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Production of Lingerie Items- Technical and Market Overview

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Israt Jahan Eusha

Introduction

Lingerie is all about embracing womanhood which are basically women’s underclothing and nightclothes. Lingerie is a complicated product that needs a sophisticated design which requires right fabric and tailoring to yield a good fit as well as highest level of satisfaction. Brassiere,  Briefs & panties, Slips & petticoats, Negligees, Bathrobes, Dressing gowns, Corsets, Braces, Suspenders, Garters, Knickers, Shape Wear, Lounge Wear, Swimwear etc. are different sort of lingerie items. Knickers can be designed with various styles such as hipster, shorts, and full briefs. Since the next generation of textile-apparel products will be mostly synthetic because of the limitations of natural resources and ever-changing demands of the customers, this article will lean towards the application of synthetic raw materials in the production of lingerie. This article also represents a basic overview of the market status, competitor segment with a basic introduction of key vendors, top regions, product types, and end industries.

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Raw Materials

Raw materials in undergarments are particularly scrutinized because of their proximity to the skin. The synthetic raw material to look for underclothing are explained here and we are beginning with Spandex- Lycra.  Spandex is a high elastic synthetic fiber, it has many varieties. The most popular variety of spandex is-Lycra. For the super elasticity of Lycra, it cannot be woven into fabrics alone. 5%-10% Lycra is usually blended in other synthetic or natural fibers (such as silk, cotton, nylon, etc.) to increase the elasticity of the fabric. Then comes Nylon, the earliest synthetic fiber in the world, is also named Polyamind. The elasticity and intensity of nylon make it a good fabric for sports bras, the nylon fabric can hold the chest firmly while exercising.  You will notice there are quite an amount of sports bras in the market that are made from nylon fabric. The chemical name of Terylene is Polyester, the simplest crafts of Terylene among the three synthetic fibers make its price cheaper. The intensity of nylon and terylene make them the first choice for a bra to achieve the effect of gathering and shaping. Most sports bras are made of 90% nylon + 10% lycra, or 90% terylene + 10% lycra fabrics.

Increasing concerns over flexible fabric used in lingerie is another factor driving the market. Demand for the product is increasing due to usage of fabrics such as nylon, polyester, satin, lace, sheer and lycra. Companies use fabrics with elastic laces, pleated polyester, tulle, and micro fibre for the creative design of lingerie. For instance, Ritratti, an Italian brand, designs brassiere with liquid silicon embedded in it. Whereas, Mesh Intimate provides brassiere with a little ruffle trims. Manufacturers are focusing on offering knickers made of comfortable fabric such nylon. Charmeuse is a fabric. Fiber creates fabric. All Charmeuse will not drape the same way. Polyester Charmeuse is denser and drapes differently than that of natural fibers.

The brassiere are made of many different synthetic materials including rayon (manmade fiber), spandex, polyester, and lace. Some are all cotton, some are all polyester, and some are combinations of natural and synthetics, and so forth. Most brassieres include an elastic material of some sort on the back panel that allows some expansion and movement of back muscles. Spandex, a modern synthetic fiber extensively processed from Malaysian tree sap, must be processed prior to the assembling of the brassiere because it is, in some products, the most important material in the brassiere. A closure of some sort i.e. metal hooks and eyes, must be included on the brassiere unless it is an elastic sports brassiere which can be put on over the head.

While synthetic fabrics like Elastane and Polyester are easy to criticize, they also help give bras their shape and support. These undergarments need to be flexible enough to move with the rib cage, while strong enough to support the bust. Mark Sumner, a former fabric development technologist at Marks & Spencer who now lectures at the University of Leeds, describes them as one of the most highly engineered pieces of clothing.

Technology

The marketing and sales departments review data from female consumer attitudes in general and trends in women’s purchasing habits. Decisions are based on how the new styles will be positioned within the collection, special features, cut, sizing, production costs, market pricing, quality specifications, and when the new product will be launched publicly. Prototype drawings are made, pattern pieces are designed, and often the pattern pieces are devised using computerized programs.

A bandsaw-like shearing device or a more contemporary computer-controlled laser for cutting out the components. Industrial grade sewing machines are used for the sewing process of lingerie. Coated metal hooks and eyes are both sewn in by machine and heat processed or ironed. The label is usually machine-stitched into the back or side panel as well at this time.

Companies are coming up with special kinds of knickers such as jacquard and lace designs, no VPL lace trim, and high waisted control to provide comfort and other benefits.

02

Production Process

Overly complicated designs can create product aversion, especially in the intimate apparel world. Hence producing lingerie line takes time, testing and several rounds of fit samples.

At first, experienced designers and design engineers understand the requirements of the wearer as well as the marketers and design with activities and cleaning requirements in mind. Secondly, a very important part is procuring fabrics and components (underwire, hooks and eyes, or buckles) that are durable. Testing of materials include assessing shrink-resistance, color-fastness and durability, shape-retention, stretch, manufacturing stability, and comfort.

Lingerie is a garment that needs to stretch. The best way to check the stretch ratio is to cut a one-inch piece of the fabric and pull it on a ruler. If it only hits the two-inch mark, the stretch ratio indicates that one inch of fabric will stretch another one-inch. If a heavy stretch fabric is used in lingerie production, size medium could accommodate a wider range than that of a lighter stretch.

Two measurements are crucial to determining bra size which are the chest circumference below the underarm and the fullest part of the breast. Cup size is calculated from the difference between the two measurements. They are sized according to a universal grading system. It is a product that is still pieced out in some plants, meaning that the sewing that connects all the components may be contracted out of the plant to smaller sewing operations. If an undergarment company utilizes spandex within the product, they may manufacture the material on premises. If a company uses cotton, it may be supplied from a manufacturer who makes the material based on their specifications.

