Built around the values of community, empowerment and inclusivity, Bangladesh-based Aasha is a new intimatewear line for women, that aims to offer premium, export-quality products that are proudly ‘Made in Bangladesh’.
Pegged at an affordable price point, the brand strives to foster inclusivity by engaging all women via their community-building efforts as well as their products, which are available in sizes ranging from XS-3XL, to suit a wide range of body types.
“A key motivation for Aasha is to bring authenticity to its customers when portraying the female body. In addition to having women of diverse body types in our photoshoots, we have also made a conscious effort to retain natural features of the body, such as stretch marks, cellulitis and other body marks. We believe everybody is unique and beautiful, and at Aasha, we encourage every woman to believe that their body is beautiful,” Elma Siddiqua, Founder of Aasha, told Apparel Resources (AR) in an exclusive interview.
As a community-focused brand, Aasha encourages women to discuss topics they may not be comfortable discussing elsewhere, such as women’s well-being needs, periods, mental health and so on.
“We are really grateful to everyone who have tried our products so far, with many customers returning to buy multiple items. We are proud to say that our efforts have encouraged many women to come to us and discuss many such issues that they weren’t comfortable discussing elsewhere,” Elma said.
In our latest conversation with the Founder, we highlight the growing market and demand for intimatewear in Bangladesh, and how Aasha with its unique approach that couples business with community-building efforts, is changing the game in the country.
Read on to find out!
AR: Take us through your educational qualifications and work ex prior to starting AASHA.
ES: I am currently pursuing a Masters’ degree at University of Cambridge, studying social innovation and prior to this I studied business management. Even though I studied business, fashion was always on my radar, since my family has a business in the RMG sector and that has interested me since a very young age.
AR: What are the brand’s various product categories and how is each segment priced?
ES: Currently we only focus on panties, wherein, we have launched a basic range and a lace range. The basic range features everyday wear knickers which come in 3 shapes: Hipster, Bikini and Thongs. They are priced between BDT 235 to BDT 245. The lace range consists of various knickers, priced between BDT 180 to BDT 255.
“Our line of products is always expanding, with new and unique styles and colours being introduced on a regular basis. Aasha’s items are not only appealing and distinctive; as a business that aspires to please every consumer, we are continuously working on fit and comfort, driven by the desire to enhance our product so that customers have the greatest experience possible,” – Elma Siddiqua, Founder of Aasha.
AR: What is the USP and target market of the label?
ES: The main aim of this brand is to create high-quality products, using premium materials and technologies for the Bangladeshi market. These include using creative designs to complement all body shapes and sizes and seamless technologies for utmost comfort. Aasha seeks to cater to a diverse group of women. We have found our customers range from post-teens in high school, young women in universities, to working adults and even new mothers.
The logo of the brand has been designed around the idea that there are many gaps in the market for women’s intimatewear and many women have been left out and cannot access the quality of intimate products they deserve. The name Aasha, along with the gaps on the logo, represent our hope to fill these gaps and bring all women the products they deserve.
AR: What are the details, embroidery techniques, etc., that make your pieces stand out in the market?
ES: We use a diverse range of materials in creative ways to come up with new and existing styles for our customers; an example would be one of our fastest seller Tanga, in which we have combined two different kinds of lace together and come up with this design. We also use seamless bonding technology which can be seen by international brands in their premium offerings. This technology replaces regular stitching with bonding and provides smooth to the skin feel when wearing the underwear and also diminishes visible panty lines.
AR: When was the label founded, and how big is the team at AASHA today? Where is the main manufacturing unit located?
ES: Aasha was founded in March 2022. We launched our first collection in April 2022, following which we launched our lace collection and updated new designs. Including our manufacturing team, we are a team of about 20 people.
The production is entirely done in-house in our own factory which is located right outside of Dhaka.
AR: (a) What are the main materials/fabrics you work with– is it outsourced or created by you, or a mix of both?
(b) Bangladesh is famous globally, for its local markets and hubs. What are the hubs (both local and international) that you prefer for sourcing your raw materials/hardware and fabrics from and why?
ES: We selectively curate our fabric cocktail. We use high-tech polyester fabric which looks and feels sleek but still is extremely breathable and comfortable. We ensure to have a cotton gusset, which has a quick dry function for the utmost comfort for our customers. We use deadstock fabric which are leftover from larger production runs, and also import our accessories for the best possible quality and aesthetics.
“We use high-tech polyester fabric which looks and feels sleek but still is extremely breathable and comfortable. We ensure to have a cotton gusset, which has a quick dry function for the utmost comfort for our customers,” – Elma Siddiqua, Founder of Aasha
AR: How many collections do you come out with in a year– is the line- season-based, drop-based or edition-based? How often do you replenish your stock online and in-store?
ES: We have so far launched two collections – basic and lace. We keep updating our designs within the collection but we do plan to launch new collections soon. Our line is drop-based. As we work with exclusive materials, we only have limited stock items and if it’s once sold out, we can’t resource it.
AR: Where all do you stock your products in Bangladesh and internationally? Where all is your brand available online?
ES: Currently we are only available in Bangladesh. We stock our products in our own warehouse. We are available on Instagram @aasha.bd and on our Facebook page Aasha. We will soon be launching our own e-commerce website as well.
AR: What are your future plans for the label in terms of expansion and product drops?
ES: We plan to diversify in many product categories in the coming months. We plan on focusing on improving the lingerie market in Bangladesh, which is still a taboo and still caters to a very small group of body sizes. Aasha aims to break that cycle and make lingerie available to all body shapes and sizes. We also plan on expanding to other items such as bras and comfortable sleepwear for women to feel best in their own elements.
AR: Do you integrate sustainable and ethical practices in designing as well as production at AASHA? If yes, how do you implement these?
ES: At Aasha, we aim to have ethical practices in sourcing our fabrics and we have other social practices in our factory where we have the rule that all our workers’ children must complete higher secondary education and we also educate our workers on basic finances and home economics so that the benefits of their work ripple out beyond their personal life to their family and dependents.