July 10, 2003 02:37pm
Demure Lingerie Line Launched in India
Source: AP Asia
by: Laurinda Keys
(NEW DELHI, INDIA) -- A top French lingerie firm has a sure bet for expansion: selling its product in a nation where millions of women don't wear underwear.
The French-designed Enamor line of bras and panties are mostly in white, with little lace and no see-throughs - and with an emphasis on comfortable cotton for India's hot climate. But they represent a radical change for India: female customers can actually try on a brassiere before buying it.
The new lingerie, unveiled Thursday, was worn by models who tastefully displayed the demure line of panties and bras - themselves a major change from the way underwear is usually marketed in India.
Tens of millions of Indian women who live in rural areas wear no panties because they are swathed in layers of petticoats and saris and use outdoor toilets. Bras are either not worn, or are home-sewn wraparound cloths, tied at the front.
Even in cities, buying underwear is considered an embarrassing act. Men usually go into a shop, estimate their wife's or daughter's size and buy the product in an opaque box from a male clerk.
Thus, even educated, professional Indian women go around in ill-fitting underwear.
By contrast, the Enamor lingerie is to be sold in stores with female clerks advising women on the best fit and - almost unheard of in India - the customer can actually try on a brassiere before buying it.
The Indian lingerie market, now valued at $347 million, has been growing at an average 12 percent per year, according to Gokaldas Intimatewear Ltd., the new French-Indian lingerie joint-venture that produces the Enamor line. Barbara Group, a French retail brand, is making the underwear in association with Indian garment maker Gokaldas Images.
The target clientele is middle-class women, aged 18-40, who can afford to spend $3 to $6 on a bra. Enamor comes in 19 sizes, and in styles ranging from a denim stretch sport bra to a strapless peach satin bustier style for evening wear.
Product demonstrations are planned at colleges and beauty salons. And in retail stores, "our consultants will be there to help the woman pick the right style and educate them on the importance of wearing right-fitting underwear," said brand manager Priya Puri.
Still, it may be a hard sell.
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