A couple of decades ago this was an almost taboo topic; speaking about anything to do with lingerie was always in whispers and shopping for it was most times an uncomfortable activity. Women were not that open in expressing their choices about innerwear and for that matter lingerie was considered only a basic necessity that was to be worn beneath your outerwear without much thought given to the comfort, style or design. In fact, there were hardly any options also available to choose from. However, in recent years, this space has evolved greatly and women have started coming out demanding what they what without hesitation and have even moved from basic lingerie to premium for their daily use. We try to touch the burgeoning market of premium lingerie and its growth further.
What is Premium Lingerie? Lingerie is basic, true, but like we stated earlier, it has moved from being just plain to stylish, trendy and colourful. Most women who have been used to wearing basic styles in their innerwear have now moved on to premium lingerie that is generally high on the fashion quotient and most importantly, comfort.
But what exactly constitutes premium lingerie? How does one define this segment?
Essentially, the popular category ranges from INR 150 to 350 for bras and INR 120-200 for panties. While bras in the premium category are priced at anywhere between INR 500 – 2,500, panties come for INR 200 to 1,250.
Today, women are veering towards premium innerwear for their daily use as they are ready to spend more on it.
The innerwear market in the country itself is pegged at around INR 27,931 crores and is estimated to reach INR 74,258 crores by the year 2027, which translates into a growth of CAGR 10 per cent. And when it comes to premium innerwear, it is witnessing a growth of 20% YOY according to Mr Harminder Sahni, Founder and Managing Director, Wazir Advisors, which is around 5400 crores
According to Mr Siddharth Grover, Director, Groversons Group, the premium lingerie sector in India is in its developing stage and the Indian market has witnessed a considerable change in the lingerie buying pattern, as women today are driven by the factor of style complementing comfort. “The trends even show that now Indian women are open to experimenting with their intimate wear, choosing lacy and colourful patterns. Brands have also started to constantly bring out new lingerie collections every quarter to break the monotony of basics and increase the appeal factor for the women of today.”
Mr Puneet Grover, Floret, too opines that the premium lingerie market is developing in India with a good speed now. Mrs Jagruti A Kadam, co-owner Akshaya Group, (retail outlet in Borivali) says, “ This segment is still evolving and due to the emergence of multi brands in India, the growth is in the right direction. Today’s women are more focused on fit, comfort and trend in the market. Hence, are less hesitant towards increasing their budget in this sector. With this, we foresee the market for premium lingerie booming in the next five years.”
Mr Dipankar Datta, Owner, Beyond Desire, Kolkatta (retail outlet), “The market no doubt has grown and the reason is that these days, women are very conscious of their inner garments. So, the earlier concept of just wearing something is fading away. Rather I see, women in their middle-age, also go in for premium lingerie. They consider most is the brand and look for good supportive bras. Then there are the other set of customers that look for designs, i.e., lacy patterns, etc., which are also very much in fashion and in demand.
The growth curve
Manufacturers, retailers and distributors, all have seen a considerable growth in this segment, which is slowly turning into an important one garnering great profits. Says Mr Dipesh Kubadia, Owner, Sonari, “In the last five years, it has developed very well and the demand for premium lingerie has gone up in the market. People are becoming aware of premium lingerie and its benefits such as the fit, fabric, the support it offers, etc.; hence, the rise in demand. Basic lingerie, which is low-cost looses its shape and the fabric de-shapes after about 5-6 washes, while premium lingerie lasts longer while retaining the fit as well.”
In fact, Mr Kubadia says that ten years ago, women were unwilling to spend much on lingerie as they felt spending on an item like a bra was futile. But, the mindset has changed now, he says and they are aware of the importance of right fit, right fabric, as good fabric causes no allergies and irritations . People have understood the benefits now and so are spending money on lingerie.
Mr Sripal Mehta, founder, Minelli, Koramagalam, and distributor, too states that this segment has grown greatly in the last 4-5 years as the generation has changed. “They’ve upgraded themselves to premium lingerie and are moving from basic to premium as now there’s awareness,” he mentions.
While most state that the segment is very much in existence since the past two decades or so but has seen quantam growth in the past 4-5 years, according to Mr Puneet Grover.
In fact, Mr Mehta feels that there was hardly any scope for brands 10 years ago as the markets hadn’t opened up. There weren’t those many premium lingerie brands apart from, Lovable which was leading this segment for the past 15 years, since then a lot of brands have come up in the market in the premium segment such as Enamor, Amante, Triumph, Pretty Secrets, M&S, etc.,” he says.
Explaining about the market of premium lingerie Mr Sahni says that a decade ago, lingerie was considered to be a piece of clothing that was not discussed out in the open and talked about in hushed tones. Customers wore basic colours such as beige, black or white and did not have many options. “Today, lingerie has come out of its dark closet. From being just a basic utilitarian product to becoming a fashion quotient, lingerie has created a niche for itself in this contemporary market,” he states.
