‘New aspirations and lifestyle changes have made buyers more brand conscious’
Yogesh Kabra is a young entrepreneur who is ready to bring a positive change in the innerwear industry with his brand XYXX Apparels. Launched in 2017, XYXX is a new-age, premium category of comfortable innerwear at accessible price points with an edgy and independent streak. The brand offers a varied range of products – trunks, briefs, boxers, jockstraps, vests, pyjamas and t-shirts for men. XYXX specialises in products made from eco-friendly, naturally sourced fabrics. With cool, quirky and fashionable designs, the brand aims to provide everyday comfort in style through its own website as well as leading online marketplaces.
Kabra completed his graduation in BBA from Bangalore University and went to Hult International Business School for his MBA. Before founding his company XYXX Apparels, he was a faculty at PT education. He says that since they are at a high-growth stage journey as a brand, they aim to use resources to expand their product portfolio, strengthen their retail presence and build brand awareness.
The innerwear sector has huge potential. In 2014, this segment of the market in India was worth ₹19,950 crore and is estimated to grow at 13 per cent to reach ₹68,270 crore by 2024. Lifestyle aspirations, strong economic tailwinds and significant investments in category growth will propel the sector further. We saw a steady growth in innerwear sales on online portals and our website during the lockdown largely driven by marginal rise in demand and lack of availability in supply. Even post the markets opening up, demand has only marginally dropped but is much higher than pre lockdown levels. We expect innerwear to contribute 70% to revenue in FY22. Pre lockdown we had a 55-45 share of online v/s offline revenue which has changed to 70:30 split in recent months and we expect to close the year at around 65:35 online/offline split.
The modern man has a highly active lifestyle that requires him to be in a hustle mode always. Innovation for men’s underwear today also brings to light the need for elimination of shifting, adjusting, rubbing and chafing. This calls for underwear that keeps the man dry, cool, safe and in control. Performance underwear is going to pick up in a big way as fitness and health become macro-trends in the post-pandemic world. From innerwear for running or weight lifting to cycling and trekking, performance innerwear will be designed keeping specific and even niche consumer needs in mind.
While comfort is non-negotiable, the past few years have seen innerwear grow from bare essentials to being innovation-focused. Once a mere necessity, underwear is a crucial sartorial decision a man makes in a day and every dapper man out there is looking for innerwear that is both high quality and truly fashionable. Some of the trends we have observed in the market include:
- The innerwear industry has become adventurous and is now ahead of the curve. There are innerwear designers that are taking the experiential route to craft cutting-edge underwear, with new trends in patterns and silhouettes to create style statements in vibrant colours. The innerwear industry is updated on the global fashion calendar and in introducing trendsetting colours and patterns to the mix.
- Embedded in consumer insight, the need for underwear that adapts to changing outerwear styles is the need of the hour. Low rise jeans have gone even lower and the innerwear will brave that trend with broader, designer waistbands that offer coverage in style.
- The silhouettes of men’s garments have changed over the years and the past years witnessed them becoming slimmer and fitter. Thus ugly underwear lines and bunching have become a thing of the past. The rise of close-fitted pants are begging for no-show underwear that stays true to its second-skin claim. Bespoke and tailored fits have become a rage and an innerwear revolution is in the making to fit right into this trend. Personalised underwear fits are no longer unimaginable.
- Real men don’t sport six packs and innerwear for plus sizes even today is boring and unsightly. Underwear for extended sizes have undergone a drastic transformation. They are now available in flattering cuts, slimming styles as well as bold colours and designs. As men become more conscious about their appearance, they will fuel a growing demand for men’s shapewear.
- Pouch cuts have been traditionally rather flat and do not do justice to the contour of the male body; this is expected to change as brands go to great lengths to cater to different shapes and sizes, while addressing common concerns like chafing and rashes. Factors like superior softness, contoured support, durability of the elastic and well-tailored fit are still filtering its way into the underwear architecture.
Our approach to production has always been fabric-first. As a proudly homegrown brand, catering to the discerning Indian man, our driving thought is to create a product that is suitable to the local needs, be it functionality, climate, design etc. Some of the key problem areas we aimed at addressing were moisture control, chafing, elasticity, breathability as well as longevity in our innerwear.
We began by making innerwear with Tencel Modal fabric when it was unheard of in India. We understood through consumer studies for instance how cotton underwear can cause chafing and skin irritation since it lacks the required breathability and elasticity. It also loses shape and softness after a few washes. Each of our fabrics - modal, bamboo, supima - scores fantastically on a wide range of performance and comfort parameters. We also introduced innerwear crafted from Bamboo to India. Our products are designed to be gentle on the skin, eliminate all unwanted friction and stand the test of time.
Tencel modal and Bamboo are superior to cotton in every way. From better odour control to moisture absorbency they tick every box on the comfort chart. Supima cotton is another luxurious fabric that is great for innerwear.
