Competitive, fragmented, and lucrative, China’s intimate wear market is a $16-billion-a-year industry.
The category has seen major expansion and consumers have since become much more selective about their intimate apparel. According to Peng Guifu, president of the Chinese Textile Commerce Association’s China Underwear Committee, consumer taste has shifted increasingly to indy brands.
“Independent brands have become the new force in economic development,” Peng told Women’s Wear Daily. “As the market opens up further, competition has increased, but private enterprises are able to develop among competition. Generally speaking, China’s economic development shows diversity.”
With so much economic growth and diversification, it’s worth keeping an eye on these brands. According to Euromonitor, the domestic innerwear brands Aimer, Embry, and Maniform performed the best in the Chinese market in 2012, with Aimer taking in a market share of 1.9 percent and Embry and Maniform 1.1 percent and 1 percent respectively.
Glitz and sophistication are the hallmarks of the Beijing-based Aimer lingerie brand, which targets older, affluent women. With stores in several Asian countries and over 2,000 retail locations across China, Aimer’s reach is expansive. Aimer also has an e-commerce website that allows the brand to take international orders. The online presence is of great importance to the company, as e-commerce has the potential to expand by as much as 20 percent a year, even as retail sales ebb.
The Embry Group was one of the first companies to market Western-style undergarments designed specifically for Asian women to Chinese consumers. The Group first entered the Chinese market in the Nineties, and now hosts 2,200 retail outlets on the mainland, according to Women’s Wear Daily. Its flagship brand, Embry Form, has been named the best-selling lingerie brand by the China Industrial Information Issuing Center for the past 17 consecutive years. In 2012, the company unveiled its sixth brand, Iadore, to cater to a new high-end demographic. Market diversification is the Embry Group’s strategy to combat China’s recent economic downturn, and it appears to be working: the company’s revenues for the first half of last year grew 10.8 percent in comparison to the same period of time in 2012, generating $146.4 million.
The flagship brand of the private Huijie Group, based in Shenzhen, sells “high-end lingerie for mature women seeking individuality and self-expression,” but, like Embry, has also found power in market diversification, branching into sleepwear, maternity clothes, and shapewear. One of six individual brands under Huijie, Maniform has 2,000 points of sale in China, and was number one in lingerie sales from 2002 to 2012.
image credit: aimer