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Polish Lingerie 101: Location

Corin Amanda
 I found it nearly impossible to keep myself from comparing the British full bust brands with the Polish ones I encountered. It was the biggest challenge of my trip and I believe it's an easy mistake to make when ordering internationally. If we approach these producers as if they're the British brands in disguise, we will continually be disappointed, frustrated, and confused. The British brands preach a singular and consistent message about correct bra fitting, proper breast appearance, and technical construction. It's inevitable that their devoted converts -- and I count myself as one! -- would want to apply their mandates to other lingerie cultures. However, if we remove our familiar conceptions of how these companies should be, we can understand Polish lingerie in it's own context. This post discusses how Poland's location may have effected it's collections or design direction: 

The United States is a big country and full of eager consumers, but we're also a country that's geographically distant from the strongest full bust manufacturers.  Thus, our options have historically been confined to naive or formerly native brands such as Wacoal, Maidenform and Victoria's Secret. We must remember it's expensive, complex, and time consuming to move European lingerie from their region to ours. However, Poland has a bit of an advantage in the other direction. They have a closer neighbor that is also a big country and definitely full of eager consumers: Russia.

You have to ask yourself, what lingerie would Anna Karenina wear?
In meetings, I heard a few comments about the Russian market and Polish suppliers which piqued my interest. On one dimension of this subject, lingerie professionals all agreed that their Russian customers prefer dramatic, luxurious designs. One shop employee thought their taste leaned towards the guady side, while another suggested that they were visually bored when lingerie shopping in Poland. A company CEO told me that their largest market was in Russia and another brand admitted that it was a complex process to export successfully there.


This relationship brings up many questions and might be an explanation of why Polish lingerie can seem so...well, foreign? On a previous post in this series, a commenter wrote that the marketing standards threw her off, that the images felt risque or excessively done up. There are also some bras (i.e., Corin's Amanda) that aren't my taste at all, but I was told were bestsellers in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, etc. On our side of things, French companies have had to react to their growing American market and release more padded, beige, or simple styles. Likewise, some of the full bust Polish brands have a deeper bond with, or have evolved alongside, demand in Russia and the surrounding area.

Have you ever noticed photographs of Polish lingerie look 'different'? 

Do you like opulent, dramatic bras?  Have you ever considered we might share a "North American" sense of beauty & lingerie? 

If you're Russian, of Russian descent, or have ever visited Russia, let me know your thoughts!

I'd love to hear what everyone here thinks of this...

15 Comments

  1. I may have been the (Canadian) commenter to which you're referring... I don't generally like opulent bras (for example, the Empreinte Thalia). I find them overwhelming on my short, short waisted, busty frame. On the other hand, I really dislike the "US aesthetic" - full cupped (in larger sizes), cleavage oriented (at the expense of good fit). Wow, I'm really coming across as critical! :-)

    I do tend to love the UK aesthetic (namely Freya more than 2 seasons ago, I sense that the brand has lost its way recently), Miss Mandalay, Fantasie - love that full-balconette - which is great for deep breasts. I also love Empreinte - recent convert on the basis of fit and construction - though many of its offerings are too fussy for my liking.

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    1. K.Line, you don't sound critical. You sound like a gal who knows what she likes which is never a bad thing. ;)

      Ironically, I'm a person who LOVES fussy, detailed bras and the E. Thalia is at the top of that list. Haha. Overall, I'm more and more curious about Empreinte -- everyone's been so enthusiastic about them, I can't wait to try them out. I agree with you too, for everyday the deep U.K. "full balconettes" are great...especially Miss. M.

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    2. Empreinte used to be great but ... their bands start in theory at 30 which is now closer to a 32 in other brands - plus even with hand-washing they stretch very quickly. I was told I should not even have hand-washed them, that I should only quickly rinse them under cold water (not even luke-warm). As a long-time wearer, I can't buy them any more due to size ...

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  2. It makes sense that different regions have different aesthetic tastes and yes, a lot of the Polish lingerie photographs look rather silly to me. That being said, I think the photos (and many of the bras) from Curvy Kate make the models look ludicrous too. I think some brands in Poland do look more akin to what we Panache/Cleo/Masquerade women like. The Samanta website looks great, and the look of the bras are much more to my taste than what I've seen from Corin, Kris or Ewa Michalak.

    One thing I will say--especially when I look at the Kris photos, all that floral embellishment looks rather old ladyish. Much of it has an old world feel and when you combine that look with what another poster called soft porn looking photos, well, it's a rather odd combination!

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    1. I know what you mean. I'm not bothered by the C.K. photos, but there are American companies (Parfait, the most recent Claudette catalog) which release sexually suggestive photographs. I have a feeling that Kris Line & some other companies make images that go in the same direction, but it might not be what we think of as "glamorous/seductive".

      I'm a big Puritan when it comes to this stuff too. In my perfect world, each catalog would have artistic shoots centered around a particular message or story. They could be seductive, but the outright "this-is-what-we-think-guys-think-is-hot" thing is stupid...and that's a definition that everyone needs to make for themselves I suppose.

      I've never thought about the embroidery/old world element before. Ha! It makes me think "sexy grandma".

