4 June 2022
The global lingerie market size is estimated to cross approximately US $ 84 billion by the end of 2028 from around US $ 43 billion in 2020, according to various reports. Around 40 per cent market in lingerie segment is captured by entire Europe, while 30 per cent is shared by North America. USA still holds its position as the single largest lingerie market with import of brassieres reaching US $ 2.82 billion in 2021 and crossing pre-pandemic figures of US $ 2.26 billion in 2019. Of total imports to USA, the contributions of countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been significantly good and growing.
Lingerie and intimatewear export to the USA has emerged as a new strength for Bangladesh’s robust apparel manufacturing industry even as latest available reports underline Bangladesh has shipped US $ 167.86 million worth of brassieres, including categories such as shapewear and foundation garments in 2021, making the country the fifth top lingerie exporter in the USA even if according to the latest official US customs data, Bangladesh brassieres’ export to the USA gained an impressive 43 per cent growth in January to November period of 2021.
The country’s share in the global lingerie market has already surpassed US $ 500 million mark even as industry insiders put Bangladesh’s annual lingerie export at US $ 700 million, thanks to the established names actively looking at increasing their footprints and market penetration.
“...if we can get hold of a portion of the global lingerie market, our exports will go up by at least several billion US dollars,” claims BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim while Managing Director of DBL Group Mohammed Abdul Jabbar also maintains there is huge potential for Bangladesh in lingerie.
It is not only the established names but also the new players, contributing their bit as they fight it out for fair share of the pie, which has added a new dimension to lingerie manufacturing and exports as more and more lingerie makers plan to augment capacities while others try to work their way up the value chain for better prospects.
Bangladesh’s lingerie manufacturers evolving steadily
Lingerie is a complicated product that requires the mix of right fabric and tailoring to complement sophisticated design so as to yield a good fit and user satisfaction. Expectedly so there aren’t many in Bangladesh to have mastered this art and KDS Group is one of them. Being one of the most renowned business conglomerates of Bangladesh, KDS provides all kinds of apparel manufacturing solutions like knits, woven, jackets, embroidery, quilting among many others.
SQ Group is a leading garment manufacturer from Bangladesh and a renowned name in intimatewear, catering to a host of global clientele including Marks & Spencer, being a dedicated supplier to the British multinational retailer.
The dedicated lingerie facility of SQ Group, SQ Birichina Ltd., is built on 128,000 sq. ft. area and had initial assembly capacity of 46 modules. However, to augment the style elasticity and cost competence, the company has invested greatly on capacity expansion and built additional 97,000 sq. ft. while extending the capacity to 110 modules from June 2014.
Another reason why more and more garment makers are taking to lingerie is because of its price advantage. Fetching better bargains compared to the regular product categories, lingerie is proving to be a better bet for those who are ready to move beyond the usual mix of shirts, T-shirts and denims to pursue something more profitable and exciting.
“…margins for intimate apparel average 20 per cent to 25 per cent, compared to 10 per cent for T-shirts,” claims Mahbubur Rahman Russell, Chief Operating Officer at KC Lingerie, reinforcing the popular sentiment amongst the ones keen to move out of their comfort zone and try their hands in intimatewear to effectively deal with the shrinking profit margins.
KC Lingerie reportedly has capacity to produce 3.1 million pieces of lingerie items per month from its 57 sewing lines and caters to brands like H&M, COS, Okaidi, Auchan, etc.
Chorka Textile Ltd. (CTL), a sister concern of the Pran-RFL conglomerate, is already planning to kick-start full-fledged double-shift production at its existing unit to meet the growing demand for knitwear, especially lingerie.
In fiscal 2020-21, the company exported lingerie worth US $ 90 million from its Narsingdi-based garment factory even if since its inception in 2013, CTL has invested around US $ 70 million to enhance capacities.
Says Engineer Zakir Hossain, Chairman of Hypoid Group, involved in manufacturing intimatewear for more than a decade, “Lingerie is growing and would continue to do so… China market is declining due to wage hike, so countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have very good opportunity to take the market share.”
Leading lingerie players in Bangladesh
Lingerie is a complicated product that requires the mix of right fabric and tailoring to complement sophisticated design so as to yield a good fit and user satisfaction.
Expectedly so, there aren’t many in Bangladesh to have mastered the art of lingerie making.However, exceptions are theresuch as Mohammadi Group, Intimate Apparels, Apex Group, Hop Lun BD, Blue PlanetKnitwears, Chorka Textiles, Zaber& Zubair, Mondol Group, Four H Group, Mahdeen Group,etc.
Ananta Apparels is another name which has invested in enhancing capacities lately.
It has pumped in a massive Taka 250 crore (US $ 28.24 million) to come up with a sophisticated lingerie factory in the port city of Chittagong last year only.
Not to leave it at that, Ananta is now planning to add 20 new production linesin it.
Managing Director of Ananta Apparels, Sharif Zahir attributed the planned production capacity expansion to growing demand for lingerie.
To provide the manufacturing unit sufficient raw material support (accessories and fabric play a very important role in adding value), Ananta Apparels is also planning to come up with a synthetic fabric plant at the Mirsarai Economic Zone at an investment of Taka400 crore (US $ 45 million).
Overseas players eyeing Bangladesh lingerie manufacturing industry
It’s not just the local players; entrepreneurs from Mainland China are also planning to establish lingerie units in Bangladesh.
If industry inputs are something to go by, certain amount of business is moving out of China for various reasons, to grab which many are spreading their wings beyond China and entering Bangladesh for good.
There’s also the added advantage of affordable labour in Bangladesh, which also plays a big role in luring those seeking greener pastures here in the country.
Kaixi Fashion Bangladesh Co Ltd., a Chinese textile company, has already announced an investment of US $ 6 million for a new unit at Dhaka Export Processing Zone, which will produce around 24 million pieces of ladies’ intimatewearannually.
Kaixi’s new unit is expected to generate employment for 2,000 Bangladeshi citizens.
Established in 1995, Kaixi Fashion owns three subsidiaries (Shenzhen Kaixi Fashion Co., Ltd, Shantou Kaixi Lingerie Industrial Co.Ltd, and MyanmarKaixi Lingerie Industrial Co., Ltd.). They produce, distribute and sell products ranging from traditional knitting lingerie bra, panties, to ‘invisible’ bra pads and straps.
It exports majority of the products to UK, France, Spain, Germany, Australia and Chile.
Given the impetus innerwear has gained lately, it would not be wrong to maintain lingerie is now the chosen product category for many in Bangladesh, who see in intimatewear thefuture growth path.
Thanks to the efforts of these players, global biggies like H&M, Kmart, Debenhams, Target, O’Stin, Celio, Auchan, Next, Primark, Jules and Walmart are now sourcing lingerie from Bangladesh in substantial quantities, say industry insiders adding many more are waiting to make their presence felt.