Women have scaled great heights in almost every sphere today and the business world is no different. Primarily a male bastion, today, we see women who’ve not only forayed in various fields and become entrepreneurs but have formed and started companies and taken them to the zenith of success. And, the world of intimae wear too has many women who’ve made a mark in an industry that, until a few years ago had been ruled by men.
No doubt, in a highly patriarchal country like India, where the intimate wear industry is run mainly by men, being at the helm of affairs and calling the shots would not have been easy for these women. Yet, crossing all hurdles and taking on challenges , these women have carved a niche for themselves in this segment as well. Here are 20 such women who’ve not only made a name for themselves in the lingerie space but have almost redefined the rules of the business.
The colour ‘Pink’ is most often associated with sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, and romance…all of which describes a woman. No wonder it has been associated with femininity for generations and that’s where the name Pink Closet was derived from. The brainchild of Arti Ahuja, CEO, Pink Closet-an exclusive women’s lingerie store.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Arti pursued her Hotel Management at Dadar Catering College (IHM Mumbai), later working as a management trainee. After its completion, she worked in The Oberoi Group followed by Ginger Hotels till 2009. In 2010, she relocated to Belagavi after marriage, which being a II Tier city didn’t have much employment scope. The city lacked options for fashion retail back then and it seemed like a promising area to explore.
Pink Closet launched BIBA as a franchisee in 2010 and other brands such as AND, Global Desi, Soch, and Jockey soon followed. However, Arti always felt the pinch when it came to shopping for lingerie in Belagavi and would often find herself stocking up her essentials from Mumbai itself. “The urge to launch an exclusive women’s lingerie, nightwear, sportswear store grew stronger soon after I delivered my first child in 2014; the only option to buy appropriate maternity wear seemed to be online shopping. Thus, Pink Closet was conceptualised and launched on 31st July 2015,” she explains. The store itself is spread out on 1700 sq ft. and is located on the high street of Belagavi.
However, Arti had to face challenges in the industry when she first started. “The start-up and initial year was a big challenge as it took some time for us to understand the right product portfolio. Managing franchisees of reputed brands that have everything in place is a different ball game than trying to create and introduce a new concept in a discrete territory such as lingerie,” she says.
They also experimented with various brands ranging from budget to premium in lingerie as well as nightwear. “From the very beginning our brand identity was well-defined in my mind i.e., to provide ladies with a superior lingerie shopping experience at par with any normal multi-brand garment store. We wanted to create a shopping experience where women would be able to choose from an open display of all products under all categories and brands and also not feel awkward discussing their intimate measurements or fit issues. Keeping this as our philosophy, we have only women staff to service our customers,” Arti narrates.
Lubeina Shahpurwala & Naazneen Katrak,
Founders Mustang Socks & Accessories
Finding a good pair of socks can be a little tough. Seeing this void in the market, Lubeina Shahpurwala and Naazneen Katrak founded Mustang Socks & Accessories that endeavour to offer good quality socks in the Indian market.
Lubeina Shahpurwala, Co-founder, Mustang Socks & Accessories tells us about how it all started. “I am an entrepreneur who loves everything to do with design, colours and textile. My co-founder Naazneen Katrak established, built the brand and is a major driving force behind Mustang. We noticed there was a lack of good quality socks in the Indian market and decided to do something about it. And thus began our voyage of sailing in this ocean of socks,” she mentions.
Elaborating about why they chose socks, she continues, “People may wonder, ‘why build an empire of only socks?’ We are just following our heart. We are extremely passionate about great socks and this space truly allows us to be as innovative and creative.”
On Mustang, Lubeina states that the brand loves creative and colourful socks. “And best of all, Mustang loves people who love socks. We love to create trendy, vibrant socks for men, women and children. Our socks cater to every mood and bring to you the best quality you will find in the country”
The journey for both has been quite interesting and incredible one with challenges. Says Lubeina, “Socks, being an under-rated and unrecognised apparel segment, especially decades ago when we started our journey. We started from scratch. Managing finances, finding good quality yarn, arranging for appropriate machinery, talent, to set up a massive empire in Palghar to manufacture our brand of socks was not as big a task as it was to change mindsets.” Now, times have changed socks too are being recognised as a stand-alone segment. “Today, with 36 distributors, we have expanded our reach to over 100 cities, selling up to one million pairs a month.” opines Lubeina.
Mustang is looking forward to a very exciting future, states Lubeina. “Anything and everything with socks have always been exciting for us, and in future. We are bringing crackling new quirky designs to the table,” she says wrapping up.
