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    'Bralette movement' of Chinese Women's Underwear

    Source: 24 new sounds | Editor: sunhing │ Date: November 20, 2020

    The women's underwear industry is setting off a 'bralette movement'.

    From upstream to downstream, from fabrics to craftsmanship, female underwear is undergoing revolutionary ecological changes. The 'true self, natural' female vision gradually replaced the 'sexy and charming' male vision.


    Why is there a big change in female underwear? How does this change affect the front and back waves of underwear brands? How will the trend of women's underwear market evolve in the future?


    Female consciousness awakening

    The size of the bralette market continues to grow.

    According to the 'Underwear Industry Trend Research' released by CBNData, the bralette market ushered in an explosion in 2017, with a market growth rate of nearly 50%. From the perspective of consumer groups, the post-90s accounted for more than half, and the growth rate of the number of post-95 consumers and consumption is expected.

    According to a market survey conducted by iiMedia Research, up to 76.6% of consumers in China in 2020 prefer bralette. In the global market, there is also considerable growth in bralettes. According to data from the online lingerie retailer Figleaves, the bralette increased by 40% in the early stage of the epidemic, and continued to increase by 42% in June.

    'Underwear should of course be comfortable to wear. The feeling of the body is more important than the evaluation of others. Because I am fatter, wearing underwear with underwires in summer will leave marks, and wearing for a long time will make me unable to breathe.' Born after 2000, the girl Xiaoya (pseudonym) told 24 new sounds. She is 163cm tall and weighs 66kg. She usually buys underwear from e-commerce platforms. There are 2-3 stores opened by her favorite Internet celebrity bloggers, and they will regularly update them and will not buy so-called big brands.

    图源:小雅提供的内衣购买订单Source: Underwear purchase order provided by Xiaoya

    The outbreak of bralette has injected new impetus into the industry's prospects. From steel rims to no steel rims to size-free, the Chinese underwear market is setting off a vigorous 'subtraction action.' Most consumers can feel this trend: the rise and fall of underwear brand rankings are all around 'comfort'.

    Whether it is Ubras, BANANAIN or NEIWAI, they are sought after by consumers all the way, but also favored by capital. The common reason why they become the TOP sub-categories is precisely because they cut into the real needs of consumers.

    The exclusive data provided by Alibaba to 24 new sounds shows that from November 1st to 11th this year, the cumulative underwear brands exceeded 100 million (the order amount, the same below) brands including Ubras, Uniqlo, Bananain, and Manifin.


    Among the brands with high year-on-year growth rates in the underwear industry from 1 to 11 days, Sujibra has a year-on-year growth rate of over 900%; Agentprovocateur has a year-on-year growth rate of over 800%; Adamunderwear has a year-on-year growth rate of over 500%.

    图源:素肌良品提供,素肌良品与Ubras、蕉内的业务情况对比Source: Provided by Sujibra, business comparison between Sujibra, Ubras and BANANAIN

    Especially Ubras and NEIWAI, can be called the self-salvation of people with small breasts. They all hope to change the 'anti-female' design of underwear to make bras more comfortable, instead of squeezing the chest and deliberately squeezing out the career line.

    Regarding this trend of women's underwear, Sujibra founder Xianqian Mai told 24 new sounds that in the past, the patriarchal aesthetic was the dominant one, and women were educated by various brands. 'It must be sexy. As long as you have a good figure and body shape, you will get social recognition. Victoria's Secret has been selling this anxiety. But from 2015 to 2016, comfortable underwear and non-sense underwear are soaring, and some women's consciousness Begin to awaken and should wear it for yourself.'

    She said that the company has been in the underwear industry for 9 years. After discovering this trend, it settled on Tmall in 2017 and began to develop more comfortable underwear. 'Based on the fact that the steel ring is too tight but the steel ring is too loose, the company has made an intermediate plan, which is soft support underwear.'

    From steel ring to no steel ring, from chest pad to no chest pad, it is not only a major innovation of women's underwear, but also an upgrade of the consumption of women's underwear.

    After all, as intimate clothing, women's underwear ultimately speaks with 'quality'. Including but not limited to the perception of soft, fluffy, smooth, itchy, moisturizing, cold and warm, product quality is very important.

    Retail expert Yuezhong Bao told 24 new sounds that not only the underwear industry has changed, but the entire clothing brand is now beginning to make adjustments, because in the Internet environment, the core of operation is users, not just products. Brands need to focus on the modern Internet environment, solve user operations, user activity and other issues, and must adjust their business models to adapt to the current Internet environment.

    Reshaping the supply chain

    The Chinese underwear market is opening up a deep-level revolution of technology + user insight + business model reshaping.

    Public data shows that the Chinese underwear market is growing rapidly, and the market size in 2019 is about 460 billion yuan. iiMedia Research data shows that in 2019, China's underwear consumption demand has reached 16.77 billion pieces, and it is expected to exceed 17 billion pieces by the end of 2020.


    But the underwear market has long been in an awkward situation of 'big pools and small fish'. The reason why the underwear industry is facing a half-worried half-happy situation is directly related to the supply chain.

    One is that in the past, the production process for mass production of women's underwear with steel rims and adjustable type was complicated, and the production process of an underwear was about 30-40. In addition, a complex size system is required. Conventional bra products have 10 to 12 SKUs in size, and with different colors, there are hundreds of SKUs at every turn, which has stringent requirements for supporting supply chain capabilities.

