Why must innerwear be our best kept secret?

Why must innerwear be our best kept secret?
OUT IN THE OPEN: Models in resortwear by Pia Pauro
While women’s outerwear rules the marketing roost in India, unfortunately, one cannot say the same for innerwear. Newspaper and magazine advertising campaigns as well as TV commercials openly flaunt men’s underwear, and even have big stars like Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar featuring in them, but women’s innerwear is relegated to tiny items tucked away somewhere. Except perhaps for women’s magazines. Modesty probably being the best policy as far as women’s innerwear is concerned, the fact is that this lack of publicity also results in lack of awareness. Which is not really good for the underwear business.

Unlike the west where innerwear and outerwear get equal weightage, in our country, it’s still our best kept secret. When I spoke with an innerwear retailer, he told me that clients spend the least amount of time when choosing underwear. They hurry through their purchases as they are still uncomfortable to discuss product issues openly. Also, in how many shops in India will you find men buying women’s underwear? Forget buying, they won’t even accompany their significant other into the store. Whereas on the other hand, you will find plenty of women picking up boxers and suchlike for their husbands, sons and lovers.

In such a scenario, is it any wonder then that India still does not have a top underwear brand for women? The ones that we do have the most boring colour palette — black, white and skin. Not only do Indian brands not experiment much, their quality and sizing also leave a lot to be desired. However, with the entry of international brands, things seem to be looking up. Instead of the old boring shades, now there are plenty of neons, printed or textured innerwear that can be seen in stores. Taking a cue from globalwear, Indian brands too have begun experimenting with colour.

Also, thanks to the anonymity that internet provides, online sales of underwear have really shot up. As a friend who works in an e-commerce site told me, sales are picking up so well that this is, in fact, being seen as the next big thing. Since they’re not face to face with a shopkeeper here, women feel free to explore products and check out the specifications at length, and only then make a purchase.

Another encouraging sign is to see some of our Indian designers foraying into swimwear and lingerie and putting it on the ramp, giving it a respect as an accessory rather than just a basic necessity. In fact, a lot of fashion students that I interacted with recently, told me they were contemplating entering the segment. Generation Y, clearly, is all set for a change. We are in the 21st century for god’s sake, so let’s no longer shy away from uttering the words “bra” and “panty” as if it’s some kind of a taboo. The more we use the words, the more our mental blocks will diminish.

(The writer is a Delhi-based fashion designer)

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