A concept conceived way ahead of its times, Angelform is the brainchild of 26-year-old George Peter, who hailed from a humble family of farmers, and made a foray in the world of intimates in 1966 with the brand. Apart from never compromising on the quality of the products, they were aesthetically perfect, which boosted the confidence of women. After his demise at the age of 52, his wife took over the mantle and oversaw the growth of the business. Later, the children, particularly Ms Bobby George entered the management and took Angelform to the heights it has reached today.
Angelform almost revolutionised the existence of lingerie in the country and taking forward Peter’s vision, the management expanded the business to set up Elasto Mills Pvt. Ltd. in the year 1987 and provided excellent quality elastic tapes (the only manufacturers of this in the South at the time).
Then came the pure cotton panties, expansion of the production facilities and also exceptional embroidered materials of 2X2 laced bras. Then, with Bobby George and her brother Peter entering the business, by 2000, the brand got innovative and open to experimenting as well with their Bridal Collection and later with 100 per cent Cool Cotton Collection, it had truly make a mark.
Many such unique collections were launched in the coming years and for the brand’s Golden Jubilee celebrations there were two more collections that were launched –’Varna Jalam’ and ‘The Golden Jubilee Collection’. Then, as recent as 2016, Angelform unveiled another collection, ‘Little Miss Angel’, which was aimed at the teens, and later another one, ‘Cool Cotton Colours’ that was meant for all age groups. These launches cut across all age groups and segments strengthening the brand’s place in the sector.
The brand even created prosthetic bras for breast cancer survivors as a part of their social responsibility, which they offered free of cost to the people concerned. With schemes and various marketing campaigns, Angelform also stepped it up with entering the e-commerce space. Bobby George stated that the brand would be aggressively pursuing the online space as she believed that this platform was soon becoming a major part of the lingerie sector. Thus, she had plans to use this space prudently and effectively for the brand’s expansion.
Trained to be and engineer this creative lady went after her passion…women and girl issues. The Founder and CEO of Adira, Deepa Kumar put her engineering skills into inventing and creating ‘period panty’ as well as ‘stain-proof panty, among other products.
“My Brands are Morph Maternity (www.morphmaternity.com) and Adira (www.myadira.com),” says Deepa. “As a woman, it was easy for me to understand the challenges faced by women and see that there are gaps in the market to address these needs. This is what made me launch my brands,” she further explains. Also, being a woman entrepreneur, Deepa was inspired by women across all socio-economic and global backgrounds. Hence, she says, her brands, products, innovations and invention are all a result of my interest in improving quality of life for women and girls.
Talking about her brands and how it is different form the others, Deepa states, “We are a thought-through brand, offering innovative solutions. We are the first ones in the world to make Period Panties and I hold the USA patent for the product. The patent in India is pending and we are expecting it to come through soon.”
And the journey so far with her innovative products has been really good says the entrepreneur. “As I come from an engineering background and I got into clothing space. So, it’s been a lot of learning with failures and successes along the way. I am glad we are headed in the right direction and the best part of my work is that customers reach out to me personally and tell me what a positive impact my products have made in their daily lives,” she mentions.
Deepa also feels that now we are at an interesting phase in our country as most of us are well travelled, educated and very proud of our history and ourselves. “If there are two brands, one Indian and one international, both offering the same quality and price, we are unabashedly choosing Indian. And I believe the quality of product and design sense in India has improved immensely in the last decade. This, along with the fact that we, as Indian women are becoming financially independent and ready to splurge,” she believes.
As for the future plans, Deepa says “There are a few exciting products that are getting developed in stealth right now and we are going to be launching them early 2019.
Manisha Shah started her journey a decade ago along with her co-founder and life partner Chetan Shah in the field of loungewear. They had taken a decision to start their own brand Melodie as it was the best option to fulfil their creative aspirations.
Manisha, co-founded the brand Melodie, which offers unique lounge wear products customised for the needs of large and small retailers and exporters around the world. Speaking about her start, she says that the field of nightwear has “lots of potential and also my creative urge to do something innovative made me take a start. After putting in lots of efforts and giving the very best for the brand, I thought I could venture into my label. With the experience and confidence that I gathered by working for others, I personally felt that the sky would be the limit to grow and prosper with my own brand.”
And for Manisha, it has been a learning curve…“a learning process to grow, to expand and to excel,” she states. She continues to say, “In this field you can give your very best as well as experiment with new ideas, concepts, colours, etc. Soul satisfaction is always giving me the passion to work harder and to give my very best all the time.”
