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GLOBAL LINGERIE SOURCING SUPPLY AND MARKET TRENDS

By Malcolm Newbery | 17th August 2018

just-style - the team behind re:source, that also publish research on the apparel industry - has just launched the 2018 version of its report looking into the global lingerie market 'Global market review of lingerie – forecasts to 2023'.

What sets this edition apart is that it is the first to include data from re:source. In doing so, it enhances previous market trend estimates by combining them with an analysis of the major players (exporters) in global sourcing, and the winners and losers within those exporting countries.

So, what’s in the report?

Well, it contains four sections, which we’ll dip into in this top-line review of the report’s findings:

• The global sourcing position

• Growing and declining exporter countries

• The global market position

• Growing and declining markets

The global sourcing position

re:source’s database of exporting countries, when analysed, shows that the top ten exporters of lingerie in ranked order are:


1. China
2. Sri Lanka
3. Bangladesh
4. Vietnam
5. India
6. Thailand
7. Indonesia
8. Honduras
9. Turkey
10. Romania

Of the seven Asian countries that top the rankings, China is totally dominant. It has 36% of world exports, whereas Sri Lanka has 8%, and Bangladesh 6%. Honduras is a large supplier to the US but holds only 2% globally. Turkey and Romania are large suppliers to the EU but hold only 1% each globally. Together the top ten account for two-thirds of world lingerie trade.


It is important to know where these exports go, in order to understand both buyers' decisions on sourcing, and the source countries' marketing strategies. Each of the four tables below contain the main supplier countries from which the major developed countries and regions source their lingerie, and those countries' and regions' share of the import market. The import regions are US, Japan and EU. Within the tables the biggest importing source countries are valued in US$ currency.


The lingerie sector in total, is dominated by bras and briefs, with total imports of over US$12bn. Slips are quite minor in terms of import trade and have not been included in this headline article.

Imports of bras by major developed countries/regions

Import value in US$bn Top 10 import %
Major region total imports 7.28
Top 10 sources imports 5.57 76
US total imports 2.68
Top 10 sources imports 2.53 94
Japan total imports 0.63
Top 10 sources imports 0.63 100
EU total imports 3.97
Top 10 sources imports 2.93 74

Source: just-style


The EU is the largest bra importing region. The US sources almost all its bras from its top ten countries. Japan sources everything from its top ten countries.

Top ten exporting source countries for bras

Export value in US$bn Top 10 export %
China 2.99 41
Sri Lanka 0.52 7
Vietnam 0.37 5
Bangladesh 0.35 5
Indonesia 0.31 4
India 0.14 2
Thailand 0.14 2
Honduras 0.13 2
Dominican Republic 0.1 1
El Salvador 0.09 1
Top ten sourcing country total 5.16 71

Source: just-style


• China is far and away the dominant source country accounting for 41% of total bra exports to the three countries/ regions
• Nine other countries (six in Asia, and three in Central America) contribute a further 30%, but none of them reaches 10% of the total. Within those nine:
• Sri Lanka (7%) is strong in both US and EU
• Bangladesh (5%) supplies mainly to the EU
• Vietnam (5%) exports primarily to US and Japan

After the top ten, no other sourcing country achieves 1% of total imports


Japan has relatively few source countries. The US does a lot of importing from Central America, and the EU sources from more than 150 countries, of which 130 are external

Imports of briefs by major developed countries/regions

Import value in US$bn Top 10 import %
Major region total imports 5.11
Top 10 sources imports 3.91 76
USA total imports 1.8
Top 10 sources imports 1.69 93
Japan total imports 0.4
Top 10 sources imports 0.4 99
EU total imports 2.91
Top 10 sources imports 2.21 76

Source: just-style

Top ten exporting source countries for briefs

Export value in US$bn Top 10 export %
China 1.69 33
Sri Lanka 0.46 9
Bangladesh 0.44 9
India 0.25 5
Vietnam 0.21 4
Thailand 0.17 3
Turkey 0.11 2
Romania 0.06 1
Honduras 0.05 1
Indonesia 0.05 1
Top ten sourcing country total 3.5 69

Source: just-style


The commentary on a very similar sourcing situation for briefs as for bras is that:


