 2000 thanks to a Saturday Night Live skit, in which Cheri Oteri (above) played the owner of the “Erotic Attic” and showed off some of her special gift items for National Lingerie Week.
And the new U.S. “holiday” comes hot on the heels of the United Kingdom’s somewhat dubious “National Cleavage Day” on March 31. The occasion was introduced this year when a bevy of Ann Summers models paraded down Oxford Street in their underwear. According to press reports, National Cleavage Day is held annually “to celebrate women’s independence and power in their careers and relationships.” Seriously.
Ann Summers was also behind another faux holiday a few years back when it declared May 3 to be “National New Bra Day“, supposedly marking the obligatory spring ritual in which British women toss out their old bras and storm the clearance bins at Marks & Spencer.
But America has a long way to go before it catches up to Brazil in this area: they actually celebrate National Underwear Day in February, giving Brazilians yet another excuse to party in their skivvies all day and night without anyone thinking it’s unusual.
One thing’s certain: however sketchy its origins, National Lingerie Day is here to stay. So mark your calendars for next April 24 and watch for the festivities.
We’re hoping Frederick’s will at least host a parade. Maybe with Kelly Clarkson — in lingerie — as grand marshal.