Manisha also feels that the intimates segment in India has great potential for growth and reach every nook and corner of our country. They also have a foothold in the export markets and their online business is slowly gaining momentum as well.
Speaking about how Melodie is different from the rest the dynamic lady says, “We have been fortunate enough to work with leading brands from day one that has given us the confidence, knowledge and understanding of the market. Our export breakthrough gave enough confidence to experiment with innovative concepts before others could think of it.”
For the future, Manisha and her husband plan to innovate and give the very best in terms of fabric quality, comfort and also the fitting of the garments while also explore the markets of other countries to study, understand and create something new all the time. Their focus on online is also the top priority to stay ahead in the market place.
A Business Management and Finance graduate and an MBA post-graduate, this young lady decided to get together with her friend and cousin brother and now business partner to come up with a brand in the domestic market. Tanvi Goenka Sekhsaria, the brain behind Mystère Paris talks about her venture and the journey so far.
Tanvi and her cousin both belong to an apparel background, mainly garment exports for renowned brands worldwide. “The idea was to use our expertise to create a brand for the domestic market. It also stemmed from the lack of availability of fashionable sleepwear and loungewear at an affordable price,” explains Tanvi.
Mystère Paris was created to solve the needs of the new evolved customers. It is a fashion brand for the dynamic, multi-faceted woman of today. “We create chic sleepwear and loungewear for a woman that is stylish and still wants to be in her comfort zone. Our collections are anchored on researched international trends and offer a global design sensibility,” Tanvi says.
They wanted to focus on Sleepwear and Loungewear specifically because they felt that lingerie or apparel brands were not providing a selection and quality to the consumer. Tanvi also believes that the lingerie market across the world is growing rapidly and India is no exception. “Just like in the apparel sector the sensibility of the consumers in lingerie and especially nightwear, is evolving. India gets more and more fashion conscious every day. They want international level styles and fabrics,” she feels.
For the future, she would like to expand to several areas but for now she feels there’s enough scope in the sleepwear and loungewear segment to expand. But they do have plans to spread out to other segments such as lingerie, maternity, athleisure, etc.
What if you have faced difficulties and see your children facing the same situation? What if you think of changing the situation not just for yourself or your children but for the masses? This sounds like a dream or even hypothetical but it can be real. There are many stories of people who have tried to bring about changes in society and Pratibha Bhatnagar is one of them.
The lady kicked off her career with Shae Enterprises, her first business venture where she created and designed handbags, which fashion retailers bought in wholesale. Then in 2014, Pratibha founded Avante Exports by teaming up with her brother. However, this was not the end as Pratibha started experimenting with lingerie as well.
When Pratibha was a young girl she was an active sportsperson but she had limited options when it came to active wear; and, it was no different in the space of lingerie. Pratibha says, “During my adolescent years, active wear was very limited to being an absolute necessity. Lingerie was considered as a basic garment and a far cry from fashion apparel. When my daughter grew up, she had similar challenges. I thought that with time the trend had changed and we would find suitable fashionable lingerie as per trend. Unfortunately, there has been little progress in this field in the last three decades so I decided to start something of my own to fulfil that and provide that comfort.”
So, she did extensive research for her new venture. “On trips abroad, I realised that international market had a wider range of innerwear in terms of designs, cuts, styles, colours, fabrics, sizes, and affordability. This got me start my research on lingerie market in India,” she states. What started out as an experiment, now turned into a full-fledged venture.
Now, she has three manufacturing plants making world-class lingerie from the finest fabrics and Italian laces. Her ability to identify a viable business opportunity and foresee how it can be transformed into a high growth business model has successfully steered her lingerie brand ‘Da Intimo’. According to Pratibha the intimate apparel industry is on its way to providing beautiful, affordable and fashionable lingerie for everyone in India. ‘Da Intimo’ prides itself from being the novices to come up with introducing a market for designer backs, caught the eye of teens and adults too.
What makes them unique is probably the style coupled with comfort yet keeping the technical changes about the evolving designs in lingerie.
“Lingerie is becoming the most progressive side of the fashion industry.”- Priya Ajwani Partner, Weltex
There is a saying…’Hard work pays off’ and this is very well soaked in Priya Ajwani’s DNA. A Commerce graduate with a sharp mind and great business sense, Priya has been a partner in her family business, Weltex, very well known in the lingerie market. since 2007.
