When were Hoeschen invented?

The ladies' panties turn 100 - and stand more than ever for a piece of freedom

Once a remedy for cold and illness, women's underpants have now become an expression of female self-determination.

At the beginning of December, the show of the US lingerie label Victoria's Secret was broadcast, which was recorded in mid-November. The only question is who else cares? Firstly, the images of the annual spectacle with the winged top models could already be seen on all social networks.

Second, the underwear from Victoria's Secret stands for an image of women that no longer really fits into today's times of female self-determination. In fact, there is something anachronistic about the push-up bra and tight thong panties, which are celebrated with a lot of pomp on the catwalk, against the background of numerous hashtag movements such as #bodypositivity, #selflove or #diversity.

Confident through to underwear

Times are changing - even below the belt. While strings made of lace were still considered the ultimate in feminine seduction in the nineties, modern women today prefer to wear high-waisted panties made of fine cotton rib. And not only when they get their period (more on that later), but also once when a rendezvous is due.

Like the underpants of yore

If you look at today's models, they actually remind you of the knickers that our great-grandmothers wore a hundred years ago: There is again a lot of fabric underneath, they are stomach-covering and comfortable. So the circle comes full circle on the 100th birthday of the panty, so to speak. It was in 1918 when the Hanro knitwear factory in Liestal came up with the idea of ​​simply shortening the trousers for women that had been used up until then. The result was the original form of women's underpants as we know them today. The girdles were knitted on the latest tricot machines, were air-permeable and guaranteed freedom of movement.

Revolutionary garment

Before that, women mostly wore one-piece, wide shirt trousers, also known as trousers, under day dresses and skirts. At least those who could afford it. Everyone else wore underneath - nothing. It was only in the course of the education and the emerging hygiene idea that undergarments and their regular changes were placed on them, also in order to avoid illnesses. However, women’s panties did not really spread until the late 1940s, when women began to wear trousers like men. The slip with cut leg only caught on in the 1970s.

Five milestones in slip history:

Five groundbreaking developments:

1. Young labels conquer the market

Just as the underpants exuded something emancipatory back then, they are once again well on the way to becoming a symbol of a new female self-image.

While brands like Victoria’s Secret still want to attract attention with glossy pictures and trimmed model bodies, young lingerie labels such as Skin, Aerie, Baserange or Maryetat are now focusing on naturalness and diversity. They make briefs for women with different bodies, skin colors and sexual orientations. And stage them on normal bodies with small pads, stretch marks and stubble.

2. Panties are the best-selling model

It seems that the new naturalness hits the nerve of the times. While the sales figures for Victoria's Secret are on the decline (online trading has been ignored for years, reduced strings are piled up in the shops) and the show attracts fewer viewers each year, the new brands are setting new standards in terms of style and attitude.

This can also be seen in Swiss underwear departments, where the trend is clearly moving away from thong underpants to more fabric, even with traditional brands. At the Swiss underwear manufacturer Calida, for example, panties are now the best-selling form alongside classic briefs.

3. Trend towards more diversity

Today, however, women's panties have to be able to do more than just look good. In the USA, brands like ThirdLove not only offer their underwear in oversizes, but also in different skin tones - which of course makes sense in a country with a large proportion of Afro- or Hispanic-Americans. Customers can choose from five skin tones on the website, from “Naked 1” to “Naked 5”. After the singer Rihanna launched a make-up foundation in 40 different shades of nude for her cosmetics line Fenty Beauty and recently a traditional manufacturer of ballet shoes presented the introduction of darker shades for pointe shoes - after all, there are also dark-skinned prima ballerinas - is now the panties have also become political.

4. The ice is getting thinner for Victoria's Secret

Significantly, it was Heidi Zak, co-founder of Third Love, who recently had a one-page open letter to Ed Razek, head of marketing at Victoria's Secret, printed as an advertisement in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. In it, she comments on his controversial statements in a “Vogue” interview in which he made fun of her brand, defended Victoria's Secret image of women and insulted plus-size and transgender models. The interview caused outrage around the world, and Razek's apology on Twitter was no longer able to fully resolve the matter.

5. Period panties conquer the market

For some time now, so-called menstrual underpants have also been a topic of discussion. What may sound slightly off-putting at first, turns out to be not only practical at second glance - it also looks surprisingly attractive.

This was designed by the American label Thinx, founded in 2014, which specializes in fashionable underpants, thanks to which - depending on menstrual strength - you can either do without tampons, pads or cups entirely or wear them as a supplement. This is made possible by means of a four-layer system that absorbs the blood and no longer lets it out. The layers can supposedly absorb up to six teaspoons of liquid without endangering the feeling of dryness. After use, the pants are simply washed out by hand, then put in the machine.

Developed by women for women

Behind Thinx are three New Yorkers, countless unpleasant mens mishaps and three and a half years of development work. Today the twins Radha and Miki Agrawal and their friend Antonia Dunbar employ around thirty employees. Thinx briefs are sent all over the world, and they are working hard on the mission to remove the taboo on menstruation. In the meantime, there are also other brands such as Lunapads that specialize in beautiful menstrual underwear. And Panty Prop also has swimwear in its range.

To another pioneering 100 years

In spite of its old age, women's panties are always able to provide news. Those who prefer it old-fashioned can watch the full length of the Victoria's Secret Show 2018 on the night of December 2nd to 3rd at 4 a.m. our time on the US broadcaster ABC.