Innerwear, more commercially recognized as lingerie in the women’s wear market and considered as the second skin of a woman, primarily hidden behind apparel, has today become a more fashionable commodity, that have moved far beyond basics. With a lot of aspects triggering the growth of this market segment, according to industry reports, the lingerie market is projected to see better results in the next five years to 2016, driven by the advent of modern technologies and fabrics…
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, moulded T-shirt bras, and fashionable products like bodysuits, long line bras, teddys, camisoles and corsets.
Sparking the most recent and popular trend of ‘innerwear as outerwear’ with influential celebrities like Lily Allen, Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessie J and Rihanna, spotted wearing this look in various public events, making fashion fiestas craving for the same in retail stores. Even designers like Dior, Stella McCartney and Dolce & Gabbana regularly use the ‘innerwear as outerwear’ trend in their collections, recommending layering different fabrics, such as a silk lace trimmed camisole underneath a leather biker jacket. Increased media interest in the woman’s body and new trends towards achieving the hourglass figure, have all helped boost sales within the sector. British bra boutiques are also being pushed to offer better fitting services, driven by heightened consumer awareness about bra buying, thanks to TV shows including ‘How to Look Good Naked’ and What Not To Wear’.
The growth of the lingerie market is a worldwide phenomenon. Projected to be worth $ 32 billion in the US by 2016, even the more conservative UK lingerie market has seen continual growth over the period 2006-2010, performing well throughout the recession and within the current economic climate, with the market being recorded at an estimated £ 2.93 billion in 2010, increasing by 17.8% over the 5-year review period. The most surprising revolution is the upcoming lingerie market in Muslim countries with a growing number of women in Arab nations wearing North American lingerie as Western companies expand into these markets.
With slightly lower hems and largely altered advertisements making the look a little more modest, Canadian lingerie retailer La Vie en Rose has made the most recent entry into the Arab market. The lingerie retailer has 55 stores across the world. Saudi Arabia is the company’s biggest Middle East customer, with 29 stores in that country alone. The company plans to add another six stores there and two more in Kuwait. Another international company, Limited Brands, whose stores include Bath and Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and La Senza, recently agreed to start working with a franchise operator in the Middle East, La Senza opened its first newly designed store in the Middle East last year.
Recent sales in this sector have also been encouraged by new innovations and consumers’ desire to achieve idealistic body shapes through the use of shapewear, for both men and women. Shapewear products that can help with desired looks, from correct brassieres to tummy-clinching briefs, bust-enhancing bras are selling to teens as well as to career and more mature customers. Even though shapewear is considered as an expensive category, consumers are willing to pay more for garments that make them look good, as the value-add that this category offers makes shapewear less price-sensitive than other lingerie items. Flatter stomachs, nipped-in waists, slimmer thighs, perkier butts and fuller busts are now achievable for women using power stretch fabrics. The market for men’s shapewear is also growing, as a seamless and forming shape can be achieved underneath outfits like tuxedos and formal wear which usually require a man to look sleeker and bolder. With a lot of men taking notice of this feature, not only is traditional retailer M&S getting in on “mirdles” (male girdles), Figleaves and many men focused retailers also selling their own ranges.
With the present marketplace being fairly overcrowded, particularly among the higher-end retailers, tough completion is being predicted, as many companies and brands are ready to enter the industry. The launch of the iconic Victoria’s Secret in 2012 in the UK market for the very first time is expected to create competition among luxury retailers, which will further create opportunities for new innovations and collections as retailers compete within the market. Even online retail for lingerie is a booming market, which is expected to remain successful, with companies such as figleaves.com able to sell a vast range of branded goods.