Weltex was started by Priya’s father Jeevanlal Khatri who worked very hard to achieve the position they are enjoying now but Priya too worked chipped in with her hard work. “Ah! the many hats I have worn,” she starts. “I managed production as well as delivery of the finished products. I also overlook sales and marketing, accounts and quality control. If you cannot handle numerous responsibilities and multitask, then entrepreneurship might not be for you,” says Priya.
Speaking about the products, she explains, “Our varied range of products enhance the feminine shape of a woman. Suiting each woman’s need to look beautiful from within, we constantly upgrade our designs and cuts. Our fabrics are very soft and breathable ensuring high levels of comfort.”
Priya is a skilled entrepreneur, which she thinks is a game of attribution. She says, “It’s about having the determination, the discipline and the cash to see it through. The vision to see what others don’t, the passion to motivate yourself and your employees and the guts to make good decisions, that’s what has made us successful.”
She has great support from her husband, Manish as well. “My husband Manish Ajwani, is my biggest motivation; he keeps me focused. It’s very encouraging when your better half truly supports you.”
According to her idea generation is not a one time activity. It is a constant process of thinking out of the box, which eventually leads to simple, feasible and effective ideas. Also, Priya is the one who always looks out for opportunities, rather than competing in highly saturated markets. Priya sees a great potential and future in the lingerie market and she plans to go international with the brand as well
Young and vivacious, Urja Padwal, CEO, Little Lacy, believes that entrepreneurship is synonymous with passion. The young lady who always wanted to work for her dream (and not someone else’s) says that entrepreneurship places one at the control centre to make your dreams a reality.
Hailing from a close knit yet extremely progressive family, where they were entitled to self-dependence, freedom of decision and liberty of opinions, Urja considers herself quite lucky. “Academically, I have done my MBA from NMIMS and honoured to be a part of the Dean’s List. Getting into my father’s business came very naturally to me; maybe the passion just ran in my genes,” she says.
While giving insight about her experiences she states, “I have a small working experience of five years and many to go! An average day begins with making breakfast for my family followed by a 7-8 hour work schedule.”
Urja also feels that the best part about working for one’s own company is that it gives each day the possibility of being different. “You are not bound by creative limitations, time frames or scope of work,” she mentions. Design and new development is her forte and at Little Lacy, they give prime impetus to the design, quality and fit of the products. The products are marketed through a robust distribution channel pan-India and online portals.
Being an entrepreneur is undoubtedly great and inspiring for other women but Urja also knows about the gender bias that exists in the business world. “I may not have started my business but have plenty of examples where the glass ceiling effect exists and women have to do much more than their male counterparts to prove themselves and do away with people’s apprehensions to be taken seriously. Nonetheless, I also know of a lot of men who are encouraging their daughters/sisters/wives to work or start something of their own,” she tells us.
For Urja, though, her father Mr Rajiv Padwal has been her guiding light in her life. “He’s a self-made man in the intimate industry and there is so much to learn each day from him. I’m lucky to have inherited his passion for this profession. I have grown up watching this and it comes naturally to me. It is an evolving industry, growing by leaps and bounds each year and this certainly is a good time to be here,” she signs off.
Achievers have always believed that the mantra for success is hard work and entrepreneur Veena Soni is no different. The founder of LACEANDME, this dynamic lady has been in the lingerie segment and other lifestyle products of e-commerce businesses since the past 15 years.
Veena introduced lingerie to e-commerce giants in early 2000. “Creating a brand like LACEANDME was not so easy; it took lots of effort and hard work and then only my dream came true and yes, lingerie is closest to my heart,” she says.
For her too, hard work has paid…”For some, success comes on a platter but to me it is hard work and I would say madness with passion, which makes it big,” she tells us. “There are some people who are born to do something different from the masses; I wouldn’t say they have special abilities, but they have some kind of a passion in them, which does not let them do regular work. When this passion and talent, along with hard work is combined, it undoubtedly makes a great entrepreneur,” Veena continues.
Based out in Delhi Veena’s target audience is the middle and upper middle class in the age group of 18-45. She has shipped more than 6,00,000 lakh products to different buyers in India and overseas and the number is increasing day by day. As a result, today, she has an omni-channel presence.
“I have a Fine Arts background and have worked in related fields for many years before I jumped into e-commerce in the year 2001. I love reading so whatever time is left from home and work I spend on reading, which charges me for my new business ideas,” says Veena.
