Hush Hush, No More!

VMRD - - Contents - Satarupa Chakraborty Images Courtesy : Re­spec­tive Brands

Democra­tised as a cat­e­gory in main­line re­tail, Lin­gerie is a cat­e­gory which has fi­nally ar­rived with a bang. The pro­jected growth of $9 bil­lion in next 4 years also an­nounces a rise in num­ber of stores, suave re­tail de­sign and more brands join­ing the band­wagon. VM&RD brings the cat­e­gory out of closet.

While the over­all ap­parel mar­ket is grow­ing at 8%, the lin­gerie mar­ket is grow­ing at a stag­ger­ing 22% (Source Technopak re­ports), al­most 2.5 times faster. Clearly, in­ti­mate wear is evolved, ma­ture and democra­tised. Last few years, In­dia’s re­tail mar­ket has wel­comed a league of glob­ally-cel­e­brated lin­gerie brands like Hunke­moller, Women’Se­cret and more while the sen­sa­tional names like Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret and Pink will soon be strength­en­ing the in­ter­na­tional reper­toire. In the same time pe­riod, there has been a steady in­flux of do­mes­tic brands sur­fac­ing in this cat­e­gory, most of which started as on­line play­ers and came to off­line ex­pan­sion within a few years of in­cep­tion. In fact, omni-chan­nel looks like a clear roadmap of suc­cess for most of the home­grown lin­gerie brands who made it big.

Democrati­sa­tion Of Lin­gerie Re­tail

When lead­ing Bri­tish re­tailer Marks & Spencer opened their 15000 sq ft flag­ship at Phoneix Mar­ketc­ity Mall, Ban­ga­lore, the store was ex­pected to have a lin­gerie sec­tion. The re­tailer still de­cided to add a stand­alone lin­gerie store just next door. Back in their coun­try of ori­gin, the UK, one out of three women use M&S lin­gerie, how­ever, the Bri­tish re­tailer came up with this spe­cial store for­mat only in In­dia. To­day, M&S has 6 lin­gerie stand­alone stores and they plan to add 100 such for­mats in next 3-4 years.

Does that mean, In­dian mall spa­ces are ded­i­cated well to­wards lin­gerie re­tail? Karan Bahl, Founder & CEO, Pret­ty­Se­crets, an om­nichan­nel lin­gerie brand, which is grow­ing at 150%, throws a sur­prise, “Glob­ally, 4-8% sales of any mall is com­ing from lin­gerie cat­e­gory, whereas in In­dia, it’s still stuck at about 1%. Within the cat­e­gory, In­dia still has a band­width of ei­ther util­i­tar­ian or fancy mer­chan­dises. It was our con­scious de­ci­sion to come some­where in be­tween.” Start­ing their off­line ex­pan­sion only a year back, Pret­ty­Se­crets has 25 stores in their net­work and plans to be present through 300 ex­clu­sive out­lets within next 3 years.

Dom­i­nance Of Do­mes­tic Brands

Just as other cat­e­gories, In­dian re­tail is at­tract­ing foreign brands even in lin­gerie cat­e­gory. How­ever, home­grown brands are still lead­ing in terms of store net­work and busi­ness.

Span­ish Brand Women’Se­cret en­tered In­dia last year with south In­dia’s lead­ing re­tail com­pany Tablez Group and has 3 stores so far in Ban­ga­lore and Mumbai. Slated to close 2019 with a to­tal num­ber of 12 re­tail doors, Adeeb Ahamed, MD, Tablez Group, shares their lo­ca­tion strat­egy for ex­pand­ing store net­work, “For 2019, we would be pre­dom­i­nantly present in metro cities Delhi and Mumbai. We are also look­ing at the east for ex­pan­sion along with strength­en­ing our base in the south of In­dia through Met­ros.” Sim­i­larly, brands like Hunke­moller (brought to In­dia by Re­liance Brand Lim­ited) and La Senza (brought to In­dia by Ma­jor Brands), oper­at­ing in In­dia for quite a few years, have only con­sol­i­dated their store pres­ence max­i­mum at all met­ros.

