European manufacturers looking for new outlets in the Far East should turn their attention to Taiwan say the organisers of the recent Salon Internationale de la Lingerie exhibition in Paris.

Basing their findings on statistics recently issued by the Economic Expansion Post in Tapei, they pinpoint the Chinese island as an important new niche market for European style products, driven by "the increasing affluence and emancipation of Taiwan's eight million women." 

International brands already available in Taiwan include Barbara, Princess Tam Tam, Lejaby and Triumph.

Meanwhile local sources suggest that the best future opportunities for overseas suppliers lie in the field of teen-appeal garments, a sector where Triumph already holds a 30 per cent share of the local market.

Among the young the biggest demand is for padded or underwired bras. Conversely, however, the second largest growth sector is large cup size and maternity bras. 

Currently the Taiwanese are spending the equivalent of 820 million Euros a year on underwear, with female purchasing accounting for 80 per cent of that total. Moreover, although at the moment the ladies of Taiwan buy only 2.6 bras and six pairs of knickers a year the market is estimated to be growing at the rate of l2 per cent a year.

Taiwanese tastes favour pastel shades but red also always sells well since it traditionally considered a lucky colour by all Chinese.

On a more functional front, the humid climate of the region means cotton underwear is in constant demand, although the latest microfibre, simulated cotton fabrics are expected to sell well.

Would be overseas suppliers should note that the retail trade in Taiwan is moving from the departmental and "madame shop" concept to modern style multiple retailing.

By Sonia Roberts.