Veena was into e-commerce retail since it started flourishing in India but there was lack of knowledge and awareness at that time. But Veena was an enthusiast and was able to foresee the future of e-commerce. On her debut on the online platform she says, “I came too early into the e-commerce industry when there were hardly 5-6 vendors in Delhi and I was one of them. Initially people were not ready to take this business or me seriously as they were not able to understand the concept of an online business. But I ignored all this and followed my passion.”
Veena is also someone who strives for more. In the future, she says she will keep experimenting on the ways to make lingerie more innovative and fun loving along with comfort and to expand her business on much a more broader level.
Today, women are challenging every male bastion and are changing the world by inspiring others to do the same. Meet one such Indian woman who is an entrepreneur…Khushboo Kubadia, Creative Director, De’Moda, who is following her father’s footsteps by entering the business world.
Armed with a degree in Fashion Designing from B.D. Somani International School of Fashion Designing, Khushboo Kubadia’s love for fashion has strengthened her resolve to succeed in life. The parent company was started in 1994 and was a part of Sonari Group. They handled the nightwear and lingerie department. The Mothercare products were conceptualised later by her father. Khushboo suggested the name ‘DE’MODA’ for these nightwear, lingerie, and maternity-wear products. After she graduated, she joined her father to gain experience and after a few years, she relieved his workload and took over. Now, Khushboo handles designing, advertising, and online marketing.
The brand’s T.G. are teens and women. De’Moda has collections that cater to them. Their teen collection is trendy and eye-catching…no matter what your style, every girl can find something to suit her taste. Their Mothercare products are aimed at expecting women and new moms.
Khushboo says her greatest achievement has been bringing up the brand. “With a name change, it was almost like starting from scratch. We had to revamp our existing collection while adding to it. It was difficult to explain to people that while we only changed our name, the quality and variety we offered was still the same, if not better. Convincing people was a challenge and I consider it my greatest achievement to have pursued and realised it,” she states. She further adds that her parents’ support and guidance, who encouraged her to be the woman she is today. Khushboo also believes that it was perhaps easier for them than newly launched lingerie companies because it was mostly re-branding.
And along with rebranding, sudden changes in trends posed a hurdle too. “We had an existing stock of products when it happened. But we did not give up. We introduced new styles and catered to a wider age group, especially teenagers and that helped us stay afloat,” she tells us.
“Being an entrepreneur is not just about the business. A lot of aspects need to be given adequate thought. A great team and good resources are vital for a business to thrive. A go-getter and never-give-up attitude helps, too.
Making strides in the world of lingerie is no easy task in a conservative country like India, but Soumya Kant, Founding Member, Clovia, took up this challenge seeing the vacuum in the space of lingerie,
and launched Clovia. A few words with the brain behind the brand…
Explaining about the way lingerie was (and perhaps is) perceived in India, Soumya says, “Lingerie has always been talked about in a hushed voice in our country. It is an uncomfortable experience to shop from physical stores, which are mostly run by men. During my frequent travels abroad, I happened to come across a whole range of lingerie and was shocked to realise the severe drought of good lingerie solutions available to Indian women. About five years ago, only vanilla options existed and anything, which offered even a little bit extra by way of design or fashion was exorbitantly expensive.”
Soumya says they knew that e-commerce could be a great platform for women to pick the right size and fit from the privacy of their homes. “With the expansion of internet penetration in the country and the already existing gap in lingerie business, we decided to take the less travelled road and Clovia happened. We started in 2013 and since then there is no looking back,” she states.
The journey has been a roller-coaster ride for the brand. “The major challenge was to build a supply chain that can churn a large number of styles every week to keep up the freshness of our catalogue,” Soumya shares. So how different is Clovia from the rest? “Clovia is a full stack lingerie brand, which controls every part of its supply chain from mind-to-wardrobe,” she explains.
And she has great plans for the brand in the future as well. “India’s lingerie market is $3Bn (i.e. INR 18,000 Cr) and will be $8.4 bn by 2020. Clovia has the team, the mix, the ethics, the product and the head start to be the leader in this space. We are currently predominantly online but will soon be present in all channels that work with our customer feedback driven philosophy. We already have over 25 buddy entrepreneurs working with us on both sides…manufacturing as well as sales. We intend to add another 1000 buddies to this programme soon,” she ends while telling us about Clovia’s plans
She moved on and the brands moved with her. That is the assertive will of Ms Geeta Singh, the CEO of Avon Enterprise and the marching powerhouse of entrusted lingerie and intimate apparel brands. Chic, Chicita and Slic are the trademark brands of Ms Geeta that have stayed on for 30 years and going strong.
