Clearly, the economic downturn will affect every consumer good – including bras and panties. While lingerie generally fairs better than many other consumer items, the market will still see a drop in underwear sales as we all strip away the excess in our budgets and focus on basics.

It’s not surprising then that lingerie maker Maidenform Brands Inc. has announced that it will cut jobs in 2009 because of lower than expected financial results in 2008. The world-known underwear giant will shed about 9 per cent of its workforce, in an effort to cut expenses.

The company owns a number of well-known lingerie brands, including Maidenform, Flexees and Lilyette.

Recent Maidenform innovations have included the Global Body Collection, an eco-friendly line of bamboo fiber blend bras and panties. While Maidenform itself focuses more on a younger demographic (with smaller bust lines), Lilyette carries a number of styles in a wider range of sizes, including DD and DDD sizes. Of course, no self-respecting lingerie maker would be caught without shapewear these days – Flexees are the Maidenform version of Spanx.

All this product innovation has not saved Maidenform Brands from the challenges of economic downturns, though.

Downsizing is not without its own costs. Maidenform Brands will take charges of 3 cents per share, related to this reduction in workforce and the accompanying restructuring. So there will be more pain before the company sees the benefits of any staff lay-offs.

The company is already anticipating a drop in sales of 2 per cent. This seems quite reasonable and even positive given the current economic challenges. In fact, don’t feel to sorry for Maidenform Brands just yet; they are still predicting net sales of $413 million.

The stock market is rarely impressed with even the best results. Shares of the company went down a full 44 cents to $9 after the announcement.