Considered a basic necessity, intimatewear as a product category has been and would continue to be in demand irrespective of market dynamics, geographical locations, gender and age group. Renowned German poet, playwright and theatre director of 20th century, Eugen Berthold Friedrich ‘Bertolt’ Brecht, once observed: “From the cradle to the coffin, underwear comes first…,” which in itself sums up the value and importance of this humble piece of undergarment without which no apparel ensemble is complete.
As per a report published by Allied Market Research titled Intimate Wear Market by Gender, Age Group, Price and Distribution Channel – Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecasts, 2014-2022, the global intimatewear market is expected to generate an astounding US $ 250 billion by 2022 while Technavio’s market research report (Global Intimate Apparel Market 2017-2021) predicts a steady growth for the global intimatewear market, expected to post CAGR of more than 4% during the period, which is a far cry for many other product categories to say the least.
Americas in the lead!
In terms of products, the world bra market in 2016 was worth US $ 16.42 billion with bra accounting for 55.5% of the world lingerie market while the world brief market was US $ 9.90 billion, and accounting for 33.5% of the total lingerie market. In this vibrant intimatewear market – characterized by the presence of multiple established players offering wide variety of products with focus on product innovations, a significant number of players are concentrating on maintaining their dominance in the market by acquiring new brands leading to heightened competition amongst the vendors. They are constantly in pursuit of enhancing their product portfolios by introducing innovative and advanced products in an effort to prevail over the competitors based on factors such as price, quality, brand and variety. Americas contributed to the maximum share of the intimate apparel market during 2016 as per Technavio, which further underlined its continuing dominance in the coming years.
However, as per another research by Transparency Market Research (done in 2015), Europe is expected to take the lead by 2024 (and acquire a market share of 33.64%).
Business shift from China and increased global demands lead manufacturers to augment capacity and build competencies
Upper innerwear rules 2016
Dwelling on the performance of products segment-wise (upper innerwear, lower innerwear and shapewear), Technavio predicts a bright future for upper innerwear segment (which includes vest, muscle vest, sleeved vest, push-up bras, padded bras, minimizer bras, seamless bras, nursing bras, sports bras, and strapless bras), which has dominated the market during 2016. The growing trend for customization and the availability of these products in correct shapes and comfortable sizes would further push the purchase volume, the report suggests, adding that the wide ranging availability options between rich-looking fabrics, laces, embroideries and bright colours would drive the segment’s growth.
The increased focus of women on the way they carry themselves, and how products such as bras and shapewear can help maintain a positive body shape, is going to give further impetus, augmented by growing number of women taking part in fitness-related activities. Additionally, the focus of top lingerie brands on aesthetically appealing athletic innerwear is also expected to propel this demand.
The growth channels
The wide variety of lingerie products being made available across numerous channels like never before has added a new dimension to the intimatewear market. Amongst these channels (specialty stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets, department stores, online retailers), specialty stores – considered the principal shopping destination for consumers since they sell a wide range of branded intimate apparel and offer products exclusively in a single category – ruled the roost in the past year.
Making its presence felt strongly is also the e-commerce, which has made online shopping easier, comfortable besides saving valuable time. Many vendors now sell their products not only through their online portals, but also through other online portals which besides increasing their market share also enable them to penetrate new marketplaces across geographical locations, many of which may not have access to such products, thereby opening up new growth opportunities.
Bangladesh in perspective
Renowned for volume and basic products, garment manufacturers/exporters of the world’s second biggest exporting nation are slowly but surely making efforts in shifting towards value-added and critical products that have decent global demands and the ability to command better price points.
Strong in knits (with majority of the top players being vertically-integrated), lingerie is strongly emerging as the preferred choice amongst the exporters to beat the market blues while also making their presence felt globally.
According to Eurostat and USITC data, export of lingerie items to the European Union and the United States stood at US $ 600 million in 2016 while according to industry insiders, the total export earnings from overall export of lingerie items was more than US $ 1 billion in FY 2016-17. According to them despite the negative growth in the US market due to fall in price the product category registered increased earnings from the European Union.
“I think the lingerie market is growing. It’s a potential market for Bangladesh. Earlier most of the lingerie items were picked up from China. Even though China is still the No. 1 lingerie supplier but a lot of business is moving to Bangladesh as China is increasingly becoming expensive,” maintains Eleash Mridha, Managing Director of Chorka Textile Limited, a comparatively new but strongly emerging player in innerwear in the country.
Says Engineer Zakir Hossain, Chairman of Hypoid Group, involved in manufacturing intimatewear for more than a decade, “Lingerie is growing and would continue to do so… China market is declining due to wage hike, so countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have very good opportunity to take the market share.”
Mridha’s observation is strongly seconded by Fahmida Ali, Director of Ali & Haque Fashions Bangladesh – a Dhaka-based buying house that sources intimatewear apart from other woven and knit items for a wide range of clientele. “Bangladesh has huge potential… As the Chinese market is shrinking, Bangladesh can cash in on this opportunity. Earlier China was the sole destination for lingerie but now Bangladesh has also become a good player…,” Fahmida maintains.
To give you are insight on how Bangladesh is shaping up to cater to the global demands of intimatewear, Apparel Resources brings to you in-depth interviews with four intimatewear manufacturers and a buying house to know their plans and future strategies to bank on this opportunity while also understanding their game plan and perspectives on lingerie, seen by experts as a prime growth driver for the Bangladesh apparel industry.