It was in 1986 that Ms Geeta Singh entered apparel manufacturing. “Before I started this business I was in a diamond sorting company called Hindustan Diamond Company. I worked with them for about three years and while I worked I did my Masters,” she states.
Meanwhile, Ms Geeta’s brother, in the year 1984 had taken a small 500 sq ft factory with machines with the intension of making T-shirts and outerwear. But as he was involved in another business, he could not give time to this one. So it was just given to somebody to run to see if the factory could move on. But, Ms Geeta points, “Business doesn’t work like that because you need to be on the horse if you’re riding it.” The factory was not in use, so she decided to use it and that’s how she started.
For Ms Geeta, lingerie was a field ‘just meant to be’. Though she had no experience in the industry of garments, it didn’t take her long to pick up the work. The company, then called A Class Fashion, was already doing a similar kind of job for another undergarment firm. With the help of technicians in the team of seven people, she caught a good hang of the garment making process, fabrics, etc., and grasped the knowledge of creating a quality undergarment. And then, she thought of creating her product alongside. So she learnt everything, right from running a machine to creating a product. However, no valiant rises before a fall, so did Geeta Singh. A major setback for her was the break from the business and the consequent separation of the brands from A Class Fashion Company in the year 2014. Avon Enterprises came into the picture as a marketing firm for all the three brands, with its inception in 1993. “So, people knew that Avon means the marketing arm of Chic, Chicita”.
As of now, Avon Enterprises is running smoothly and Geeta and her husband both have their own strengths. Brand promotion, participating in trade fairs, advertising in trade magazines has boosted the business further and today more dealers know about the brand.
Richa Kalra and Riya Kalra
Shopping for lingerie was hardly an easy and may we say, happy experience. For, a few years ago one had to walk into the local lingerie shop and deal with men behind the counters, the stares and the awkward questions and answers. Besides, one most times walked away with ill-fitting bras. This and the experience of shopping for lingerie abroad, led, sisters Richa and Riya Kalra, to launch Candyskin, a premium, lingerie brand made for women, by women.
Candyskin.com India’s youngest online lingerie destination. Every great brand starts with passionate, visionary CEO’s like these founder sisters, Richa and Riya Kalra. They have revolutionised the lingerie industry with their innate style and panache. Today their online store has a following of over 5,00,000 women across India. Their remarkable garments highlight the importance of pushing boundaries through cultural exchange and emphasise the fact that spending time in unfamiliar settings is vital for creative development.
Candyskin was born to give the ladies a breathtaking experience. They found that the Indian lingerie market was sorely lacking a product for women like themselves—cool, fashion-savvy women who aren’t looking for boring basics but also aren’t looking to splurge on luxury lingerie but can obtain the same fit, look and feel.
Basically, it all started as the sisters wanted to give birth to the fabulous X-factor feeling and experience that was always missing. So, their collections scream deliciousness out loud which makes women come to life, and help them fuel that confidence, grace, and elegance within themselves.
For them, comfort is the key and they believe that great lingerie can uplift your mood and boost a woman’s confidence greatly. Besides, they also believe that lingerie is for all ages. Why grow old when sexy isn’t a shape, it’s an attitude. And, their journey has been a fantastic one so far.
The sisters plan to make Candyskin a global brand as well and very open to experimenting new avenues and explore new markets as well. They have plans to tap into a lot of segments in the near future.
A young girl who saw the vacuum in the Indian lingerie space decided to do something about it and launched an innerwear label online. Grishma Patil, Founder and Director, Candour London, who has lived in Central London for quite some time, came out with a peppy, colourful and youthful range of lingerie.
As Grishma had lived in London for four years during her studies, she was exposed to the best lingerie brands such as M&S, Agent Provocateur, and others. But when she came to India, she realised that “lingerie shopping here was monotonous and lacked the variety which is seen internationally and also connect to the youth missing. With the desire to fill this gap, Candour London was born,” she says.
Grishma loved shopping for lingerie and the sheer variety available in a range of colours and styles is what left her enchanted. However, as she mentioned earlier, in India, she felt there was tremendous need for improvement in almost every aspect of intimate wear. From excellence, exposure, craftsmanship and availability, hardly anything met the customers’ expectations.
