Invisible yet indispensable, the lingerie industry has grown to be a prominent segment in the apparel industry. Intimate apparel which is considered as the second skin of consumers is playing as a dynamic game-changer in the fashion trade. Different eye-catchy looks and always new innovations have opened the door of the new lucrative market from where business can be boosted up easily.
Lingerie getting popularity
Style, evolving fashion trends and factors, such as novelty and comfort are the main drivers of this industry. Changing lifestyle and demographic dividend, rising awareness on hygiene, a higher standard of living and customization of product portfolios have boosted the intimate wear market. A growing number of working women, changing fashion trends of the young generation, increasing presence in the media through advertisements have been accelerating the demand for these attires.
Providing professional cut with fine quality materials can make wearing the undergarments more comfortable. Moreover, growing e-commerce and the high participation of women in sports are also fueling the market. Women are increasingly becoming familiar with a wide variety of fashionable intimate wears at attractive prices due to online marketing.
Lingerie’s fashion appeal has remained evergreen and has undergone drastic changes during the past years. The market is driven by brands that come up with innovative products with new fabrics, embellishments, and creative patterns. Big brands such as Victoria’s Secrets, Calvin Klein, M&S, PVH, JC Penney, Walmart, Lascana, Armani dominate the international lingerie market while H&M, Target, Kohl’s, Popstar Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, La Perla, Livy, Jockey, Agent Provocateur, Myla, Rosy, Wacoal, etc. are expanding their business.
In the past ten years, the lingerie market which traditionally comprised of intimate apparel for women, including basic lingerie like bras and panties, has now become even broader with the addition of innovative products like laser-cut seamless bras, swimwear, boxers, briefs, bikinis, beachwear, thongs, tanga, boy short, seamless underwear, sleepwear, sexy lingerie, molded t-shirt bras, and fashionable products like bodysuits, longline bras, teddys, camisoles and corsets.
Some fashion trends
Diversification is brought into lingerie products around the world with the predominance of season-to-season and young generation tastes and preferences. ‘Show it off’ is the market philosophy of today. 2019 saw more brands’ body positivity in their advertising. ‘Tu’ by Sainsbury’s stood out with its ‘All Boobs Welcome’ campaign, while ThirdLove promoted ‘Every Body Is Beautiful’ in December. Some of the most exciting lingerie trends are being seen that never happen in fashion history-
Bralette and padded bra
Bra wires can disrupt proper blood circulation and may also cause indigestion and esophagitis. As a result, bralette and padded bra are gaining popularity as a huge new trend in women’s lingerie and replacing the traditional brassiere. Bralette minimizes pressure by removing the burdensome pads and wires of traditional bras.
These trendy items are seen especially in sea beach in the summer season. Cheeky G-string bikinis and thongs style lover said to Daily Mail, whatever the age, it gives the best amazing tan and makes the bum look better.
Florals or animal prints
Designers and fashion enthusiasts have presented few dark florals or animal printed undergarments in New York fashion week that were extremely catchy.
Non-traditional, geometric lace has become increasingly popular in the lingerie world. Floral lace is always classic, but fashion concerns are also seeing a lot of leaves and palm patterns with shades of saffron, sunny yellow for the upcoming spring/summer season.
Corsetry is the kind of trend that pops up once every few years. It is highly embedded with cultural and social significance that directly reflects the zeitgeist of the time.
Focus on sustainability
Due to demand sustainable practices, fast fashion retailers are announcing their commitment publicly towards forging an eco-friendly path & produce recycled intimate items.
Global intimate product’s market
According to Statista, in 2019, the global lingerie retail market was valued at approximately US$ 32.07 billion and it was forecast to reach a value of US$ 49.5 billion in 2025. Currently, Europe and North America account for $11.67 billion & $7.93 billion and have 66.3% combined share of the world lingerie market while Asia has 20.4% and South America and the rest of the world have 13.3%. The lingerie market is often broken into two product categories: bras and briefs.
Bras were the leading product category within the lingerie market as of 2016, with a 55.5% share. In Germany, up to 25.5% of women claimed to be willing to spend between 30 and 54 euros for lingerie.
China tops the list of lingerie exporting countries with a share of 37%, while Hong Kong and Sri Lanka occupy the second and third positions having 8.78% and 5.65% of the market shares respectively.
Bangladesh is the 4th largest lingerie exporter with a share of 5.23% in the global market followed by Vietnam, India, France, Germany, Cambodia, and Netherlands.
Experts think UAE will be the next business hub for lingerie. Technavio, an international research company, forecasts the global intimate apparel market to grow at a CAGR of 4.30% during the period 2017-2021 and the percentage profit of USA is forecast to rise at 5.3% per annum over the next five years.