Sur­pris­ingly, though sin­gle brand in­ter­na­tional ti­tles are avail­able in In­dia, multi brands are not. Hash­tag Plus, an NCRbased start-up by D’Art Re­tail Pvt Ltd, is work­ing on an even ad­vanced con­cept of plus size lin­gerie. The com­pany is bring­ing some of the lead­ing in­ter­na­tional brands from the US, Canada and South­east Asia and will soon start rolling out stores across In­dia, Mid­dle East and Africa through fran­chisee roll­out.

Back home, on­line brands like Zi­vame, Clovia and Pret­ty­Se­crets are fast tak­ing the om­nichan­nel route, clock­ing sev­eral funds and build­ing a ro­bust brick-and-mor­tar net­work. The trio re­ported a com­bined rev­enue of INR 100 crore two fis­cals back. To­day, they have more than dou­bled the num­ber. In­ter­est­ingly, many of these brands are young (not more than 5 years old) and have an on­line ori­gin. Ship­ping a mer­chan­dise ev­ery 6 se­conds,

Clovia is now fo­cus­ing on build­ing a strate­gic brick-and-mor­tar net­work. Pankaj Ver­mani, Founder & CEO, Clovia, shares a trivia, “Do you know that top 10 In­dian lin­gerie brands, which in­cludes us as well, con­trib­ute less than 7% in over­all busi­ness? The truth is that the big­ger busi­ness still lies with the un­or­gan­ised, semi-or­gan­ised and re­gion­ally-pop­u­lar brands. How­ever, the good news is that many of these cus­tomers are turn­ing to or­gan­ised brands like us, given our com­pet­i­tive price points, el­e­vated styles and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.” This in­fers that when it comes to dom­i­nance of do­mes­tic brands in lin­gerie re­tail, or­gan­ised brands, which are show­ing very promis­ing rev­enue growth, are just tip of this grand suc­cess story.

Small Towns, Big Won­ders

Hav­ing pre­dicted the un­prece­dented growth of that huge of brands which are lead­ing re­gion-wise, does this mean that these small towns do not make big mar­kets for or­gan­ised re­tail brands? Lead­ing om­nichan­nel brand, Pret­ty­Se­crets, who has con­sol­i­dated its pres­ence well in na­tion­wide mom-and-pops lin­gerie stores, opened their first EBO about a year back at Ma­nipur’s Itana­gar, a town not even known to many. To­day, Itana­gar, with a pop­u­la­tion of only 1 lakh peo­ple, has two Pret­ty­Se­crets stores and the first store still re­mains one of the most suc­cess­ful one for the brand.

Sim­i­larly, for Clovia, a brand which claims to con­vert its on­line learn­ing to off­line roll­out, en­joys 55% busi­ness from on­line chan­nel, within which non-metro con­tri­bu­tion is enor­mous. The brand, as part of its plan to open 20-25 EBOs in next 12 months, is an­chor­ing on small towns like Pu­ru­lia and non-metro lo­ca­tions in Gu­jarat, North and South In­dia. In­ter­est­ingly, Clovia’s re­tail roll­out only chooses high foot­fall non-mall lo­ca­tions.

For a vet­eran and much larger brand Jockey, the man­date seems to have worked for many years now and the brand has suc­cess­ful mul­ti­ple stores in same vicini­ties. Re­cently cross­ing a num­ber of 500 EBOs across na­tion, Jockey plans to open 1000 more in next 3 years. MC Cari­appa, Pres­i­dent – Sales & Mar­ket­ing, Jockey In­dia, shares, “We have in­no­vated in our store for­mats to en­sure that we reach tier-II, III and even ru­ral mar­kets. Since we op­er­ate through a

large fran­chisee net­work, we are ex­tremely vig­i­lant to­wards bring­ing fru­gal ben­e­fits to our part­ners and re­duc­ing turn­around time.”