The enterprising lady saw the need to improve and bring in the fun and youth elements to the Indian lingerie market. Hence, Candour’s brand philosophy is ready to fill this gap and by making women feel beautiful on the inside. Fitting is an extremely important aspect for every woman and Candour is ready to give women their perfect fitting, comfortable lingerie wardrobe, which would make her feel confident and fashionable in her skin. The Candour collection is exquisite, seamless and sensuous, which ensures no visible lines. Candour is honest and candid, true to its name and the bold carefree ways of the brand also extends towards its business practices, as they swipe out seasonality from their brand existence and are gear up to offer new collections every two months. With a strong youth connect, Candour targets the youth in the age bracket of 25-30 and is completely open to follow a 360 degree marketing approach to reach the women of today in her comfort space.
The urge to do something different usually motivates people to scale great heights in life. And that is what happened with Ms Jigna Shah, Owner, Inner Line, a multi-brand lingerie store based in Mumbai.
It all started about 25 years ago when Jigna got married in the year 1993. “I was just married a couple of years and mulling of doing something. My father had gifted me a property as a wedding gift. We had about 8-9 shops between Mulund and Thane and while I was in college I was a part of my father’s business,” says Ms Jigna.
After marriage, since Jigna wanted to do something and since she was interested in hairdressing and haircutting she did a six-month course with Nalini & Yasmin who were very famous back then. “I thought I would open a salon but after the training, I thought it was not my cup of tea. Also, on the business side, I did not want to be so dependant on the staff,” Ms Jigna says,
And then, one fine day, she thought, why not lingerie; so, she went scouting, looking at other lingerie stores in Mumbai and Pune and finally decided that this was she wanted to do. And that’s how Inner Line was born in 1993. When she started it was a small 300 sq ft shop and in around 2003, she bought the other 750 sq ft from her father and today the store spreads across 1000 sq ft.
They have an all-women staff, which Ms Jigna believes has got them loyal customers (little girls who are now adults), who are their strength.
While speaking about the brand Inner Line, Ms Jigna says that the multi-brand outlet stocks most of the top 10 labels and also local brands. She tells us, “The belief was that I can offer my customer what they want…from a 200 rupee bra to a 5,000 rupee one.” Also, the display of bras in the store is very unique, size-wise, under every size, padded, non-padded, wired, non-wired and one piece of each style of the brands is put up. Hence, selling is very easy. And it’s been 25 long years and the journey has been beautiful so far Ms Jigna says. She also believes that the Indian lingerie industry has come a long way in terms of needs, requirements, wants, desires, etc., from the consumers’ point of view and also from people who are actually making the product.
Some people just love to leave their comfort zones and take the unconventional route. Same is the case with Pallavi Khandelwal, founder of The Boxer Store that offers fun and quirky boxers for men.
Before I started The Boxer Store (TBS), I had graduated from Nottingham University, UK, specialising in Finance and Investments. However, I always wanted to do something in the creative space.
When I started TBS, e-commerce was just picking up and there was a severe lack of availability in the market for designer innerwear for men. I decided to give the business venture a shot.”
Designed and manufactured in India, TBS takes fun to another level. It is unique and its quality speaks for itself. You’ll see a swarm of unconventional designs in their collection. The concept of TBS is to dump your boring boxers offered in ‘cotton’ and other materials with astonishingly lame prints. Also, Pallavi is an out-of-the-box thinker who tries to bring simplicity with humour. “Our label just makes sure that users have a wide range of designs available to them under one single roof. We make sure that we don’t cross the limit with our slogans and designs and that the designs are humorous enough but also not uncomfortable to wear in general,” says Pallavi.
But creating a brand like this was not an easy task and the journey saw many challenges. “It has been a real learning experience for me. There have been ups and downs, but mostly everything has taught me a lot in terms of people management, operations, finances, etc.,” admits Pallavi.
According to Pallavi the market of inner wear in India is gearing up due to many factors. She says, “I think inner wear is really picking up in India, especially with respect to online selling. However, there is still time for it to become a full fledged vertical. Indians still prefer to buy offline and men especially are not the primary customers. We still have countless users who transfer their buying decision on to their spouse or mothers.
Sheela Kochouseph Chittilappilly
A dynamic business woman, Ms Sheela Kochouseph Chittilappilly is well known for her Kerela based lingerie brand V-Star. Having marked its inception in 1995 V-Star, under the supervision of Ms Sheela, today, is a flourishing and leading lingerie and intimate wear label across India and abroad.
