Netflix's 'Bridgerton' is giving corset sellers a boost

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Netflix's 'Bridgerton' is giving corset sellers a boost
Netflix
  • The Netflix show "Bridgerton" has been a boon for the corset industry.
  • Since "Bridgerton" aired, retailers including Etsy and Corset Story have seen upticks in traffic.
  • Netflix said in January that "Bridgerton" was its biggest show to date.

One of the first scenes in Netflix's buzzy new period drama "Bridgerton" features a character being laced into a corset. So it's no surprise that the show, based on Julia Quinn's romance novels, has precipitated a new surge of interest in corsets and other Regency-inspired garb.

The series, created by Chris Van Dusen as part of Shonda Rhimes' reported $150 million Netflix deal, was released in late December 2020. Netflix said in a press release in January that Bridgerton was the streaming service's "biggest show ever," with a viewership of 82 million households in its first 28 days.

Viewers responded to the Austen-meets-Ariana Grande feel of the show: contemporary casting, music, and love scenes overlaid on a glitzy 1800s background.

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Ironically, Wendy LeSesne, the chief marketing officer of Orchard Corsets, told Insider that the Regency era was not the inspiration for the kind of corsets that viewers are looking for after watching the show. That time period was characterized by flowing waists, but for many modern consumers, purchasing a corset is an effort to achieve an hourglass figure. But given that "Bridgerton" weaves together past and present in its plot, subject matter, and score, a little revisionist fashion history is par for the course.

Orchard Corsets reported an increase in sales since the show began airing. Traffic to the retailer's website grew by 71% in the same time period, LeSesne said, and it noticed more new viewers -unusual for the retailer, which relies on repeat buyers.

Etsy told Insider that the site saw a 91% increase in searches for corsets in the past three months, compared to the same time period last year.

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High-end corset purveyor Corset Story saw a 20% increase in site traffic in January. But a representative told Insider that revenue "ended up a little below our original targets." The representative said that the reason for an increase in traffic but not revenue could be higher prices, or that "people gravitated towards marketplaces."

Indeed, the top Amazon result for "corset" has several sizes and colors sold out or backordered. One reviewer wrote: "I love this corset so much! I was inspired by Bridgerton (like so many others)."

Read more: 'The Queen's Gambit' effect: Chess-related experiences and merch are in high demand as the Netflix show boosts business for retailers, resorts, and streamers

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In addition to Etsy seeing searches for corsets soar, it saw a similar lift in searches for old-fashioned or Regency-inspired lifestyle items like tea sets, which went up by 110%. And the impractical-but-fabulous query "lace gloves" surged 744%.

But as Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy's trend expert, told Insider, "We love the show … but that doesn't mean that we're all trading in our sweatpants for ball gowns."

The rise of interest in corsets, Johnson suspects, lets people feel on-trend while "not completely stepping back into getting dressed from head to toe, but rather making yourself feel a little bit more polished and sophisticated."

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Orchard Corsets is looking to capitalize on the success of the show by adding some "Bridgerton"-inspired items to its site later this year. It'll also be putting together a page detailing the history of the time period's attire for interested shoppers with an eye toward historical accuracy.

"Bridgerton" isn't the first Netflix show to move markets. Insider reported that the success of the limited series "The Queen's Gambit" has driven increased interest in chess sets, lessons, and merchandise.

Johnson thinks that, with many consumers spending more time at home due to the pandemic, "it's no surprise why shoppers are really drawing this inspiration from the TV shows that we're tuning into."

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