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Undressing Lingerie Market Opportunities in 2021

Where there is change, there is also opportunity. This statement is true for the lingerie industry, which, like almost every other industry, has been impacted by the global pandemic. Even during pre-pandemic times, however, intimate apparel trends and areas for growth were emerging, as women in every shape, size and color have been demanding greater selections. Messages of empowerment and body acceptance have been coming to the forefront of the lingerie marketplace for the past several years.

So has the need to be more sustainable, both as a company and the ability to offer earth-friendly solutions to clients. Working from home further fueled the need for comfort, and the nearing end of the pandemic is driving greater interest in refreshed bra styles for when we leave our homes. As we begin the new normal, we believe that the following areas are key for lingerie market opportunities.

Diversity & Acceptance

In the current age of diversity, the lingerie industry has seen a significant shift over the past few years. What we once considered the color “nude” has gone from one color to many shades, acknowledging and accepting women from around the world. Nude does not cover one skin tone; it needs to cover many. As more brands focus on inclusivity, a new precedent is being set that is likely to see continued growth — particularly when celebrities and influencers, from Rihanna to Kim Kardashian West, are promoting awareness and products to consumers. 

More Inclusive Sizing

As a global sourcing company from concept to completion, it has always been our main goal to focus on bras for every woman. According to the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average American woman wears a size 16-18. Retailers have been investing in sizes small and medium, which makes up only part of the total sales. Those not focused on an extended size range are missing an opportunity. Market data reveals that plus-sizes attributed for only 25% of products available, and we see potential for growth.

Brands wishing to focus on this area for growth need to find a design and manufacturing partner that truly understands how to engineer a plus-size bra that is sized properly and offers benefits such as shape, comfort and sophistication. It is these areas that provide women with the confidence they crave.

Comfort Is Queen

It is not surprising that during a time when women are working from home or going out less than they used to that bralettes have seen a 117% increase in sales. That doesn’t mean that women have to give up comfort and support with a wire-free bra. The right design, fabric and construction can give women everything that they want and need to feel confident.

Until recently, no-wire or wire-free bras were very comfortable but did not give a nice shape or much support. Today, we create wireless bras that offer many of the same great features as underwire bras — but without a wire in the band. These new styles offer both great styling and support with maximum comfort. The design and technology that goes into a bra is constantly evolving and changing. Many of the fabric technologies that are found in sports fabrics are making their way into wire-free lingerie design, as are the features needed to provide both support and comfort.

A focus on comfort does not mean the end of beautiful bras and seductive silhouettes. Experienced partners are able to create seamless and wireless bras that provide comfort with stunning laces and vibrant colors. We are in an era of feminine details that offer fashion and function.

Sustainability: The New Normal

Over the past few years, the wellness, ethical and sustainable fashion scene has been one of the fastest-growing categories touching diverse industries from apparel to home. The lingerie industry is looking at its environmental impact as it relates to the disposable nature of fast fashion, excessive dyes and the use of petroleum-based fabrics. The next generation of shoppers is paying attention, and they are vocal about sustainability issues.

The industry needs to pay attention in two key ways. As companies, we need to review our practices and make greater efforts to be more sustainable. We also need to research and develop solutions that are cost-effective and exciting for our customers. The opportunities exist where we can bring awareness to customers about Earth-friendly fabrics, manufacturing and programs that check off all the boxes, including price, service, quality and aesthetics. It is our responsibility to translate trends and create exciting intimate apparel so that we can be a part of a long-term movement.

Bra Wardrobe Essentials

While push-up bras will always be a wardrobe staple, sports bras and T-shirt bras are adding to the already popular bralette and wireless craze. According to market analysts at Edited, “Sports bras stocked in the U.K. market alone have increased by 42%, with prices rising as retailers capitalize on the COVID-19 activewear boom. T-shirt bras also saw a 17% lift, echoing the importance of comfort.” These are the types of trends that help to fuel innovation. Much-loved moisture-wicking properties go from sports bras to bralettes as the warmer weather approaches. As women seek to be more active, focus on self-care and comfort, their bra wardrobes will be adjusted, and essentials will include a new range of styles.

While there have been great challenges and stresses in the past year, there are several areas that women have come to appreciate. Greater awareness for inclusivity, having more time for exercise, a greater focus on self-care and a desire to find products that meet a strong desire sustainability are just a few examples. These are the opportunities for growth with today’s consumers, whose lives has seen work and home activities blur together.

DLI is a full-service intimate apparel company known for solution-driven innovation and successfully shipping millions of bras each quarter. For more than 28 years, DLI has developed private label merchandise for leading intimate apparel brands in band sizes from 32-54 and cup sizes A-K.

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