Innerwear MarketLingerie is no longer a strictly private good that one mostly buys from some small basement shop with no display; they increasingly indulge in fashionable lingerie, catching the attention of several international and domestic marketers

Iconic brands such as ‘Victoria’s Secret’ of the US and ‘Agent Provocateur’ of the UK have their eyes on the Indian lingerie market, while Japanese lingerie brand Wacoal has already made a proposal to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to form a joint venture to open single brand shops in the country.

Domestic players too are excited about the huge potential. Delhi-based Groversons, which has been selling women’s innerwear in the country for 60 years, plans to go public within a couple of years to fund a big-ticket expansion to cash in on a huge opportunity.

Mr. Rakesh Grover, managing director of the Rs 100-crore Groversons, said the lingerie segment now is like what the car market was when Maruti came in and captured the market. “It is a paradigm shift. There is huge change. Consumers are making choices and we have to be prepared to make the best of this opportunity,” he said.

The company now focuses on stylish colourful designs after selling mostly simple white, black and brown lingerie for decades.

Mr. Pragyee Jaiman, a lingerie designer at Groversons, said, “Things are changing. Women, both young and old, are experimenting with new designs, colours and materials and want to pamper themselves.”

The buying experience too has improved in recent years with many retailers employing skilled sales staff to help buyers make the right choices. What is powering this segment is the increasing financial independence of women in India. They are now able to and willing to spend money on the objects of their desire. Also, experts said, lingerie is seen as a reflection of social change and an agent for women empowerment.

“Increasing share of western wear in the women’s wardrobe, the trend of occasion and outfit-based innerwear and the growing awareness and desire to indulge in branded intimate apparel is expected to continue driving the growth of the lingerie subcategory,” Mr. Amit Gugnani, senior vice president of Technopak Consultancy said.

Technopak has estimated the innerwear market in India (organised and unorganised) at Rs. 17,750 crore and expected it to grow three times in 10 years. Women’s wear accounts for 61 per cent of the total innerwear market.

“Lingerie is an indulgence like chocolates,” Mr. Karan Behal, founder of, an online lingerie retail start-up said. This service raised $3 million since 2012 from Indian Angel Network, Harvard Business School Alumni Angels India and Orios Venture Partners.

The Mumbai-based start-up is confident of raising 10 million US dollar in its next round of funding, which might happen next year. “We are not even looking for funding right now, but still there is so much interest being shown by investors,” Mr. Behal said.

Another Mumbai-based entrepreneur said he has already held a few rounds of talks with Agent Provocateur to sell its products in India, at an entry level price point of Rs. 10,000.

“The category is quite competitive, so we plan to focus on products for expecting mothers,” a company official said. UK retailer Marks and Spencer has already opened an exclusive store to sell lingerie and innerwear in Mumbai.