What Shows, Sells

Once a dis­creet af­fair and now a part of en­joy­able shopping haul – how are the brands en­sur­ing a good in-store ex­pe­ri­ence? Fit­ting ex­pe­ri­ence, com­fort and ed­u­ca­tion – the lead­ing lin­gerie brands echoed in uni­son. Take the ex­am­ple of Enamor’s Fab­u­lous Flag­ship for­mat at Phoenix Mar­ketc­ity Ban­ga­lore, de­signed by Delhi-based agency Stu­dio Lo­tus. The store, spread across 800 sq ft, brings dif­fer­ent size of man­nequins, ed­u­ca­tional videos for trial rooms and in­di­vid­ual VM sto­ries for mer­chan­dises. Enamor will soon take the con­cept to other lo­ca­tions as well.

Zi­vame, one of the top-line brands, which ac­tu­ally em­pow­ered con­fi­dent lin­gerie shopping, em­barked on their off­line jour­ney with the most com­pre­hen­sive store de­sign. Swad­hin Mishra, Head – Off­line, Zi­vame, shared, “The stores have been de­signed around the core phi­los­o­phy of pro­vid­ing con­sumers with the per­fect fit. We ini­ti­ated the fit­ting process in 2011 and cre­ated an un­in­hib­ited en­vi­ron­ment for women to shop for lin­gerie. We con­tinue to fit our con­sumers in or­der to provide them with the per­fect lin­gerie. We are con­stantly up­grad­ing our stores to re­flect all the lat­est cat­e­gories and col­lec­tions.” The lin­gerie stores, by the virtue of smaller sizes of mer­chan­dises, are gen­er­ally kept within 500 sq ft. Clovia’s phase-III plan­ning, which is planned to be ex­e­cuted by next quar­ter, has se­ri­ous plans to bring omni-chan­nel el­e­ments to its stores. “Pure play tab en­vi­ron­ment can’t cut the chase of omni-chan­nel. Also, lin­gerie is a sen­si­tive zone. There­fore, our omni-chan­nel in-store el­e­ments will ad­dress lot of so­cio-techno is­sues,” Ver­mani added.

Lov­able, present in ap­prox­i­mately 3000 re­tail touch­points in­clud­ing some of the ma­jor LFS for­mats, has re­cently re­vamped their whole brand­ing and re­tail de­sign iden­tity and is poised to start their EBO roll­out soon with one store each in Mumbai and Ban­ga­lore.

The “In­ti­mate” In­un­da­tion

In­ter­est­ingly, the boom­ing brick-and­mor­tar ex­pres­sion of lin­gerie re­tail came much later than the ap­parel boom and to­day, it’s grow­ing 2.5 times higher than the reg­u­lar ap­parel mar­ket. As much as mall shop win­dows no longer shy away from bra-clad man­nequins, high street and small town lo­ca­tions are em­brac­ing the change. The road be­tween dis­creet per­func­tory shopping and leisure re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence was rather cut short by ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing cam­paigns and wide choices of­fered by some of the smart lin­gerie brands. Yet or­gan­ised lin­gerie brands ac­count for only a mar­ginal per­cent­age of the ex­po­nen­tial op­por­tu­nity that this cat­e­gory of­fers. As Les Wexner, CEO, L Brands and the bil­lion­aire man be­hind Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret, said, “There is al­ways hope­fully a next”, we be­lieve there will be more and more brands in fu­ture to cat­a­pult the pro­jected growth.

Enamor Flag­ship

Amante store VM

Zi­vame Flag­ship Store

Women’Se­cret Store

Pretty Se­crets Store

Karan Bahl, Founder & CEO, Pret­ty­Se­crets

Clovia Store

Pankaj Ver­mani, Founder & CEO, Clovia

Adeeb Ahamed, MD, Tablez Group

Jockey Flag­ship Store

M&S Lin­gerie Sec­tion

MC Cari­appa, Pres­i­dent – Sales & Mar­ket­ing, Jockey In­dia

Swad­hin Mishra, Head – Off­line, Zi­vame

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