The reason behind the huge jump in underwear export to the US

The reason behind the huge jump in underwear export to the US

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Summary: The global undergarment market is a multi-billion dollar industry with a wide variety of products. North America accounts for 30% of the global underwear market. With markets opening up post-pandemic and supply lines in manufacturing nations such as China turning to normal operations, exports have gone up by 21% in Jan-Feb 2022. 

Undergarments have become an integral clothing accessory with major fashion brands vying for a larger market share in the premium and sports segment. Post-pandemic, the underwear market in the US is witnessing a huge surge in demand. Customers are starting to invest in innerwear again with public functions and sporting events resuming after the Covid outbreak subsided. As a result, manufacturing nations, particularly, those in Asia, such as China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, are flooded with demand for lingerie shipment to the US. 

If apparel experts are to be believed, this surge in demand is going to continue till the end of this decade. The US is the largest importer of underwear after the European Union. Together they account for 70% of the global underwear market, which stood at US 43 billion dollars in 2020. This market is set to double by the year 2028. Now that we know that the inners are here to stay, let us find out the main drivers for this increased demand in the US. 

Why the US is witnessing an undergarment demand surge 

The reasons for the sudden increase in demand for innerwear in the United States are manifold. The primary drivers are the opening of the market after the pandemic, better earnings, and demand fueled by millennials. The result is that the US is on an importing spree. Here are the main reasons behind the huge jump in underwear exports to the US.  

1. Demand spike after the pandemic has receded

The market has slowly begun to open back up after being on lockdown for over a year.  After being cooped up inside for so long, people are finally getting back to normal and enjoying the outdoors! As a result, the demand for underwear has surged, especially in the US and Europe.

2. Awareness of best fit among millennials 

Millennials are more aware of the needs of their bodies and conscious of what they wear. They are more willing to invest in personal hygiene, and underwear is an extension of that. As a result, there is an increased demand for innerwear. 

3. Increase in purchasing power 

purchasing power 

One of the major reasons for a spike in the demand for underwear is the import of women’s lingerie in the US going up. A part of this demand is fueled by an increased income of women, which has resulted in more disposable income.  

4. Demand for sports and marriage-related lingerie 

A fresh lease of life to sports activities has got people looking toward a healthier lifestyle, and that includes well-fitting undergarments. A surge in lingerie is also being associated with marriages going lavish like big, fat Greek style. 

5. Fashion brands expanding their product line 

The pandemic had choked the supply lines in China, which is the manufacturing hub of the world. Like other goods, underwear shipments were also stalled due lack of raw materials and production halts in the country. With markets opening up again, fashion brands are expanding their product line by releasing new items to attract customers.

Why India is falling behind other Asian countries in women’s lingerie exports

women’s lingerie exports

Consider this: Between January and November 2021, China exported women’s lingerie worth $859 million to the US. Vietnam with almost $500 million was the second in underwear exports. India was nowhere in the top 5 exporters. So, why is India lagging in innerwear exports to the US and Europe? 

Manufacturing women’s lingerie, especially brassieres, has a complex engineering process that requires up to 20 components at the same time. Most of these components are processed and not readily available in India. Also, women’s innerwear is research-intensive, requiring information about body types and shapes, color preferences, and fabric qualities, which many companies do not have access to. As a result, India accounted for just 1.9% of the total exports to the US, while China grabbed the lion’s share of 33%.  

What the trend says 

The innerwear demand is not a flash in the pan. The US imported innerwear worth $723 million in January and February 2022. This is an increase of more than 21% compared to the corresponding period in the previous year when imports stood at around $594 million. With the pandemic releasing its hold on the manufacturing countries and supply lines opening up, this demand is likely to go only up north. 


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Key takeaways 

  1. North America accounts for 30% of the global underwear market, next only to Europe Union, which boasts a 40% share.
  1. One-third of the demand in the US is sourced from China. The other countries exporting underwear to China include Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
  2. India is not among the top 5 underwear exporters to the US. 

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