Since day zero, XYXX has endeavoured to be an earth-friendly, conscious brand. Every fabric employed in crafting our innerwear and loungewear is plant based and naturally sourced.We take required steps to ensure even during production that every garment is engineered to provide superlative comfort with minimal environmental impact. What’s more, our packaging is eco-friendly and made from recycled paper and corn starch. Our products receive a lot of love from consumers because they are innovative and differentiated with minimal impact on the environment.
We introduced our entire range of innerwear made from plant-based and biodegradable Tencel Modal fabric with IntelliSoft technology back in 2017. These continue to be our marquee products. We launched our Apollo collection of bamboo-made innerwear with IntelliFresh technology in 2020 which sold out in no time and has seen excellent repeat purchases. Earlier this year, we launched our Earth 1.0 line, a line of elevated basics T-shirts crafted entirely from GOTS-certified Organic Cotton, which too was extremely well received. Our next step would be to explore low-impact dyes, lesser chemical treatments and fabrics made from recycled material.
Trunks as a category are fast-movers across collections for XYXX. Briefs as a category across all collections as well as vest are huge revenue drivers. Our Remix boxers in fun and quirky prints and a bright colour story are bestsellers online.
The waistband is an amazing canvas. We have experimented with the space dyeing technique for our Hues collection of underwear.
Consumer expenditure has been on an upward swing in spite of the pandemic and is set to double in the next couple of years. This is the result of the new middle class emerging not just in cities but also in small towns. There is pent up demand from the educated and aware consumer, given their exposure to the internet and trends at large, making them tough-to-please customers. Even in a price-sensitive country like India, while competitive pricing continues to govern all pricing strategy, there has been a marked transition from value retailing to lifestyle retailing. What has further added a new dimension to consumer behaviour as India inches towards becoming a truly digital economy is the highly tech-driven e-commerce and D2C model that offers everything from massive discounts and same-day delivery to try-before-you-buy options. Social media too is boosting online sales both for home-grown and established brands as well as retailers who are staking claim to their share of the consumer pie.
We consider ourselves to be a clothing-tech company and fabric as well as design innovation is at the core of everything we do. We were pioneers in India in introducing innerwear made in modal and bamboo at an affordable price point enhanced with antimicrobial finish and in truly stylish designs. All ranges in our innerwear have smooth seamless stitching, anti-marks, no-roll brushed back elastic, supportive contour pouch and an easy diagonal fly which are key to ensure a premium underwear experience.
Our studies in customer behaviour led us to understand that 80% consumers tend to research online even before buying from a brick and mortar store. As a result, for us it is imperative to give our customer everything he needs to make a buying decision no matter where he decides to shop. From consistency of information to messaging, we ensure he finds up-to-date and accurate details around the product as well as brand at every turn.
XYXX is a brand that caters to the young Indian man, who is fed up with the staid alternatives and lack of innovation in the market. We are actively breaking the stereotype and making men’s innerwear shopping a fun and exciting experience. Our communications tell it like it is, encourage honest and open communication with our customers as well as reflect the overall lifestyle ethos of XYXX. Our website is a lifestyle portal that not only highlights our unique offering but also features a blog that serves as inspiration as well as tells a larger story about XYXX. Further, XYXX also has a strong social media community that has been instrumental in our growth. Through content and intricate storytelling, strategic alliances and imagery to support the XYXX lifestyle, we have amassed a loyal following that shares our vision. Instagram today is leading the charge and enabling brands to directly converse with their audiences, tell their story through interesting formats as well as get real time feedback. For XYXX as well, Instagram is an important means of communication, allowing us to unveil our new collections, tell our story, share information, generate leads, and foster loyal relationships with our consumers.
New aspirations and lifestyle changes have made buyers more brand conscious. Our focus over the last couple of years has been the top 50 metros in India. While we continue to penetrate deeper on that front our renewed focus is on Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns where the new-age consumer is.
Every brand is clamouring for customer attention and retention making unique product and brand differentiators the need of the hour. Innovation, craftsmanship and design are the pillars of communication we are building brand on. We don’t believe in tall claims, exaggeration and believe that the contemporary Indian man is looking for a communication refresh. We are challenging conventions every step of the way. From showcasing innerwear as a fashion accessory rather than essential wear to building a size and personality inclusive narrative to taking on toxic masculinity and even taking the female point of view on men’s innerwear, we have constantly been ahead of the curve. Our customer delight and review strategy is the cornerstone of building a truly omni-channel brand.
We craft clothing that ticks all the boxes of functionality, comfort and performance and we want to continue to do it across categories. Since we are in a high growth stage in our journey, our immediate areas of focus include strengthening our comfort wear offering over the next couple of months. Further, currently we have established a presence in over 7,000 strategic offline MBO outlets across India. Over the next year, we also aim to scale our offline presence to 16,000 stores across the country.