Agent Provocateur moves with the body-positivity times



As luxury lingerie label Agent Provocateur unveils its all-singing, all-dancing spring 19 campaign, creative director Sarah Shotton talks to Drapers about the new way women are buying underwear, and why brick-and-mortar is still key for the brand.

Agent Provocateur creative director Sarah Shotton

Agent Provocateur creative director Sarah Shotton

Why was body diversity a key part of Agent Provocateur’s spring 19 campaign?

We wanted to create something fun and uplifting, and ended up using 22 girls, all professional dancers with different body types. There was also the desire to tap into the new way that everyone is looking after themselves and going to the gym, but also making the most of their natural weight and body shapes.

Body positivity is something we’ve always done at Agent Provocateur since I started in 1991, when Sophie Dahl modelled for us, but we’ve just never shouted about before.

What has your focus been at Agent Provocateur over the past 12 months?

We’ve been very conscious in using different-sized women on our ecommerce site, which has led to a significant uplift in sales of larger cup sizes and larger knicker sizes. Swimwear has been an area of focus, because there’s been a real trend for women wearing swimsuits as outerwear and pairing them with their jeans. We also opened new stores in  Miami in July and Amsterdam in October. The US is a huge market for us, because they love a British label.


Why is Agent Provocateur continuing to invest in its brick-and-mortar offer?

Brick-and-mortar is part of our heritage, and we’ve always taken a very experiential and very immersive (outlook). Obviously, digital and ecommerce is important to us, but we find it is still important to have key stores in key cities.

We are not your traditional lingerie department and we want to create an environment where women or men or whoever feel comfortable.

I worked on the shop floor myself for a long time, so I know how important that service is. It is also still easier to get a bra properly fitted in person, so it makes sense for us to have a store offer.

How have you seen the lingerie market change?

What we’ve seen is a real shift in the way women approach buying underwear. Previously, women would find an underwear shape that worked for them and kind of stick with it, but now they buy underwear in the way they buy dresses. You might have underwear that you wear for the weekend, or supportive underwear for during the week. Women are much more educated about looking after themselves and understand the impact that underwear has on how you feel.

What key trends are you seeing in the lingerie market?

The key thing is layering. We’re seeing pop stars wearing underwear with tracksuit bottoms, lots of girls wearing bodies underneath sheer dresses and our sales of corset dresses are flying.

We launched a tuxedo for autumn 19 that has done really well – who would have thought trousers from a lingerie brand would have been a success?

There’s also a lot of deconstruction and bright colours