Brands and products share
If we think about lingerie or intimate products, womenswear firstly comes in our mind. But men’s division is not lagged too. Calvin Klein dominates the menswear intimate market followed by Selfridges. Victoria’s Secret, known as women’s lingerie giant across the world, had global net sales amounting to approximately US$ 6.8 billion in 2019.
Among a variety of intimate apparel items, the bra segment dominates the market with more than half of the total share while briefs represent around 27%, corsetry & others 22%.
The briefs market is estimated to be worth almost exactly US$ 10bn at retail values. The demand for bra has grown tremendously in recent years. The demand for padded and push up bra is reached at the top position in recent years among wire bra, t-shirt bra, or strapless bra. Padded bra segment held the largest market share of more than 71.7% in 2017.
Jockey International Inc. says 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size, according to the company’s research. To fix that, the company spent eight years developing a volumetric sizing system, scanning the body types of more than 800 women and filing 26 patents.
Bangladesh has the opportunity to grow
H&M, Kmart, Debenhams, Target, O’Stin, Celio, Auchan, Next, Primark, Jules and Walmart are the major buyers of lingerie from Bangladesh. Although the t-shirt is the foundation, makers give eyes to diversity intimate products for a few years.
According to industry leaders, Bangladesh has tremendous untapped potential in the production of value-added lingerie items. In the fiscal year 2017-18, the export earnings from lingerie items stood at $1.15 billion, up 7.84% from the previous fiscal year. The figure for FY 2016-17 was $1.07 billion, for FY 2015-16 was $922.36 million, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
Lingerie is a complicated product that needs a sophisticated design that requires the right fabric and tailoring to yield a good fit as well as the highest level of satisfaction. Producing lingerie is a very sophisticated job. That’s why there are not many companies producing it.
Apex Group, SQ Group, Hop Lun BD, Blue Planet Knitwears, Chorka Textiles, KDS Group, Zaber & Zubair, Mondol Group, Four H Group, etc along with 40-50 factories are making these items for buyers. Knit Concerns is now planning to double its lingerie manufacturing capacity by 2020, targeting annual exports of US$ 50 Mn, up from US$ 24 Mn now.
Chorka Textiles has started the lingerie production line in 2014 & its monthly revenue is US$ 7.5 Mn. Profit margins for intimate wear is 20-25% higher compared to a basic T-shirt. In 2017, KC Lingerie exported 2Mn pcs of bras & boxers to Germany’s Chicca and also exported 6Mn pcs of underwear & nightwear to H&M in 2019.
Some new fresh investments are coming to catch this lubricant market. DBL Group is planning to pump US$ 100 Mn into an integrated lingerie plant in Habiganj by 2021, under US$ 1.2 bn worth DBL economic zone. Ananta Group has invested US$ 20 Million into the lingerie production facility in 2018. Hop Lun will build a new 700 lines factory within 1 year & 120 lines are in pipeline of Partex Group.
Bangladesh makes lingerie items ranged from basic to the medium valued maximum. Few makers are making luxury and high classy items recently. Exporters hope, because of the US-China trade war, export orders will shift to Bangladesh.
“We have to go for value-added items for long term sustainability at a time when we are not getting fair prices of apparel and lingerie is one of them. Bangladesh is still not doing much to produce the premium segment of lingerie items,” told Md. Mehedi Hasan, Manager (IE & Planning) of Blue Planet Fashionwear Ltd (Blue Planet Group).
“Continuous innovation in fabric and product designs are needed to stay competitive in the lingerie market. Now Blue Planet is making 1.2 million pcs of lingerie products for its European clients and continuously negotiating to grab more orders.”
Need more support
As synthetic threads, elastic and fabrics are needed to produce lingerie items, the country should develop its synthetic production houses. Local millers source cotton fabrics from local suppliers while they have to buy the synthetic-based collection and accessories from China. As a result, product making cost increases.
Due to a lack of experts, the industry hires foreign manpower more from Sri Lanka, Philippines, China. Industry pioneers think orders will shift from China if Bangladesh can establish more expertise in this segment.
Lingerie provides an opportunity for Bangladeshi garments exporters to diversify their product mix and step outside their comfort zone. To diversity and upgrade its product, millers have to adapt to new dynamics and technologies. Along with we have to emphasize more on strong R&D and design & innovation and also open an effective design studio to elaborate its activity. Also, policymakers have to give attention to increase port facilities and communication parts.
Intimatewear is the hottest item in today’s apparel. It is seen that this commercial division is boosting day by day where Bangladesh is far behind from touching the landmark. This product category requires special attention and proper effective initiatives from all concerned persons can lift this sector undoubtedly and earn more foreign exchange compared to running time.