Sheela was born in a family that introduced her to the craft of business, especially the one that left her fascinated by garment making at a young age. Her father was the first business man she knew who had a Textile cum Jewellery shop and used to work hard and spend his day in the shop. “He was so focussed and involved in all matters of the shop. I had my preliminary knowledge about textile and garments from our own shop. From my experience I could recognise the fabric, silk from the polyester through feel and touch. Later from my college I could get more knowledge scientifically from my home science class where all lab tests were explained to us,” says Sheela.
From stitching dresses for dolls, Ms Sheela shifted to working in the family shop where she started making school dresses, skirts and blouses. In the year 1995, she brought together a team of 10 people some designers, embroideries and cutters, to start the clothing brand V-Star. However, running a business in a partially male dominated arena may not be supported hugely. There were a number of factors that boosted Ms Sheela’s entrepreneurship to success. She is a steadfast lady who has always stuck to hard work. The initial five years of V-Star were a struggle for her. “I really had to fight my way through the hurdles. There have been instances when I felt like giving up. However, my basic knowledge helped me to scrutinise others’ work, especially the pattern master, the purchase manager, suppliers, so no one could cheat me,” she says.
Her frankness also reflects in her approach towards business. “I had definite business plans and always tried to give something better to the customers than the products available in the market,” she tells us.
During the last 20 years, V Star has evolved as a major player in the industry. It exports, retails at the big malls in the city and is readying for expansion. The brand, which branched into Vanessa (innerwear for women) and Valero (innerwear for men) is now back under the former brand name V-Star.
The Lingerie Shop is changing the cultural attitudes towards shopping for women’s lingerie in India! Founded by Radhika Goenka, Brand Lingerie Shop is the one-stop destination for everything ‘lingerie’. It aims at breaking the stereotype in intimate wear by offering bespoke products with a serious mix of fun, sexy, fit, and comfort.
Last year, Radhika Goenka, heiress to the Welspun Group, took the first step and started her own line of women’s innerwear—Lingerie Shop, an online destination for all things lingerie, in Mumbai. Says Radhika about the name, “The Lingerie Shop is a market place, which is a brand of its own. We at lingerie shop provide bespoke products and services, which have been created to enhance the lingerie shopping experience for women.”
About the brand itself, Radhika explains, “Our brand fits you like second skin. Each lingerie piece is hand-made, tailored. And I have spent months in Hong Kong figuring out the material and mesh. It’s like a marriage between the cup and the customer. We need to fit them really beautifully and everyone is a different person, so I believe every bra should be made for a different individual. We have gone into a lot of detailing on the cup design itself with the knit work and the machine work on the cup. A lot of thought is gone into the design and detail process.”
Radhika is also actively involved in the designing the products as well. Though she says they have a great design team, she herself chooses the patterns and fabric. The label identifies opportunities with the happenings in the lingerie space. “We go with what’s going on in the market. If we see any new activity happening on the market place, we grasp it. And, any new thing happening, we are always engaged in them or a cool fun collaboration,” Radhika explains.
With period panties and organic perfumes, they are also launching touch screen vending machines in the next few months at airports and malls. As far as the view on the current lingerie market in India is concerned, Radhika says, “It’s all digital and we have a long way to go when it comes to the growth aspect. That’s where the crowd is at, and offline in shop and malls.”
La Perla is set to make a foray in India with their online e-commerce platform Laperla.in and at the helm of affairs is the gorgeous and dynamic Sapna Sherawat, CEO of the legendary lingerie brand. We trace her journey and what she loves about lingerie and of course La Perla the most.
La Perla made an entry in the country’s capital a couple of years ago and Sapna herself visits Milan for the buy. The double major from York University has great plans for the ultra fashionable label.
Her personal style that ranges from Italian designer Alberta Ferretti to Russian designer Miroslava Duma, Sapna says that La Perla works across occasions. The brand no doubt, is known for its luxury innerwear crafted from excellent silk, micro jersey, lace. However, it also creates ready-to-wear pieces under the creative genius of Julia Haart.
While on the versatile pieces of La Perla, Sapna cites and example of the Freesia bodysuit that can be teamed with velvet trousers as well as a sari! This also happens to be the label’s best selling piece. Sapna herself teams a blue silk camisole from the Maison range with trousers or a high-waisted skirt and even beneath a formal pantsuit. She says that the best part of these pieces is that they work as outerwear as well as innerwear. For her, it’s all about luxury while not compromising on comfort. Yet, her style is classic and a tad bohemian as well, while being contemporary.
The elegant lady loves to stay practical no matter where she travels, as she takes on the brand’s India e-retail venture in her inimitable style, which is to be launched by November.