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Lingering over lingerie

From just comfort-fit and a modest need, innerwear is now a fashion accessor



Right fit Be it casual wear or formals, choose the right inner wear

Buying intimatewear in Hyderabad meant stepping into hosiery or a departmental store a quick search for a woman salesperson and then saying the size and the brand. No more. Now, shops have an in-your-face displays and the furtiveness has made way for a confident search for comfort.

The brands

If you can pick a copy of Victoria’s Secret innerwear in Abids and M.G. Road, you can buy originals of Jockey, Hanes, Lovable, Triumph and the homegrown Enamor. And, yes, there are trial rooms. Understanding the sentiments of the Indian woman, the staff here is predominantly female. As to how well-trained they are, the poor customer (not literally!) just has to rely on her own instincts to pick up the right size. It is still a game of trial-and-error with hardly any help forthcoming from the sales staff. One of the earliest brands to come to India has helpful cards on bra science affixed on every piece of lingerie.

The floor manager of a mall in Begumpet says despite global brands bottomsizing prices most women still find the prices a little prohibitive. Plus, the mindset remains that why spend so much on innerwear when a dress can be bought at the same price.

A salesgirl at a lingerie section makes an interesting observation. “It is the office-goers who pick up the scarlets, greens, purples and oranges, the wild prints, the checks and stripes and polka dots.”

Suman Nathwani, our first home-grown lingerie designer, contends there is awareness in the market. Women are buying different kinds of lingerie, thanks to the ready availability of foreign brands. Besides the professionals, it is the housewives who have more buying power and are keen to learn more about lingerie, she feels.

The market is flooded with designs and colours. Suman says push-up, strapless and multi-way bras are popular with women. Polkas and wild prints are in. The strong colours are reserved for the winter. Lace is slowly becoming a part of a woman’s wardrobe.

She avers Indian women are still not satisfied with the fit of the brassiere. And, that’s because most of them are not aware of their size. They are indulgent and also experimental but feel let down when they pick up a piece of lingerie that spells catastrophe for their comfort. Feeling cheated, they blame the brand.


Dress designer Pooja Sahni from Hyderabad seconds this. She believes 90 per cent women wear the wrong bra size.

She was aghast to find a client, a globe-trotter, clad in an ill-fitting bra with flesh hanging in the armpits. She shopped for her bras at General Bazaar and had the notion underwired bras could lead to cancer.

From viewing innerwear as an item of utility, women across the social spectrum are increasingly turning to it as a fashion accessory. Not just high-end magazines but even home-grown ones in vernacular languages devote a lot of space to this segment.

There are at least two niche magazines on innerwear, Inner Secrets and Lace ’N’ Lingerie. Not just actresses but even wannabes on countless dance and reality shows reveal stunning lingerie beneath see-through dresses.

Showing a bra strap is no longer considered offensive. Maybe, the woman just wants to flaunt her jeweled straps.

A shopkeeper at a hosiery shop in Secunderabad says the women, including the older ones, have become demanding about comfort and style. They don’t want to suffer in silence. The younger lot, especially the to-be-weds and newly-weds, tend to experiment with designs, cuts and colours.

There is certainly a stir in the market about lingerie. The new retail environment is proof of this. With India as a destination market, more players are ready to hop on to the lingerie bandwagon. With the competition hotting up, fashion consciousness and quality awareness is sure to follow.

Inner truths

* Most women are unaware of the right sizes they should be wearing.

* The right size not only ensures good support but accentuates the clothes you wear.

* The push-up, strapless and multi-way varities are popular.

* Polkas and wild prints are in, while strong colours are reserved for the winter.

* Office-goers pick up scarlets, greens, purples and oranges, the wild prints, the checks and stripes and polka dots.

KOMAL VIJAY SINGH

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