Mr Siddharth Grover, enlightening further on the evolution of this segment says that for the longest period of time, the Indian lingerie industry, hardly witnessed any innovation. Earlier, all the garments were designed keeping in mind only the ‘comfort’ factor. The basic lingerie industry had a stable position, whereas the premium sector was in its pre-mature stage and traditional colours such as black, white and beige were the staple. However, now, there are a plethora of colours that are vibrant along with new and eclectic designs, patterns and styles. Also, new ones are emerging daily as there’s clearly a demand for it.
Mr Ketan Gulati, Director, Kalyani Innerwear Pvt. Ltd., says, “Now customers are more concerned about fitting and comfort so they are slowly moving towards premium lingerie.” He too reiterates that companies are designing according to consumer needs and their lifestyle and hence a wide range of products are available with different design elements.”
A visible shift
The market of premium lingerie has certainly risen greatly over time and brands have witnessed a move by customers from basic innerwear in regular shades to premium lingerie and different shades for their daily wear. Mr Dipesh Kubadia, Owner, Sonari says that their brand has seen a visible shift and about 10-15 per cent of consumers who used basic lingerie have moved to premium lingerie in a span of a decade. “Also, the major difference has come from metro cities, II and III tier cities. The rural areas are yet to move to this lingerie and the masses are still price conscious there and stick to the basic. But the developed areas such as Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, etc., are the ones where we see the shift from basic to premium lingerie. There are areas where there’s a strong IT presence and student community as well.
Citing several reasons for the shift and growth on this segment that is fast becoming a most coveted one for trade, Mr Sahni explains, “The evolution of the lingerie market in India is majorily rooted in urban India. With increasing acceptance of western wear and awareness for occasion and outfit based lingerie, the market has seen a holistic boom. The entry of premium brands in the lingerie segment has changed the concept of lingerie. It is no longer seen as a basic necessity but a fashion accessory that every woman wants in her wardrobe. Consumers have become more aware and adaptable to the ongoing trends which has made it easier for so many brands to enter the market.”
Besides, awareness and innovative designs and styles, technical advancements too are a major reason for this move as there are innovations in the fabric used, which is now no longer restricted to cotton.
Explaining further about the rise in demand and the shift from basic to premium, Mr Sahni states that most of the Indian brands operate in the mass to mid segment, for e.g., Bodycare and Jockey. “Premium segment is largely catered by international brands like Enamor, Amante, Triumph, etc. Consumers in mass and mid category are open to upgrading and look for more comfortable and stylish innerwear. With rising number of women joining the workforce and increase in expenditure on themselves they are ready to pay more for their innerwear and upgrade to the premium segment.
Mr Puneet Grover, concurs that people’s per capita income has gone up in metros and they are shifting towards premium lingerie. So, awareness couples with disposable income has contributed to this shift from basic to premium lingerie. “Moreover, while earlier, lingerie was considered basic, now people follow to the trends and fashion even in innerwear. Also, now there is easy availability in this segment as well and day by day, brands in this segment are increasing in numbers,” Mr Puneet mentions.
Citing the same thoughts Mr Sahni opines that from being just a basic utilitarian product to becoming a fashion quotient, lingerie has created a niche for itself in this contemporary market. “From once being sold largely in the unorganised channel, Indian intimate wear industry has come a long way since then. Owing to the mounting need for quality and comfort, organised channel came into existence and has been growing ever since,” he states. Citing figures that only tell the story of the shift resulting in this segment’s growth, he adds, “In 2010, the Indian lingerie market stood at INR 7,200 crores out of which the premium segment accounted for only 5 per cent of the overall market. Over the years, the premium segment has seen increasing interest by both domestic as well as international players and has therefore grown to account for 20 per cent of the market in FY 2019 which is in the region of 5500 crores today. With rising disposable incomes coupled with fashion consciousness and need for comfort, this segment is sure to evolve further.”
Plethora of Premium Brands:
Mr Siddarth Grover, believes that the Indian lingerie industry has come a long way from being just a primary wear to becoming a fashion quotient. There has been a dramatic change in the industry due to women preferring and selecting innerwear, which can match with their attire, even their purchase have become purpose driven.
Every occasion or time of the day has a specific innerwear to complement the situation, which has led to the increase in demand of premium lingerie because women today are experiencing latest trends towards carrying themselves in public. Moreover, there is an increase in people’s disposable income, and hence buying premium products don’t pinch their pockets anymore and they get their hands on the latest trends as well.
Mr Datta, who has been in the business since the past 4-5 years is of the firm opinion that the shift from basic to premium lingerie, is approximately 30-35 per cent. He says that someone who used to pick a basic lingerie and was given a premium one to try on, would almost always ask for the premium brand the next time she visited the store. According to him, she has clearly moved on and this is the change they’ve experienced in the past 4-5 years.
Mrs Kadam cites social media as one of the reasons for this shift as well. “In addition to social media, the increase in the percentage of independent women has led to an increase in the buying capacity, which in turn has seen a visible shift of masses to premium lingerie. Women today have access to the latest patterns, which has led to premium lingerie gaining an upper hand over the local market who still believe in the old-school method of publicity,” she feels.
