There is no doubt that despite the global lingerie industry struggling hard to clock in positive growth figures, recession has not allowed it to improve its standing much. And this has been confirmed by a recent study, which indicates that the lingerie market recorded a meager 0.4per cent growth in the previous year and 0.7 per cent in the last seven years.Hence, calling for an urgent need to the industry to have strong foothold in the emerging markets to stay floating.

The report said that the worldwide lingerie retail market grew to $29.92bn (` 1,66,157.61 crore) from $29.17 bn (`1,61,526.11 crore) between 2004 and 2007. In 2008-2009, the figures went down to $28.91 bn (` 1,60,086.38 crore). However, in 2010-2011, the market recovered slightly to notch up $29.37bn (` 1,62,633.59crore). Subsequently, in 2012, the lingerie market at retail prices is projected to be worth $29.23 bn (` 1,61,858.35 crore), down by approximately 0.5 percent as compared to the 2011 figures. The report also predicts 2013 will witness a modest growth at 2017 and it is expected to be worth $30.55 bn (`1,69,167.73 crore). As per statistics, this growth will be just 4 per cent in the six years from 2011 and less than 5 per cent since 2004. Of this, North America will see a growth of 4.2 per cent, Japan/South Korea 1.9 per cent, whilst the rest of the world will grow by 14.8 per cent. Europe and Turkey lingerie markets are projected to remain flat.

The economic health of the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) looks more and more disastrous. It is also projected that the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) which account 40 per cent of the total population will continue to flourish, but due to poor demand from western countries, the textile exporting industry of Brazil, India and China will all be affected. India is among few of the countries where premium inner wear market is witnessing growth.Therefore, players are making the most of this opportunity by setting up standalone stores, introducing new brands and scaling up production eyeing a pie of the ` 14,000 crore market. The premium inner wear segment(for both men and women), is pegged at nearly ` 4,000 crore at present. Of this, the men's market share is at 63 per cent (`2,500 crore). As Debashis Chatterjee, CEO of Enamor explains, "Yes, the global lingerie industry will be ruled by the BRIC nations. India is one of the fastest growing markets for lingerie. Enamor contributes 30 per cent of the share in the inner wear market across India."

Nischal Puri, CEO of Brandis India, says the premium innerwear market is growing at about 25 per cent on a year-on-year basis. He believes that brands that will dominate the market in the future in India are yet to emerge. Brandis India is currently focusing on the womens innerwear brand 'Beyouty' and mens sportswear '2GO' brand.

Brand Lovable has entered into a joint venture with the London-based Lifestyle Galleries to manufacture and market super-premium products. This apart, Lovable has also started widening its product portfolio by extending the Lovable brand into segments like sleepwear and home-wear under the Leisure sub-brand and has launched cotton lingerie under the brand 'Cotton Essensuals'.

According to a report by CARE, in volume terms the women lingerie segment holds 52 per cent share of the total innerwear market in India. In value terms, it enjoys 66 per cent share of the total lingerie market, with a higher average selling price (ASP) compared to the men's innerwear market. Overall the lingerie industry in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.3 per cent over the period 2009-2014.

This article was originally published in the Stitch Times, July, 2012.