• China remains by far and away the dominant source country accounting for 33% of total bra exports to the three countries/regions
• Nine other countries (six in Asia, one in Central America and two in Europe – Turkey is considered here to be European) contribute a further 36%, but none of them reaches 10% of the total. Within those nine:

• Sri Lanka (9%) is strong in all three countries/regions
• Bangladesh (9%) supplies mainly to the US and the EU
• India (5%) also supplies mainly to the US and the EU
• Vietnam (4%) exports primarily to US and Japan
• After the top ten with 69%, only two other sourcing countries achieve even 1% of total imports
• Japan has relatively few source countries, the US does a lot of importing from Central America, and the EU sources from just about everywhere.

Although small in value, slips have a similar sourcing pattern to both bras and briefs.

Growing and declining exporter countries

As the report only took 2016 as a base year from the re:source database, it did not include re:source's historic sourcing time lines. But we are strongly of the view that:


• Although it may be slowly losing percentage share, China will still be the number one exporter for a considerable time yet
• The growing exporter countries at the moment are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam
• The future decliners are likely to be India and Central America

The global market position

just-style believes that in 2018, lingerie is worn by a global female population of 3,765m. Of that number 28% are aged from zero to 13 years. They wear briefs (panties, or knickers). They do not yet, because of their age, wear bras. So, the:


• Briefs wearing female population is 3,765m
• Bra wearing female population is estimated at 2,711m

Our estimate of the world consumption (purchases) of the two main underwear products is that:


• 5,275m briefs will be bought in 2018
• 1,605m bras will be bought in 2018

The breakdown of the market in US$bn and % across the continents is given in Table 5 below.

Global lingerie market 2018 at retail prices

Global market North America Europe Asia South America Rest of the World
Total lingerie US$bn 29.9 8.04 11.71 6.13 2.33 1.74
Total % 27% 39% 20% 8% 6%
Bras US$bn 16.6 4.9 6.4 3 1.3 1
Bras % 30% 39% 18% 8% 6%
Briefs US$bn 10 2.1 3.6 2.6 0.9 0.7
Briefs % 21% 36% 26% 9% 7%
Other US$bn 3.3 1 1.6 0.6 0.1 0.05
Other % 29% 49% 17% 3% 2%

Source: just-style


The estimates for units, explained in the full report, are:


• Bra market: 1,605m units of which Europe accounts for 405m, North America 295m, Asia 653, South America 150m and the Rest of the World 102m
• Briefs market: 5,275m units, of which Europe accounts for 1,140m, North America 740m, Asia 2,490m, South America 420 and the Rest of the World 485m

Growing and declining markets

Also contained in the full report is just-style's normal practice of giving a forecast for growth to 2023, and yearly time-lines. The growth percentages forecasts are less than exciting because of:


• Static and ageing populations in Europe
• Political uncertainties in many parts of the world
• Fierce retail price pressures in the developed world
• Consolidation of the sector into larger brands and own label retailers
• Continued downwards pressure on supply chain buying prices

Growth percentages between 2018 and 2023 for the major product categories are forecast to lie between only 3% and 7%.
In percentage terms for the entire lingerie market sector:


• South America and the Rest of the World will have the best percentage growth, but they are the smallest continental markets in US$bn value
• Asia will outperform both North America and Europe
• North America will achieve some growth
• Europe will be the "sick woman" of the lingerie world, but will still be comfortably the largest continent by lingerie market value

However, on the positive side, we do believe that brands will continue to compete better against cheap own label retailing in lingerie than in many other apparel product categories. Brand shares will hold up. Own label will grow everywhere as disorganised retail is replaced by organised retail across the world.

Conclusion

By using re:source data the just-style team have been able to combine market forecasts with sourcing data. It has to be remembered that the import data is at factory based imported prices, whilst the market forecasts are at retail prices. The database also contains a wealth of information about the import prices from different source countries, who is selling cheap, and who is selling expensive. Individual subscribers to re:source should use it to cross check and critique their:  


• Marketing decisions on branded wholesale prices or retail prices to the consumer;
• Supply chain and sourcing decisions on from where in the world to obtain their lingerie.
 

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