It’s a known fact that most men hesitate to enter a lingerie store.
It’s hard to be a man in a lingerie shop, especially in a country like India.
Men would get nervous at the sight of on lookers and would rather set themselves aside and be seated outside a store while their better half’s shopped for their intimate needs. Apparently, men would purchase lingerie in retail stores under anonymous names, figuratively ducking into the shop, or pretending not to stare at the shop assistance for guidance. Stealthy creeping, those embarrassed side-glances, the blushes when confronted by a sales assistant were (or are still) the norm. But now, there’s something new happening in the world of lingerie; maybe it’s only a storm in a teacup, but it’s certainly changing the vision for lingerie itself. More Indian men are seen shopping for this intimate piece of clothing, especially online. We delve into this new psychology and endeavour to understand it.
Embarrassment is not the only thing when it comes to men buying lingerie; there is the issue of the lingerie itself.
You do not clarify, name is withheld, whether your fears of looking or feeling ‘too pervy’ are in relation to the shop, or the lingerie itself…the latter is an equally legitimate concern. The main question here is, are times changing?
Are online lingerie stores more beneficial for men for shopping for their counterparts’
intimate wear needs? Recent studies suggest that men are emerging as significant buyers of women’s undergarments thanks to the anonymity the online platforms provide and the number of male buyers rise sharply during occasions such as Valentine’s Day. The purchase of lingerie has gone through a sea of change.
The scenario a decade ago
Ms Richa Kalra, Co-Founder, CandySkin says, “About a decade ago the scenario was similar, however, the percentage was much lesser due to inhibitions.
More men would accompany their wife to buy lingerie but hardly gift them the same. Today the younger generation buys lingerie as a gift for their wife or girlfriend (not necessarily on Valentine’s Day).
Even if they do not buy lingerie by themselves they definitely have a say and opinion thus they accompany women while doing the same. The percentage has increased today compared to even five years ago.
“About 7 per cent of men have bought lingerie online.”
Mr Kunal Asar Sr VP – Retail, PrettySecrets also agrees with Ms Kalra and comments, “Indian men do buy lingerie for their women; however, most of these purchases are occasion based.
We see the number of male buyers rise sharply during occasions such Valentine’s Day or during the wedding season, which also happens to be the wedding anniversary season around November to February.”
Kamuk Life’s CEO, Mr Abhishek Gupta opines, “Lingerie has taken a quantum leap from being a need to a want and buying lingerie and especially intimate lingerie for your women has become a fun and interesting way to improve intimacy among couples. A decade ago, buying lingerie and intimate lingerie was being done by women and that too was done only at time of marriage. Things have thankfully gone beyond Fur, Babydolls and butterfly panties. The online platform makes it easier for men to buy lingerie and explore their naughty side.”
Mr Gaurav Jain, VP – Marketing, fashion e-commerce portal Cilory, says, “Earlier the society was very conservative with women not sharing their intimate needs with their men and longing for support. Buying lingerie was a nightmare for women and they used to be very secretive about their buying choices and even going to a shop was a big effort. With no access to internet or ecommerce, women had limited choices.”
According to Mr Gopi, Founder of Shyaway.com, the lingerie industry in India has improvised tremendously over the years and so has the man’s idea of buying intimates for his woman. “Talking about a decade ago, the stereotyped scenario was something that needed a major breakthrough. Bras and panties were barely discussed by women themselves, leave alone men. Thanks to the Smartphone era, men no more shy away from splurging on lingerie to their loved ones. At the end of the day, it is all about the attention a man gives to smaller details that matters the most in a relationship,” he adds.
Mr Asar says, “Ten years ago, lingerie was only available in MBOs and a few large format stores; however, now the advent of lingerie in department stores, EBOs, and online, which has increased the number of men purchasing lingerie. Brands also now target men customers, especially through online marketing, which wasn’t the case ten years ago. Since it’s online, it’s still private and not ‘open’. However, yes, online lingerie brands do get good traction from men.”
Mr Ovais Dehlvi, Manager Operations, Intimate Street, while speaking about a decade ago, says, “It is quite out in the open now, for a man to purchase for lingerie for his wife / girlfriend. A decade ago there was a scarcity of lingerie brands and the male psyche to step into the unmentionables section was unheard of. Even the men who did had to make their respective purchases quickly.”
Mr Suman Chowdhury, Co-Founder & COO, Clovia says, “Lingerie has always been talked about in hushed voices in our country. It has always been a pain for women to shop from neighbourhood stores as they were mostly run by men. The situation was worse for the Indian men who wanted to buy and gift lingerie for their women. However, with changing times and the expansion of internet penetration in the country, women have become more experimental with their innerwear and men have become more thoughtful and progressive about their gifting options. Availability of the same online has helped immensely.
He adds that there is definitely less inhibition in buying lingerie online, both for men and women. “Online platforms help them explore different options in the comfort of their home, without the hesitation to enter a lingerie store. Men are emerging as significant buyers of women’s lingerie online, thanks to the anonymity it provides.” Also, he mentions that 15 per cent of buyers on Clovia are men. And the figure touches almost 20 per cent during November to February—the wedding season in many parts of the country and hence also the wedding anniversary season. Besides, Mr Chowdhury states that many of these orders ask for gift wrapping.
