Shapewear is fairly common in the western countries and now its demand is emerging in India too. There is plethora of brands offering various kinds of this ‘wonder’ garment.
Everybody wants to look good. Being slim and fit is one important aspect of good looks; however, not all are endowed with slim body or great silhouettes naturally. Many slim people also have to experience a ‘flab’ phase in their lives at one time or another. The reasons could range from poor eating habits, less active lifestyle, illness, etc., or like in case of women, motherhood. Conscious of their outer appearance, they wish to eliminate all their flab instantly. Here, not a miracle, but an apparel technology in the form of shapewear, comes to their rescue. Shapewear or foundation garment is basically a type of underwear that flattens the wearer’s body to give a toned figure instantly.
Shapewear is fairly common in the western countries, especially among women. It’s even worn by female models, celebs and Hollywood stars to achieve that ‘hour glass’ figure. The demand for shapewear is now emerging in India also. There is plethora of brands offering various kinds of this ‘wonder’ garment.
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Apprises Richa Pania, Sales and Marketing Director, Swee, “Shapewear, in India, is still a new concept. The awareness and growth of this garment category in India mostly started around 2010. The trend gradually picked up by around 2012, as many major players started entering the market.”
“The shapewear category in India has grown remarkably in recent years. I have been selling them since year 2000. It started to draw significant attention from 2011 onwards. When we advertised in the print media at that time, we got a huge positive response. Thereafter, we also started promoting on digital medium, via TV commercials on various shopping channels. Today, every e-commerce website and almost all television shopping channels give a good focus to this category,” states Veena Soni, Founder and Owner, Lace and Me.
Agreeing that the country’s shapewear market started trending about six years ago, Dermawear’s Business Development Manager, Rezon Lopes tells, “There was an existing need in the market for such products which was initially catered only by Chinese products. Sensing the potential trend, several local and international brands forayed into the market.”
With time, people are increasingly accepting shapewears. “People are ever more figure conscious and want a quick and easy way to look slimmer, and shapewear helps fulfill their desire. The instant result they give to the wearer is making this segment very popular. Nowadays, all kinds of people, including people from the glamour industry, office goers, housewives or college girls, are buying this stuff,” notes Soni.
“It’s not practical for everyone to work out every day or diet to maintain body shape; hence people are looking for alternatives in slimming,” says Lopes. Pania as well affirms the trend, “The reception of shapewear is growing rapidly in tier -I and tier -II cities, due to the increasing awareness and knowledge about the product,” she observes.
A propos the market segmentation, Lopes states that the category is still maturing, so it’s difficult to segment it. The consumers are, at present, understanding the functionality. As they become more appreciative of it, they will look for more variety in terms of segments. “However, the amount that most consumers are willing to spend to get a hang of the product is low; therefore, the products with economic pricing are the best selling products,” he shares. Soni also affirms that economy is the fastest selling category, “We have different kinds of products in shapewear. Even as we are garnering sales from all price segments, the economy segment, in particular, is getting good sales.”
According to Pania, their brand caters to all segments. Starting from basic seamless collection for daily makeover, they also offer seamless hooked up collection and the gem shapewear collection which is a designer collection. Every range has got its unique features, says she; and goes on to add that their company uses wiking technology for sweat absorption in all shapewears. Also, they have power nets for targeted compression, whereas the seamless collections make sure that the comfort level is at its best.
Soni also apprises on their product offerings that includes a wide collection of corsets, tummy shapers, thigh shapers, tummy control belts, tummy control panties and full body shapers that come in varying quality and price range. She also informs that they use advanced manufacturing technology to bring high quality products. Different fabrics are used for different products which are normally spandex, cotton or polyester mix fabric.
According to Lopes, ‘short styles in economic range’ are presently trending on top in the category. Pania lists ‘trendy shapewears with high- end comfort level’ as the current favourite product while Soni feels that Indian consumers are mostly focused on ‘tummy shapers’ range.
It is noteworthy that shapewear consumption in India is influenced by various demographic and socio-economic factors. “Yes, socio- economic factors do affect the consumption,” quips Lopes. He shared that their survey shows that educated and people living in metro cities are more conscious about the way they look. Hence, most of the consumption comes from metros. Further, teenagers, corporates and women post delivery are more inclined to try them.
Acknowledging that demographics and socio-economic factors are critical to the category consumption, Pania informs, “For this reason, we offer a complete range of shapewear that cater to different segments and classes of the consumers.” She further shares that women in the age group of 25 to 45 are more into shapewear. Women use this foundation clothing as daily use item since it provides them with a perfect makeover every day.
According to Soni, earlier, the consumers mainly came from Class A and B cities. Now there is spurring demand from Class C cities as well. Growing economy and increasing purchasing power favourably impacts the growth of the shapewear market. She also highlights that although the market build up began with women, but now men are also giving much attention to this category.
Pania and Lopes as well notify the trend that shapewear is no longer just a women thing. “As of now, shapewear is more popular with women as compared to men. It is now gaining acceptance among men also,” says Pania. “Shapewear is more popular among women. However, men are also gradually taking to the idea and are eager to try it out,” says Lopes.
Although shapewear has already presented itself as a promising innerwear segment in India, but it still has a long way to go! As per Pania, the main market challenge is that shapewear as yet has not gained its due recognition and acceptance. Another big challenge is the lack of awareness among the bulk of prospective consumers.
Educating the customer is the major challenge. The customer needs to know about selecting the right product as per the requirement and selecting the correct size as per body type. As the category is still nascent, the customers are not aware about the products and the variety that is available, feels Lopes.
Soni opines that the heavy online discounts are a spoilsport for the category prospects. She rues that some online vendors sell low quality products or fake products by using the imagery of established brands which not only brings a bad name to a brand but also shakes the buyer’s confidence in the efficacy of product itself. Quality is very important for this product category, she asserts, adding, it’s a slow game but the product will eventually win the consumer confidence.
Perhaps, special packaging with special focus on product attributes communication, can also help boost the know-how about the product. Lopes apprises that the packaging has to be self-explanatory and educative in itself. It highlights the important attributes on the front side of packing, especially the points that make the product different from others. It also includes an FAQ card with every box that has all the basic queries answered.
“We have introduced a very special high quality packaging for our new collection so that women can easily preserve the packaging and store the product for long,” informs Pania. Soni also acknowledges that good packaging does matter; although she prefers to focus more on the product itself. As per her, it is the product quality which speaks at the end.
Exhibiting every sign of growing awareness and rising demand, shapewear has already presented itself as a promising sub-category in the booming Indian innerwear market. At present, shapewear products are largely retailed through brick and mortar lingerie stores, online stores and teleshopping platforms.
Soni reminisces, “Till a couple of years ago, very few elite shops used to stock shapewear. The scenario has changed dramatically and today, we see almost every big or small store selling them.” According to her, the category is doing well in both channels—online as well as offline retail. Seconds Pania that shapewear is now gaining a strong foothold in the Indian market. She, however, also maintains, “Although the product is available in most lingerie outlets, there is still a scope for it in the regular clothing stores.” Lopes concludes by saying, “Shapewear is slowly but surely getting popular. The consumer response, by now, has been quite encouraging and the category is growing at a steady pace pan India.” Shapewear is not just a fad but is here to stay, echoed the trio!