Mr Mehta believes that the choice to don premium lingerie depends on the occasion; if they are working women, then they would go for regular basic lingerie, he feels. “But they’ve certainly moved from basic to premium; though this category is very limited and demand for it has been created, hence there is a growth. It has grown more than 50 percent,” he opines.
Products in demand
Bras, panties and shape wear, lacy bras, bralettes, minimisers, lightly padded bars, non-padded underwire bras as they offer more support, strapless bras, lacy sets, corsets.
To conclude one can say that the premium lingerie segment in the country is growing leaps and bounds and would only grow further, perhaps making it a much coveted for regular wear amongst most women.
According to Mr Sahni, “India’s lingerie market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17 per cent until FY 2024 and the premium segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20 per cent.”
As for the share of premium lingerie when it comes to brands, for Groversons it contributes to around 8 per cent of the total sales. “And with emerging demand in the market of this category, we see a great synergy in sales growth in coming years,” says Mr Siddharth Grover. While Floret enjoys a 25 per cent share in this segment and Kalyani too has a share of 20-30 percent and Sonari, too, out of its total sales of lingerie, sells about 20-25 per cent in the premium segment.
So, with rising disposable incomes, women becoming increasingly independent, a rise in the middle-class women joining the workforce, women getting more conscious of their bodies, a greater awareness of brands and styles, and hence the realization and demand for it coupled with comfort has only fuelled the need to more offerings in the premium lingerie segment. In fact, Mr. Gulati believes that about 60-65 per cent of customers will definitely move towards the premium range, as many campaign’s and surveys are going continuously to aware the consumers and also the consumers are changing their mind-set and are ready to invest according to their specific needs.
Market Through Online
With the advent of the online in 2013 also has qualitatively added to the premium market, Customers were able to upgrade themselves to premium lingerie easily because of the great offers that online provided in its infancy to ensnare the customers to gravitate to buying lingerie online. It is through sites like Ziwame, Myntra, Jabong, Clovia, Pretty Secrets and scores of other sites that women across metros and tier 1 cities expressed themselves and tried expensive lingerie which was available to them for less than 50% of its cost. This also fuelled a greater gravitation towards premium lingerie, because the comfort they felt wearing this couldn’t be replaced by their basic brands.
Thus the market for premium lingerie grew during this period. Many brands like Lovable, Enamor, Amante, Triumph sold in great numbers through these platforms during that period.
Today apart from these brands the market has expanded several times over with M & S, Pretty Secret, H & M, Hunkemoller, Wakoal, Van Heusen, and some home grown brands like Juliet “Body’, Sonari ‘Dazzle’ have taken a shot at this market.
Added to the product basket
As the demand rises, brands too, that only offered basic lingerie previously, added to their product basket to cater to the requirements of the customers.
Floret, three years ago launched the Pep-Up bra and very recently, they’ve launched a highly premium segment that ranges from INR 500-800. There are 12 items in this in which there are about 3-4 minimisers, three are padded bras and there are a few sports bras as well.
While Mr Siddharth Grover says that adding premium lingerie to the product basket has become important to move ahead with the changing times. “Therefore, under the premium category we have introduced our latest Paris Beauty International Collection. We have collaborated with international designers with expertise in designing premium lingerie particularly for this exclusive range. It is available in a wide range of colours, prints, laces and intrigue styles, which suits best for those who aspire to look stylish and would not compromise on comfort and value,” he mentions.
Sonari, too has added a range of products priced at INR 550-600 in the premium category. “Along with this, two years ago, we launched a separate premium brand, ‘Dazzle’. So, in the past 8-10 years, the shift that we’ve witnessed amongst the consumers and the move that now they are more inclined towards the premium segment and while watching the market scenario, we have added this brand, Dazzle. So, from where Sonari’s range ends (INR 600), Dazzle’s range starts and goes up to INR 1,500 (for bras). And the panties range from INR 250 to INR 400, while the sets would be INR 1,000 to INR 1,800,” Mr Kubadia sheds lights on the premium products they added in Sonari.
Need of the Hour:
While manufacturers, seeing the need of the hour have added to their product category, retailers can’t be left behind in this revolution as well. Mrs Kadam gives an interesting insight on this. She says, “According to market research, women today have realised that to look good they should feel comfortable inside. Keeping this in mind and the current requirement, we have added some products such as push up/under-wired bra for perfect uplift fit, sports bra for high intensity workout, comfortable and trendy body shapers, casual and comfortable loungewear, super supporting minimiser bras, and organic lingerie.”
Mr Datta believes that here are two types of customers, in the premium lingerie category…one, who want a very good fit and look for very good coverage, and the other type is the one that goes for fashionable products, such as lacy bras with coordinated panties. He explains that they started with premium brands and initially the stock of these brands was less. “For e.g., our stock of premium brands was 20 per cent and the mass brands were 80 per cent. Now it is totally opposite; we have 80 per cent of premium brands and 20 per cent regular brands.” He stocks Triumph, Amante, Enamor and Jockey.
Mr Mehta too has brands such Amante, Enamor, Triumph and they keep bras (lacy, padded, underwired, push ups, backless, seamless) and in panties they have bikinis in lace.