While PrettySecrets says that over 20 per cent of its buyers on an average are men. They see this go up to 40 per cent during the November to February period.
Online lingerie brand Mr Gupta, says, “Men coming to our site and looking for new styles and good prices. On KamukLife.com about 65 per cent of orders that we get are from men ordering lingerie mostly for there honeymoon, holidays and special occasions.”
Mr Jain concurs this and states, “Yes, we have seen men buying Lingerie online for their women. There are lots of factors influencing this behaviour ranging from more closeness to technology and internet, ladies being shy making choices openly as well as cases where women are short of time or are in situations like pregnancy where access to stores is limited for them.”
According to La Lingerie, the percentage has grown to 100 pre cent since five years. The younger generation is more comfortable shopping at MBO stores as it gives them privacy and confidence and get guidance for the right lingerie size in privacy atmosphere.
“Men have always been buying exotic lingerie for women and now it has become easier as they can buy lingerie. NOTE: Most of them do not know what cup size to buy though,” says Mr Dharmendra Nathvani, Partner, La Lingerie.
Mr Gopi, says, “Of course they do! In fact, let’s give a big shout-out to men who actually drop their inhibitions to go ahead and shop lingerie for their women. Apart from being a romantic gesture, this sweet doing talks more about the intimacy aspect of the couple. When the two are transparent enough to discuss the lingerie needs, there develops a sense of trust and belongingness with each other. Moreover, wouldn’t it be a great idea for a man to awaken his inner Sherlock Holmes and explore those girdles and garters?”
The scenario today…
One would assume the scenario has changed today even from that five years ago, and it has. But how much and has online contributed greatly to this change? Mr Gopi explains, “It is no surprise that men are increasing their interest towards lingerie. In those days, the marketing of lingerie wasn’t responsive for women as it was to men. The majority of men’s idea about women lingerie is something related about sex and seduction. Well, thanks to the technological advancements and lifestyle practices that has made men understand the actual need of lingerie and why it is necessary to help them purchase one.”
Mr Nathvani comments that online has given more confidence for men to buy lingerie, however, they buy the wrong size for their partners. “It has always been a taboo for men to buy lingerie from stores so online platforms have helped men to buy lingerie and is helping in growing the industry though,” he mentions.
“We see the number growing,” states Mr Asar. “EBOs and online lingerie sites have driven this increase. As a result of the anonymity tied to online shopping, men are emerging as significant buyers now,” he adds.
“Time changes everything, nothing remains constant. With the average age of an Indian to be 27 – 28 years by the year 2020, of course the younger generation would be more open by lingerie,” opines Mr Dehlvi.
“In the advent of online platforms he says the percentage should increase if it hasn’t by now. II tier and III tier cities still rely on the online presence to purchase lingerie, not limiting to bras and knickers. They are talking about babydolls, bodies, robes, nightgowns, etc.,” continues Mr Dehlvi.
He goes on to say that in the aspect of ‘anonymity’ the digital world offers this and has been a major contributor to encourage men to buy lingerie. “However, ‘discreet’ packaging contributes as well. Not everyone would know you out on the World Wide Web but neighbours around you do and with assurance of discreet packaging adds an extra reassurance of not being embarrassed of a prying eye,” he tells us.
Mr Jain believes that men buying lingerie and other products for their women has been on the rise. “The numbers do support that this is a growing trend in the society moving towards more openness and care,” he mentions. He too believes that the anonymity of the internet has helped in the online sale of lingerie as buying something like this is always a private affair. And yes, everyone believes that the younger generation is more open to buying lingerie.
Mr Gopi also agrees with Ms Kalra and says that online online shopping has become a thing of ‘now’ as anything and everything can simply be home-delivered in just a click. And, we guess there could be no better option than this to buy lingerie. Apart from securing you with complete privacy, there are hardly any judgmental stares or long trial-room queues which are quite common in a physical store. Also, when you get to virtually explore everything from basic cottons to lacy fancies, online shopping leads the league without doubt,”
Makes a difference to the inventory
So, since men buying lingerie has gone up considerably thanks to e-commerce platforms, it may have even affected the inventory of brands positively. Mr Jain says that men buying Lingerie has opened up the brand’s marketing efforts for both genders equally. “Though we have been cautious to channelise our ads such that they don’t put any of the genders in any embarrassing situation,” he states.
“Yes, the aspects of men buying lingerie have increased and also it has made a difference in our inventory. In general, most of the women go with basic lingerie itself; they do not give more attention to the trendy or a stylish one. But men love to explore and experience new things. When buying lingerie to their women the selection of trendy and sexy lingerie is extensive,” says Mr Gopi.
Ms Kalra says, “The inventory has almost stayed the same as the men take suggestions from our consultants as to what they should buy. Having said that we have expanded the number of styles and type of lingerie we keep.”
Mr Asar mentions, “The impact has not been drastic enough as yet to change buying and stocking patterns.”
To conclude, it looks like with the younger generation being more open-minded and also prone to use the online platforms more than their predecessors, the percentage of men buying lingerie for their women is steadily on the rise. No doubt, the aspect of ‘anonymity’ has triggered more lingerie sales online, but even the wedding season, anniversaries and special occasions contribute to it. The overall percentage at present of men buying lingerie online is somewhere between 15 to 20 and we believe that this would only rise further given the advancement in technology and the high numbers of online shoppers.