    Now the ultimate comfort underwear and the adjustable underwear are completely different supply chains, not produced in the same factory. Although the procedures for comfortable underwear are reduced, the process will not become simpler, and the difficulty of production will be greater.

    The female underwear produced before was mainly a sewing process, which was basically manual operation by personnel. However, most of the comfortable underwear is based on the fitting process, and the degree of mechanization will be higher.

    In a commercial society, standard products are easier to win. Industrial products mass-produced through assembly lines can quickly open the market with low prices and stable quality. With the improvement of women's underwear technology, it may be possible to enter the 'semi-industrial era'.

    Xianqian Mai introduced that some traditional brands in the industry even had 100,000 SKUs. However, the trend in the underwear industry is slowly evolving towards fewer SKUs. Brands are more willing to spend more time polishing a single product and then make it an explosive product.

    The production cost of comfortable underwear will not be reduced because of this. First of all, the choice of fabrics is higher than the previous requirements. For example, it is required to wash many times, but it will not open and curl the edges, and must maintain good resilience. These details need to be optimized little by little.

    In the past, the main consideration for underwear design was how to make lace and fabric match perfectly, just the appearance. The difficulty of developing an underwear now is how to better fit the human body, including the curvature and edges of the version, which require repeated experiments.

    'So every time we develop a product, it takes half a year. At present, we have a new one every two months.' Xianqian Mai said.

    Second, in order to create a 'explosive style' effect on a huge scale, the previous female underwear brand must solve the 'fatal problem' of inventory.

    The industry predicts that under the huge market of 2.5 trillion yuan, the traditional 'production-based sales' business model of the Chinese apparel industry will waste hundreds of billions of yuan in inventory.

    However, inventory is no longer a problem that is difficult to manage, because there are many data systems empowered, whether it is ordering, development, production, delivery, etc., are managed in a very data-based way. For example, Sujibra's turnaround time has been shortened to 30 to 60 days.

    'In the future, offline retail has great opportunities. In 2021, we will deploy offline stores in first-tier cities such as Guangzhou.' Xianqian Mai said.

    Will the giants appear?

    Although the underwear market is a category that 'users just need', the current Chinese underwear market is still showing a phenomenon of 'big but not strong'.

    According to Euromonitor statistics, the market concentration of TOP5 brands in China's underwear market in 2018 was only 6.6%. In the same period, the concentration of TOP5 brands in mature markets such as Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom has reached 56%, 47%, and 22%.

    According to statistics, more than 3000 brands in my country are competing on the same stage in the women's underwear market. According to the monitoring data of my country's offline retail channels by the China Chamber of Commerce and the China National Commercial Information Center, even AIMER, which has the highest comprehensive market share in 2019, only accounted for 7.34%.

    At the same time, the business world and social thoughts of women's underwear are also undergoing chain changes. Victoria's Secret British branch is deeply in bankruptcy. The traditional Chinese underwear brand COSMO LADY continues to close stores in various places, and the loss is expanding.

    Once the king of the underwear industry has been analyzed and dismantled several times, used as a commercial warning, and the corresponding new player has become famous.

    Among them, domestic niche underwear brands NEIWAI and Ubras are gaining momentum. On August 19, NEIWAI officially announced that Faye Wong became the global spokesperson, which caused widespread concern. Pro shows that the company has received 7 rounds of financing.

    NEIWAI内外内衣品牌Source: Pro

    Ubras' 618 sales exceeded 100 million in a single month for the first time this year. The consumer repurchase rate exceeded 80%, and the product sales rate reached 90%. It became the first place in the 618 non-size underwear sales list this year. According to Pro, the company has received two rounds of financing. Among them, it received a B round of hundreds of millions of yuan in financing on September 10 this year, led by Sequoia China, and Capital Today followed suit.

    Ubras内衣品牌Source: Pro

    Bananain also officially completed hundreds of millions of yuan in Series A financing on November 13, with a post-investment valuation of 2.5 billion yuan.

    Bananain蕉内内衣品牌Source: Pro

    In contrast, the situation of the underwear giants in the past is embarrassing.

    'The main reason is that traditional underwear brands are seriously aging, and the products and needs can no longer meet the needs of young people.' Xianqian Mai said that young people are not willing to buy brands that mothers often buy. They may feel that there is no underwear to buy for a long time. , No longer recognize those brands with backward concepts, which also provides opportunities for the influx of new brands.

    However, no matter how many new and cutting-edge brands are pouring into the lingerie industry, no company has reached the popularity of Victoria's Secret and COSMO LADY.

    The reason for the low concentration of the underwear industry is that the previous sales channels of the underwear industry were relatively single and scattered; the second is that the brand homogeneity of traditional underwear is particularly serious, and there is basically no difference between the products of various brands. All kinds of underwear in the store seem to be just Changed a LOGO; third, the Chinese underwear brand started late compared with Europe, America and Japan.

    'In fact, the time for the emergence of giants in the domestic underwear industry has not yet arrived, but I think that in the past few years, some brands based on different groups of people will focus on the head.' Xianqian Mai explained that this is based on sports, daily work, breastfeeding, Under different scenes related to emotions, there will be some excellent underwear brands occupying the top position among specific groups of people.

    This means that sooner or later China will usher in a giant of underwear brands.

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