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May, 01 2008

Foreign lingerie brands in India

The underwear mania is driving the market and a number of big brands are entering this segment. It may not be an exaggeration to say that lingerie might become the next fashion fad in India. With the increasing number of Indians and expatriates returning

In the present retail scenario, India stands as a promising land for many international brands to start their venture. In this respect, the growing urban population with high disposable income becomes the bait for the multi-national brands. India`s apparel market size is about Rs 90,000 crore. Out of this, Rs 3800 crore accounts for lingerie market, which is, currently growing at 12 per cent and, according to Technopak, is expected to be Rs 6700 crore by 2010. It is also interesting to know that women lingerie is the highest growing apparel item in India.

So far the entry of these foreign brands was limited to grey markets sold under the counter or else, for those who were more fortunate, trips to foreign countries used to satisfy such luxury. But now it is a different ball game altogether. The large format stores, exclusive outlets as well as small stores are hoarding these items offering the right ambience where the customer enjoys full satisfaction browsing a wide variety, devoting quality time to pick up the right product. Venkatesh Rajamani, CEO of Amanté, a lingerie brand from Sri Lanka, says, “Today, innerwear has become a matter of luxury, style, sex appeal and gorgeousness. This underwear mania is driving the market and a number of big brands are entering this segment. It may not be an exaggeration to say that lingerie might become the next fashion fad in India.”

The passion for the trendy intimate wear can be traced back as early as 1962 when Associated Apparel Pvt. Ltd. introduced the brands like Maidenform, Jockey and Jantzen. However, the stint was too short and the brands vanished from the market gradually. In 1995 Page Industries Ltd., as the licensee, once again introduced the brand Jockey in India.

In 1996, the launch of Lovable brand in India marked the new era in India`s lingerie landscape. From then onwards, a stream of international brands have been entering the Indian market offering the feelings of luxury that the Indian consumers so eagerly craved for.

Entry routes

In 2002 the German company, Triumph International, started selling their line of lingerie in India by setting up their office in the country. Triumph International runs its exclusive outlets through franchise business model. A joint venture between Gokaldas Image and French lingerie company, Barbara, facilitated the entry of the brand Enamor in 2003.

In 2006 the Canadian brand La Senza made an entry through franchise route with Fashion Brands India Pvt. Ltd. Presently the company has four exclusive outlets, two each in Mumbai and Delhi.

The year 2007 saw a series of activities at this front. It was the year Indian women got the opportunity of possessing the comfort and luxury of another French innerwear brand with the launching of Etam through 50:50 joint venture with Pantaloon Retail. In the same year, Amanté, a Sri Lankan brand, made the foray with setting up its office MAS Holdings in India. This brand is presently retailing through wholesale route of shop-in-shop. For them, franchising is another option in the near future.

United Colors of Benetton launched its lingerie line Undercolors in the same year. The brand is retailed through its exclusive outlets, which are all franchised, as well as shop-in-shop format in MBOs. Also, Esprit, a $5 billion European brand, introduced its lingerie line in its large format retail store in New Delhi last year. Esprit made the entry in India in 2005 through license agreement with Madura Garments.

Foreign brands` India entry

`Change` a European lingerie brand is going to enter Indian market quite aggressively through licence agreement. Talking about their roll-out plan, Roger Small, Managing Partner, International Concepts – Middle East, the company instrumental for bringing the brand in India, informs that by the end of 2008 they are going to launch the brand in India and hope to consolidate their national footprints by opening 150 exclusive outlets of Change within next 3-5 years. Small perceives Indian market as the potential ground for any brand development. “Rise in consumer awareness and the desire to buy quality products and services by consumers make India an obvious destination for our brand. With the increasing number of Indians and expatriates returning to the country every day, the Indian retail market has great potential to be among the top retail destinations of the world in the very near future”, he states on a positive note.

Soon India is going to have the famous Indian lingerie brand La Perla by the end of May with the opening of its first store in DLF Emporio Mall at Vasnt Kunj, Delhi. La Perla had entered into partnership with the Murjani Group in 2006.

From a reliable source it is revealed that the famous French brand Soleil Sucré will be launched in India shortly. The company may opt for franchise route.

Jockey International is also mulling to set up exclusive outlets for lifestyle lingerie line totally dedicated for women in India. Presently, the company has near about 30 exclusive outlets across India which run on franchise mode.

Target customers

Most of these foreign brands planning to venture the Indian market target the customers in the age group of 25-45. These products mainly cater to high-end customers. Price range can be anything between Rs.250- 1000, even more than that. Amanté is ranged between Rs.295-995. Roger Small of Change assures it will be reasonable.

Shopping experience offered

For shopping experience the stress is mainly on the comfort and personalized yet professional sales service. Speaking on this issue, Jaydeep Shetty, CEO of Etam Future Fashion, informs, “A good private space, serviced by women only, and an ambience that does not rush you into buying is the USP of our customer service. Store designs are an exact replication of France to give an international feel.” Change`s USP is ensuring comfortable fitting for every women and the guidance of trained sales advisors to pick up the right product.

These foreign brands offer a large collection of bodywear with innovative designs. Like La Senza offers basic lingerie, bras & panties, lounge wear, beach wear, night wear as well as gym wear. Technology plays an important role with La Senza products. “We have technologically advanced bras like the ITEC – a one-piece bra without seams and stitches”, informs Sylvie Gulbenkian, Vice President, La Senza International.

Style norm

Most of these foreign brands make frequent change of collection and boast of a large volume of SKUs. Change has range of 3000 plus items which is ever expanding. Roger Small explains, “Like the fashion industry, we have two main collections every year, i.e., summer and winter collections; each individual range is delivered into the store every 14 days. In addition to this, there would be smaller capsules for different occasions/seasons like Christmas, New Year, and Valentines, etc. Etam offers 500 styles in a season and about 200 styles at any given point in time and generally changes collection once in every 45 days. La Senza changes collections four times a year, Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter. Like La Senza, Undercolors too displays Spring-Summer, Autumn-Winter collections.

Continue of flow

With the entry of foreign lingerie brands, Indian lingerie industry has come of age. The concept of innerwear has got redefined and upgraded itself to fashion accessories. Indian women now know the feel of comfort and look forward for more. For the present market situation and consumer trend, foreign brands too finding India as the perfect launching pad. This is good news for Indian retailers. The ingress of foreign brands will open business opportunity through franchise, license, distributorship and joint ventures. So, in the coming days we can expect the sector abuzz with activities.

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