Latest figures show that French consumer spending on all types of underwear enjoyed a modest rise of 3.5 per cent in value terms.

Figures across all types of underwear put the total French spend at 2,515 million euros, of which 1,180 million euros was invested in foundation garments and a further 456 million euros in nightwear and "housewear".  

There is as yet no more detailed breakdown available on how consumers allotted the remainder of their underwear budget. But informed trade sources suggest that the trend for replacing conventional knickers with more fashionable thongs is expected to manifest itself even more strongly when the figures for Christmas 2003 gift spending on lingerie are finally analysed.

By Sonia Roberts.