‘Intimate’ no more; lingerie is an open business

by Anjori Grover Vasesi

08-June-2019  |  10 mins read

lingerie wear

As comfort, inclusivity and diversity become mainstream, the lingerie and intimates industry is undergoing a radical shift in terms of its evolving consumer base. No longer perceived as an ‘intimate’ affair, lingerie is everyone’s business.

Comfort is the new ‘Sexy’

Lingerie has long been associated with seduction, but in a race to keep up with the new-found awareness of consumers, many existing and upcoming brands are keeping diversity as their focus rather than style.

Front runner Victoria’s Secret’s mantra to success does not seem to be working anymore as the mega-retailer witnessed a major decline in sales last year. This serves as a perfect example for how no particular strategy is definite, and in order to stay relevant, one must always be different.

Consumers are opting for comfort-first clothing that fit well. Brands providing diverse options in terms of sizing, colours and shapes are the ones that are thriving right now. This shift in consumer tastes signals a start that could affect the global market on a higher scale.

Reports revealed by Edited for 2018 state a 14 per cent growth in sales for wireless and lightly lined bras in the US, as compared to a 10 per cent sellout growth in pushups.

Not limited to the States, the growth in comfort is observed worldwide. According to data shared by CBNData and Tmall, 70 per cent growth has been recorded in China alone.

Such sales are majorly driven by younger women – a consumer segment that brands and retailers should be looking at very carefully. Their growing awareness about international trends and brands (thanks to Instagram’s surpassing reach), coupled with their strong spending power, makes millennials and Gen Z hot on the radar right now.

The Indian market is a fertile ground for the lingerie and intimates’ category. With numerous international brands making their way into the Indian market – the latest being Parfait and domestic front runners such as Zivame, Clovia and Pretty Secrets battling each other to maximise their market share, here are some key points that can make your assortment stand out and remain relevant.

“An increasing number of people are opting for comfort over style, but at Zivame, we don’t believe in choosing one over the other as comfort is a necessity and all lingerie must be comfortable. We constantly engage with our consumers to understand their changing lifestyle and intimatewear needs. Innovation is at the core of everything we do and we are constantly working on areas of construction (uni-cup with flexible underwire, super-soft Marshmallow Cups) to make products that give a unique, stylish and comfortable consumer experience.” – Amisha Jain, CEO, Zivame

MAKING SUSTAINABLE, ATTAINABLE

Sustainability is no new concept but its relevance in the lingerie market has never been more profound. In a me-first mindset, consumers are concerned about what comes into their homes and onto their bodies.

Ethical, responsible and eco-friendly brands are having a moment.

Consumers are opting for breathable fabrics made out of natural materials and fibres, for all their intimate needs – be it bras, boxers, briefs or bodysuits.

US-based brand Reformation is working with Lenzing Tencel, recycled lace and eco-mesh, whilst retailers such as Everlane are known as industry-wide leaders in transparent and ethical production practices.

At Zivame, the journey to sustainability has already begun wherein they are trying to work around the feasibility of the concept for the Indian market.

“We are working on introducing products which are recyclable and eco-friendly. We are exploring materials like recyclable polyester yarns which have already been introduced in our activewear, organic cotton, vegetable dyes, sustainably-sourced bamboo that is durable and natural,” informed Amisha Jain, CEO, Zivame to Apparel Resources.

Price has always been a factor associated with sustainable products. Domestic retailer Patanjali Paridhan is tackling this issue by providing sustainable intimates made out of bamboo fibres at competitive price points tailored for the price-sensitive Indian economy.

This area is still untapped and holds great opportunity for those looking to enter. Currently, sustainable lingerie only makes up 2.4 per cent of total sustainable apparel.

SIZING FOR ALL

It is alarming to note that for most part of history, the needs of plus size women have been overlooked by the fashion industry.

With the advent of social media and awareness around body positive discussions, a huge prospect has opened up for the lingerie market. Given that lingerie is an indispensable part of our wardrobes and that it is worn everyday – this is a real insight.

A 6 per cent increase in plus size underwear was observed in the US last year.

Brands such as ASOS have introduced sizes from US 40 DD to 44 L.

In the domestic market, Zivame launched its True Curv collection in 2014 with a range of 40+ sizes when no other brand in India catered to that range. With breakthrough engineering, support and design, this collection saw Zivame’s entry into the curvy segment.

As confirmed by Amisha, “We realised there was a huge gap in the market for sizes in this category as the largest size sold was a 38 D and the consumers were constantly struggling to find the right fit and size. Zivame was the first Indian online lingerie brand to fill this gap with the True Curv collection, specially designed for curvy women.”

Curvy as a category for Zivame sits at 20 per cent of the overall business for the brand with the consumer base for Curvy consistently growing by 2x each year. With over one lakh unique customers and over three lakh pieces sold in 2018, Zivame is a market leader in the curvy segment for lingerie. Its True Curv collection offers sizes from 32 DD to 44 F, while offering 500 styles and 40+ sizes to suit multiple breast profiles which are truly engineered for Indian women’s body type.

Globally, high leg and hipster briefs are some of the most popular styles, with the most bought colours being nudes and darker shades like black.

A SHADE FOR EVERY SKIN

Talking about colour, it is pertinent to mention that all-inclusive fashion also includes colour palettes – a trend driven by beauty, a shade for every skin tone being a factor to be looked at.

Powerful body-diverse campaigns are supportive of women empowerment and with Feminism on an all-time high, this is a definite trend to cash in on.

According to Edited, there was a 52 per cent increase in ‘nude’ or ‘skin tone’ shades in stock in 2018 as compared to 2016.

SHAPEWEAR

While comfort reigns, there is still a considerable chunk of population that is all in for shapewear.

A booming market for new moms and women dealing with unwanted flab or obesity, shapewear products have received thousands of orders since the onset of 2018. Because of their slimming properties, it is highly lucrative for brands considering to come up with a diverse styles in order to cater to different needs of the consumers.

Tummy tuckers, high waist pants, control slips and body sculpting briefs in breathable materials other than spandex are key market drivers.

Based on consumer insight collected over the years, Zivame has categorised its shapewear as per three key features which are: Compression level which is the impact one would want to create visually. This includes low, medium, high compression and body sculpting shapewear; Construction which defines the number of hours the shapewear can be worn for and the level of compression; and the third type which is based on the Outerwear and the Target Areas such as waist, thighs, body, tummy and butt.

“Apart from shaping camisoles/slips, waist cinchers, thigh shapers and shaping briefs, Zivame has also introduced saree shapewear as a replacement to the traditional bulky petticoats having a sleek mermaid-fit shaping skirt with targeted compression panels that shape the tummy, thighs, hips and rear areas,” briefed Amisha.

Comfort coupled with functionality and sensitivity towards sizing, skin tones and the planet is what consumers are going to place their buck on. That would leave you with something to think about and work on…

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