Strong, smart, stylish, sporty and practical – innerwear in India has evolved from being a basic necessity to an extension of one’s personality. From walking into a discreet store to quickly buy a couple of plain nether garments in the past, today, innerwear is prominently displayed on mannequins, whether it is your local shop or gigantic stores in malls. So what is driving this fast-paced evolution of men and women’s innerwear market in India?
Innerwear has emerged as one of the fastest growing fashion categories and over a 10-year period from 2018 to 2028, women’s innerwear segment is expected to grow from Rs 21,000 crore to Rs 68,000 crore at an impressive CAGR of 12.5 per cent. In parallel, the men’s innerwear segment is expected to scale up from Rs 11,000 crore to Rs 21,800 crore during the same period, at an expected CAGR of 7 per cent. Today, customers can purchase innerwear from local shops and gigantic stores in malls, as well as via e-commerce websites in a matter of a few clicks. The range of designs, fabrics, cuts, colours and styles for every body type and demand is mind boggling. This begs the question, what is driving this fast-paced evolution of men and women’s innerwear market in India?
The Ever-Evolving Consumer
The Indian consumer is rapidly evolving. Exposure to social media, rising fashion awareness, the demand for different types of innerwear, and an understanding of health and hygiene is driving the unprecedented growth in the innerwear market. Add to the mix our country’s increasing disposable incomes, rise in women spenders, demand for branded luxury innerwear and expansion of the retail sector, and you end up with a recipe for phenomenal growth. A key turning point is also that Indian consumers are now more empowered. Their choice of innerwear has become a reflection of their personality and a way of expression.
Tech-Powered Innovation & Design
Leading-edge technological innovation, design and fabric is changing the face of innerwear in India and contributing to the immense growth of the segment. Women have a plethora of options suitable for every occasion. Whether it is an underwired for added support, a strapless for an evening gown, a sports bras for working out, a front-open or push-up, research and innovation have made it possible to combine new-age design and style with comfort and fit to fulfil every need. Product ranges are now focused on prioritising consumer experience customised to different lifestyle stages.
Similarly, the men’s innerwear category has evolved from being a rudimentary segment to one that now boasts of innovation. Today, you will find briefs, boxers, vests and trunks that are designed to be more breathable, comfortable, skin-friendly, and hygiene-oriented.
Advancements in technology have also brought in newer fabrics. Use of technology enables innerwear to be constructed with fabrics that have greater stretch, dry faster, have antimicrobial finishes and ensure protection from odour. While cotton continues to rule the roost, consumers are embracing these newer fabrics due to benefits such as enhanced performance features, comfort, durability, ease of care, and more.
The emergence of eco-friendly innerwear will transform the innerwear industry. The Indian consumers are becoming more aware and environmentally conscious, and want to buy products from brands that follow ethical and sustainable practices .
Play of E-Commerce
Emergence of dedicated e-commerce portals just for innerwear has proven to be a game changer for consumers and the industry. The privacy, ease of browsing, customised and targeted messaging, and convenience of products reaching the consumer within a couple of days have all played a major role in making this segment blossom. The luxury of easy returns at the comfort of one’s doorstep in case of any dissatisfaction with the product is another crucial factor.
Earlier, there was a certain hesitation in buying something this intimate from physical stores catered to by salesmen. This was especially true for women. However, online stores removed this barrier, allowing both men and women to shop directly from the comfort of their home and at their own discretion. It gave them the opportunity to go through different products and choose at leisure.
The range and scale of products offered by online portals is unmatched and enables customers to buy styles and price ranges not easily accessible in physical stores. Moreover, these online portals have further made it easy for customers to buy with options such as size calculators, exchange and returns. In fact, taking cues from e-commerce players, traditional brands are also launching their own portals and foraying into the B2C space.
Exposure to premium products and international standards of quality and design have enabled consumers to seek innerwear shopping and consumption as an experiential process over just attending to basic essential needs. While e-commerce is here to stay thanks to comfort, convenience and accessibility at the click of
a button, physical outlets will continue to grow since this always provides a more personal experience of touch, feel and exclusive customer service to enable smarter buying decisions.
The emergence of eco-friendly innerwear will transform the innerwear industry. The Indian consumers are becoming more aware and environmentally conscious, and want to buy products from brands that follow ethical and sustainable practices – whether it is exploring eco-friendly fabrics, sustainable manufacturing processes, reducing the carbon footprint or cutting down waste. In fact, a PwC survey revealed that about 21 per cent consumers are willing to pay 5 per cent more to purchase sustainable fashion, including innerwear, and this percentage of customers will only grow. The time is ripe for innerwear brands to build a more sustainable model to contribute their share for the environment and stay ahead of the game.