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  3. I live in eastern Ukraine, so I think it counts as Russian )

    Here is the thing: before 90s pretty bras were extremely rare (the party taught us that soviet women shouldn't be sexy, and they were controlling production). In 90s good lingerie wasn't really affordable for the most women (when you month income is $100 you have other priorities). And when things got better many of us wanted it all. Sometimes this luxury and sensuality hunger could go to extremes. But it eventually calms down actually. And there is already strong demand for beige seamless bras with light padding over here.

    And I can confirm that Polish brands have quite strong presence here. But the biggest player is Milavitsa (Belorus, http://www.milavitsa.com/) which is usually cheaper, goes to European H cup and is not bad quality wise. It isn't a luxury brand by any means, but it's where most Russuian, Ukrainian and Belorusian women buy everyday bras. That's why I think Polish brands experience low demand for beige.

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    1. Thank you SO, so much for your perspective. It's invaluable that you'd be willing to explain this basic stuff to us, NothingEverFits. Generally, I prefer bras with a lot of embroidery and fancy touches, but there's the element I mentioned -- and you've explained it perfectly! "Sometimes this luxury and sensuality hunger could go to extremes".

      Also, Milavitsa? I've got to check it out.

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  4. To be honest I like opulent, dramatic bras. This is why I have always been attracted Empreinte and Fauve designs. I think the reason why is because I love how they make me feel, and the fact that no one knows about it except me makes me feel naughty and sexy! Haha. :D

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    1. HA! We're soul sisters in that regard. :)

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  5. I want drama/opulence without lace- print on padded bras or simple fabric is not something I see often. The Lato and Capella were wonderful exceptions.

    That combines the 'American' aesthetic with the Eastern European! I don't like bras showing under my clothes much as I find it distracting when I see it on others. I can claim no Eastern or Western European heritage, though!

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    1. Oh the Lato! I mourn that bra's death like no other.

      You have an interesting perspective, Faustineli. For me, the situation/environment drives my bra choice in the morning. For professional settings, I'd agree with you. There's an element of distraction there and if for whatever reason I'd still rather wear a soft cup, I rely on my trusty (if kind of gross?) nipple covers. But in my down time, seams are always welcome.

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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    2. I avoid bras with contrasting patterns, like black and white, as them seem to be impractical - neither for light or dark clothing. Frankly I like smooth, one coloured bras best, I like to have some black and beige bras to wear under black and white/translucent clothing and others I just buy if they are really, really pretty even if they are less practical. But I have to count my money so I more often choose practical designs. I can bear lace or embroidery showing through fabric if the fit is nice and comfortable, after all I don't have to look perfect. I also think coloured bras (red, violet, pink etc.) are also pretty practical if they match the colour of favourite tops - for example I often wear bright violet, pink or mint so one-coloured bras in those colours are actually very useful for everyday wear for me. But patterns - rather not.

      Also, when it comes to showing under clothing... unless I wear very thick clothing, even seams of ordinary bras show. So, if it's a satin or plain cotton bra, it usually shows anyway. So I don't think it's worth the fuss, if it really matters for some outfit, it's better to choose smooth bra with seamless cups. But anyway I think it's normal for underwear to show a bit under clothes - not only bra cups, but also bra back, sometimes a bit of a strap, briefs. I don't understand why women should be ashamed of, for example, pants outline showing - there's nothing bad or shameful about wearing underwear ;) Don't get me wrong, if I think an outfit needs invisible underwear, I choose seamless briefs and smooth, strapless bra, but for everyday I prefer plain, cotton briefs and any comfortable, matching bra.

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  6. Looks like there is problem with adding comment to the thread, sorry for commenting to the main.

    2 K.Line
    Thank you!

    2 Cecily
    You are gladly welcome! And let me thank you too, I've learnt a lot about bras and fit from your blog.
    There is on more funny thing about Polish brands. There is very strong stereotype over here, it's about quality, that it goes like this depending of the where an item was made:
    Japan
    US/Western Europe
    Eastern Europe
    exUSSR
    China
    So, guess what? Bras made by polish brands which doesn't well known and have a strong reputation even if quality is impeccable usually are bought as pretty things that aren't meant to last long.

    I know that women from exUSSR have quite a reputation for overdress and over-everything, but what can I say... there is a learning curve. Some girls will never learn, but there are people without good taste in any nation.

    Milavitsa is a real go to brand for many girls and women here, I can't wear their bras because of narrow wires. My friend who usually has 2-3 everyday their bras in the rotation says that they last like 1.5 year until stretched out.

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  7. I am from the former USSR and currently live in Canada. I left my home country when I was in my late teens, so I might not be aware of the current trends. It must be said though, that Russian women tend to dress up a lot more than the westerners. I can tell a Russian woman here in Canada long before she comes close enough for me to so much as see her face, let alone hear her accent! :) It is not uncommon for a Russian lady to wear her furs to a grocery store. Many Russian girls will not take a garbage bin out without a full face makeup. I remember back in those days dressing up just to go buy bread from a corner shop in my own building. So, I am not surprised to hear that opulent bras are popular back home. In fact, any kind of opulent, "in your face" clothing would find a lot more takers back there than it would here in the West.

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