To avoid costly mistakes, sample yardage needs to be tested. If the lingerie line is going to be washable, it needs to be checked that the integrity of the fabric holds up through washes. If the line is going to be dry cleaned only, it is to be made sure that the material could withstand the process of dry cleaning.

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Global Market of Lingerie Items

According to industry insiders, lingerie currently rakes in well over US $700 million annually as against what was well below US $100 million five years ago. According to latest data from the Export Promotion Bureau, women’s or girls’ panties and similar articles, knitted or crocheted, fetched over US $676 million from July-May 2018. In 2018, brassiere held the largest market share of more than 50.0%.

In fiscal year of 2017-18, the export earnings of Bangladesh from lingerie was 659.84 Million USD which was increased to 792.05 Million USD in fiscal year of 2018-19. Ananta Group, the 28-year-old company invested USD 20 Million into lingerie production facility in the year 2018. Ananta Group has leveraged its buyer base through lingerie sales. Z&Z is now selling intimate apparel to European and American retailers including Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Marks & Spencer (M&S). Knit Concern has thrived to double its lingerie manufacturing capacity by 2020, targeting an annual exports increase from USD 24 Million to USD 50 Million.

The global lingerie market size was valued at USD 29.9 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a CAGR of 7.5% from 2019 to 2025. Increasing awareness about the best fit, growing millennial population, and rise in spending power among women are expected to drive the market over the forecast period. Increasing availability of a broad range of products in multiple designs for various purposes such sports, bridal wear, and regular wear has also been driving the global market. The knickers segment is expected to expand at the fastest CAGR of 8.1% by 2025.

In the North American market, there are some intimate apparel trends relevant in the past years that are unwavering. Underwired unlined bras often are designed in beautiful lace or mesh fabrics. The best part about the underwired unlined trend is that it is extremely wide spread throughout the market and suits a large audience of woman. The present trends has led to the increased production of intimate apparel containing details that compliment an outfit, whether it be a lace-edged bodysuit, seamless crop top bra or bralette with harness straps.

Consumers are more inclined towards color, fabric, and style, which is encouraging the manufacturers to introduce trendy lingerie suitable for various activities. For instance, Jockey offers a wide range of nursing and sports brassieres.

04

Mentionable tycoons in the market include Jockey International Inc.; Victoria’s Secret; Zivame; Gap, Inc.; Hanesbrands Inc.; Triumph International Ltd.; Hunkemoller; Bare necessities; Calvin Klein; and MAS Holdings. Companies such as Jockey, Enamor, Amante, and Hunkemoller are spending on research and development to make it feasible for all shapes and sizes. Outerwear of women and focus on style quotient and comfort are other factors driving the demand for lingerie. In 2019, Parfait, a U.S. based company, launched plus sized intimate apparel with good quality, fit, and comfort in India. Whereas, in 2018, a Spanish company namely Women’s Secret entered in India and set up its stores in Bengaluru and Mumbai with Tablez Group. It is further planning to strengthen its reach to Delhi as well as East and South India. Multi brands stores such as Shoppers Stop, H&M, Marks and Spencer, Carefour, Reliance Trends, MAX, and FBB, Clovia, Zivameis held the leading share of 45.5% in the market. Online retailers such as Myntra, Jabong, Amazon, Nykaa, Shyaway, Elitify, Ajio, Journelle, Cosabella, Aerie, Adore Me, and Thirdlove are reaching out to the vast consumer base. Online portals such as Zivame.com, Clovia.com, Jockeyinternational.com, Victoriasecret.com, and hunkemoller.com owned by famous companies are ready to response to the customers. Italian luxury lingerie brand, La Perla and French lingerie, Etam have opened their retail shops in sub-continent to capture the wider customer base.

 

Conclusion

Global lingerie market is in a period of rapid development, the market capacity continues to increase, but at the same time also began intense competition. China, Turkey, Italy, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are the know-how of lingerie production but the cost of manufacture has been on an upward curve in China and the other countries ruling the intimate apparel exporting. Consequently, Bangladesh holds enormous market potential in traversing the world of lingerie items which has high export value because of the cheap products, accommodated with excellence and trustworthiness among the buyers.

05

Hence plentiful garment factories have started manufacturing lingerie in the former years for funding the rise in export capacity thus accumulating more value added products to the export list. Local manufacturers are now making fresh investments in this segment as they try to seize a greater stake of the global market. However, diversification and advancement are in order for Bangladesh to gain the remarkable growth that our country aspires to get in the global market of lingerie. After completing a preliminary accumulation, many manufacturers are in a critical period of industrial upgrading and brand upgrades. Therefore the enticed manufacturers hastening into the underclothing production should avoid fortuitous attempts and take strategic actions.

References

  1. Global Lingerie Market 2019: Industry Size & Share, Business Strategies, Growth Analysis, Regional Demand, Revenue, Key Manufacturers and 2024 Forecast Research Report
  2. https://eurovet.com/en/news/revealed-5-favorite-intimate-apparel-trends/
  3. com/industry-analysis/lingerie-market
  4. https://makersrow.com/the-foundations-of-lingerie-design-and-manufacturing/
  5. com/Volume-5/Brassiere
  6. https://bd.apparelresources.com/business-news/sourcing/bangladesh-big-potential-lingerie-items-manufacturer/
  7. just-style.com/analysis/bangladesh-manufacturers-making-inroads-into-lingerie
  8. https://jingsourcing.com/p/b02-underwear-lingerie-material/
  9. com/sustainability/biodegradable-lingerie-hosiery-lyocell-wolford

Image Courtesy

  1. makersrow.com
  2. jingsourcing.com
  3. just-style.com