More often than not, when the term fast fashion is brought up, the likes of loud prints, trendy blouses and dresses come to mind. From ugly sneakers to ultra ripped jeans, these trends performed rather well and has garnered popularity among the mass market. However, one particular category that has fallen into the blindspot is lingerie. With the exception of Victoria’s Secret, this category is rarely ever discussed unless linked to the brand’s renowned supermodels and fashion shows.
What Is The Global Lingerie Market Like?
While there are some brands that do carry lingerie, be it extensive or limited, the lack of it remains apparent among fast fashion brands. According to Euromonitor, lingerie reigned as the largest category in womenswear in 2013 and reached a total revenue of $110 billion in the following year. It was also estimated that this category would inflate within the next few years, which logically, does not come as a surprise.
Generally, lingerie is considered a necessity for a majority of women so a shortage of patronage for this category is unlikely. British retailer, Marks & Spencer, holds a 27.6% share in the lingerie market in the UK, selling over 21 million bras annually and two pairs of knickers per second. Hence, to disregard this behemoth of a market would be plain ignorant.
Source: Victoria’s Secret
Who Are the Big Names in This Industry?
It is no surprise that American brand, Victoria’s Secret, has always been a top contender in this category, dominating 35% of the U.S. lingerie market. Their iconic “Bombshell Bra” that promises an additional two cups to your bust has garnered a cult following, including Kylie Jenner. Other lingerie brands like La Senza and Agent Provocateur have also earned a name for themselves in this industry. However, these lingerie brands are highly niche and marketed as high-end. As expected, with such a large brand image also comes with an equally hefty price tag.
Studies have shown that the market for luxury lingerie may be attributed to the “lipstick effect”, with women feeling the burn of splurging on luxury items, and occasionally treating themselves to glamorous and lavish lingerie. Despite their fame, the stock market for Victoria’s Secret has plummeted 45% in 2017, with more women opting out of this brand due to the cost.
However, given that a majority of consumers fall under the medium income range, it would only be logical for more mid-ranged lingerie to be carried by fast fashion brands. It should be easier for most consumers to shop for lingerie that are more suited for daily wear and are easily accessible, just like the nature of fast fashion collections.
How Is Lingerie Performing in Fast Fashion?
There are fast fashion brands that carry their own lingerie line, albeit limited. Aerie is a lingerie spinoff by American fast fashion retailer, American Eagle, which has been quite popular among the mass market. The sub-brand proved to be a dominant force behind the company’s sales growth, contributing to 11% of American Eagle’s total revenue in 2016. Aeries also showed no signs of slowing down by opening over 50 new stores in 2017.
So is lingerie a worthwhile market to venture into or will this path lead to possible losses? We analysed fast fashion retail giant, Missguided’s extensive lingerie range to determine how this category performed for them so far this year.
Missguided’s lingerie category bore impressive sellout and replenishment rates. Despite the relatively high discount rate, the sellout rate was still twice its amount with the replenishment rate trailing closely behind.
The above average performance shown proved that there is a continuous flow of purchases in this category.
With this information, it’s a wonder why a majority of lingerie sold is still niche and exclusive (and not to mention pricey). Founder of lingerie brand Naja, Catalina Girald told Pando, “There is not a lot (of lingerie) out there in the mass market”, indicating that lingerie still remains predominantly capitalised by niche brands but given its imminent necessity, this should not be the case. With such a huge market potential, fast fashion retailers should consider supplying to this demand.
With Missguided in the race, let’s take a closer look at their most sought-after lingerie styles.
Bestsellers: Going Wireless?
From left to right: Missguided
In this article, we will only focus on bras as it is undeniably the most popular lingerie subcategory for Missguided. For the bestsellers, it seemed that wireless technology is no longer subjected to just electronic devices and has been quite favoured in the designs. Lace also seemed to be the popular material used for their best-selling bras.
Not surprisingly, consumers are now opting for unique bra styles rather than the traditional full coverage and wired varieties. Nancy Szachno-Dressel, a lingerie buyer at the department store John Lewis, shared that non-wired bras made up 40% of bra sales, a 32% increase from the previous year with comfort playing a big role in this surge. Such bras (non-wired, minimal or no padding) are also known as bralettes, the epitome of comfort in lingerie. Even Victoria’s Secret, a brand that is generally attributed with fancy cleavage enhancing push-up bras have switched lanes by introducing bralettes to their collection.
Are Traditional Bras Obsolete?
While there are still a number of padded and full coverage bras stocked by Missguided, these bras remained overshadowed by bralettes in terms of quantity and market performance. It is apparent that the ubiquitous nature of bralettes are equally as popular when lingerie purchases were made on Missguided.
From left to right: Missguided
Another type of bra on Missguided that did well in terms of replenishment and sellout rates would be brown-coloured (or nude) bras. These products have gone out-of-stock at least 6 times and replenished 8 times within the time frame, a notable difference from the other products that did not do as well. Such bras are especially designed to be “barely seen” when worn under either sheer, plunging neckline, strapless or backless tops and adhesive to the skin, sans straps and buckles. Given the high replenishment and sellout rates, this could possibly mean that their consumers are on the hunt for skin toned bras.
Could the popularity of these bras result in the colour brown being in the top five best-selling colours for the lingerie category of Missguided?
Here, the obvious favourite colour for lingerie among the consumers was black. Red was the only bold colour among the top five, possibly indicating that when it comes to stepping out of their comfort zone, red would be the colour of choice for most consumers. Oddly enough, brown was nowhere in sight despite its popularity among the bestsellers.
The table above illustrated the performance for the brown lingerie from Missguided. Despite a lower discount rate offered for the brown lingerie in comparison to the average overall category, the sellout and replenishment rates still performed well. The minuscule SKU numbers for brown-coloured bras, in comparison to the other colours, could possibly indicate that Missguided seemed to have overlooked the high demand of skin-toned bras among their consumers.
Source: Nubian Skin
The lack of a more diverse “nude” colour spectrum has always been an issue in the lingerie industry, especially when it comes to a darker shade of brown. Occasionally, some women may opt to wear brown-coloured lingerie that matches their skin tone so it remains invisible underneath their clothes. Nubian Skin is a British lingerie brand that managed to turn this issue into a prosperous business, even attaining the clientele of Beyoncé during her Formation world tour.
As stated previously, lingerie is a rather crucial and necessary category for women, something more fashion retailers should take note of and consider introducing in their current offering. This is when data is important to ensure that every demand is met, such as determining what is selling or lacking in the market. In order to fill the gaping hole in the affordable lingerie market, it is about time that fast fashion retailers give niche, exclusive brands a run for their money.
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The data above was obtained from Omnilytics, real-time market data platform. The numbers and statistics may vary, as the platform is updated every day. The time period of the information taken was between 1st January 2018 to 30th April 2018 .