More than just a key element for utility or basic support, lingerie/intimatewear has attained and is eventually poised to hold an irreplaceable position in the fashion and apparel industry. Be it for the activewear support, the daily 9 to 5 essentials, or simply the most go-to attire for lounging around the house in times of the pandemic, the intimatewear/loungewear market has significantly boomeranged back to almost pre-COVID-19 sales and profits in the shortest period of time. In fact, even before coronavirus, the category formulated about 4 per cent of retailed womenswear products (US & UK combined), while on a global level, it was projected to reach US $ 325.36 billion by 2025, according to Allied Market research.
#StayHomeStaySafe championed the PJ comfort culture elevating loungewear, while the resurgence of home workout culture propelled the functional intimatewear category towards higher demand. One Indian brand is harnessing this opportunity through its constantly growing private label. With myriad of fits, designs and utilities ranging from easy regular fundamental silhouettes to bold ostentatious ensembles, Wunderlove by Westside offers a varied assortment of items including vibrant bras, underwear, stylish camisoles, nightgowns and even shapewear right under one umbrella.
Lorraine Cuthbert, Head – Lingerie and SleepWear, Westside, talks about the private label, “Our brand aims at revamping the wearer’s ‘bra wardrobe’, and is dedicated to every modern customer willing to feel beautiful, confident and powerful from the inside and out.” Lorraine identifies the USP of the label as its versatile yet affordable range under one roof. “We also focus on providing value, which is not just price, but also the total experience plus value,” she says.
The intimate needs post pandemic
As consumers become more conscious about spending money due to the foreboding currency crash in the country, there has been a rising demand for comfortable bras that cater to every mood. Lorraine specifies, “We have seen growth in categories such as no-wire lounge bras, crop tops, soft bras and sports bras. Ladies are likewise paying unmistakable fascination to the texture utilised and are putting resources into supportable items that are 100 per cent cotton.”
Another trend the label has tapped is adding an innovative edge in design details as well as materials and fabrics, including lingerie with cooling and anti-bacterial properties. In terms of hues, the top trending colours in the post-lockdown period were neutral tones, smoky lilac, dusky pink and mélanges in grey.
The label ensures product excellence in shapewear as well, making this range that helps flatten the silhouette a hot-seller amongst its consumers. Moreover, adding aesthetical value to functional pieces, Wunderlove offers shapewear with value addition of trims including fine mesh panels, laces and finishes such as shiny satins.
Wunderlove also boasts of offering in the loungewear category which is witnessing a massive surge, as consumers are humming the mantra of ‘Today’s PJs are tomorrow’s pants’ while staying at home. Wunderlove’s exclusive Supersoft range utilises materials like viscose elastane and silhouettes like joggers with rib hems, wide-leg bottoms combined with tees along with sets like button down PJs in woven and knitted cotton, in classic prints and patterns right from smart stripes to playful polka dots.
Talking about her favourite pieces from the collection, Lorraine highlights their relaxed super-soft jogger and seam-free crop top that can be worn as traditional underwear or with joggers for lounging and the comfort jacquard bra – which ensures support and full coverage without the use of uncomfortable underwires.
Sizing is everything
Wunderlove’s research has highlighted that about 80 per cent of Indian women were estimated to buy the wrong size and fit of the bra, which further led to strain on women’s shoulder muscles, causing severe back problems. “The right size can improve one’s posture, makes one’s clothes fit better along with giving confidence. All women should check on their sizes, preferably every 6 months, as your bra size is liable to change due to weight gain, loss, and age,” suggests Lorraine.
However, as women are now introspecting and spending more time in getting the size right, the option of getting it ensured by quality professionals is the way to go, as Lorraine talks about the in-store experience Wunderlove offers, where the ‘Wunderlove Girls’ are experts in women’s lingerie and are trained about the nuances of measuring and fitting a bra for the perfect fit. “With great product knowledge, our girls will not only guide on the correct size, but will also suggest the right style and shape of bra. If you still don’t know what size perfectly fits you, have a one-on-one expert fitting at the Westside stores with the Wunderlove Girls who will give you their undivided attention,” she adds.
The buying game
As per Lorraine’s own experiences, she maintains that India is now as big a retail hub as much as it is a sourcing hub, due to the influx of international brands penetrating the domestic markets, enabling customers to expect more from a brand. With access to more information regarding this segment, customers can now demand and expect the latest fashionable trends. “When I first came to India, the market was dominated by a few brands, and most of them lacked variety and style,” says Lorraine, “We saw a gap in this segment which propelled us to introduce Wunderlove. The market has evolved tremendously since then.”
The pandemic has highlighted the boom of e-commerce and the need of a strong online presence as the key to some brands’ survival. Being a category where the fit is crucial and returns are not favoured by several online players, the need to guide the customer to make sure that the shopping experience is effortless and pleasant takes centre stage. “As for shopping bras online, information is the key, be it tips on how to measure yourself to find the right size and advice on what shape and style to buy. In my experience, once a customer finds a bra she loves, she will bulk-buy on the internet,” observes Lorraine.
Along with the same, it has become crucial to propel consumers towards bricks-and-mortar and convince them about the safety of the process. “In-store shopping will continue to function, as there will be customers who will want to shop offline. Hence, stores need to evolve by developing contactless spaces, suitable products and new selling strategies to make shoppers feel comfortable and safe. We are committed to this practice,” says Lorraine.
The changing consumer buying patterns are also affecting the sourcing patterns of several retailers as faster turnaround times in order to showcase a wider and versatile offering with reduced quantities of garments per style, along with faster logistics to accommodate the buffer of quarantining merchandise at each level of supply chain from ex-store to end consumer.
For Wunderlove, the pandemic has enhanced their affinity towards India as a sourcing hub. Lorraine furthers, “The effect of COVID-19 has left everyone re-examining their strategies and ways of buying. The consumer demands are ever changing and we need to be able to react quickly by offering desired items quicker. In this ‘quicker lead time’, it is only advantageous to buy from India.” This goes in line with their earlier buying practices, “Our preference has always been to source from India. However, due to the complexity of bras, sometimes, we also source from the Far East and Bangladesh. We also have manufacturing hubs in Indonesia and Africa,” she concludes.