Into The World Of Innerwear

Into The World Of Innerwear

Shekhar Tewari of Modenik Lifestyle tells us about the essential of the essentials - underwear. And the world of difference that exists in catering to men’s and women’s needs.

Tsunami CostabirUpdated: Monday, July 01, 2024, 02:01 PM IST
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Modenik Lifestyle is one of India’s leading essential wear manufacturers. It is the parent to three major innerwear brands - Dixcy Scott, Enamor and a Levi’s license. Through their range, they provide essential clothing across gender and socio-economic segments. Shekhar Tewari, CEO at Modenik Lifestyle, gives us a lesson in building robust brands for each consumer strata.

Tell us about the various brands under your portfolio.

Dixcy Scott is largely a men's innerwear brand, but it also has a substantial women’s portfolio under the brand name Dixcy Slimz. Dixcy primarily caters to the mainstream economy. But our sub-brand, Dixcy Josh, caters to the lower end of the economic segment. Then we have Levi's, which is a licensed brand for men’s innerwear for the premium segment. Enamor is a mid-premium to premium women's brand primarily for lingerie but also has an element of casual wear and athleisure. 

What is stark about consumer behaviour within each segment?

At the lower end of the spectrum, we have consumers moving from unbranded to branded for the first time. They’re not looking for enhanced features or sustainability promises, but are influenced by brand imagery. At that level, distribution, availability and price become important.

Then, you get into the mainline economy, where consumers want very sharp price-to-value equations. It is this aspirational consumer that is very difficult to capture and please. They want premium features but are very price-sensitive. To provide well to this category, you need to have scale and be innovative. 

The premium customer looks for premium quality and is willing to pay premium prices. They value aesthetics and global trends. They want to understand your supply chain's social and environmental impact and look for natural and eco-friendly fabrics and production methods. 

How has the women’s innerwear category evolved in India?

The women’s underwear segment became branded much later than men’s. For one, 20 - 30 years ago, it was taboo to show a woman in lingerie. Women also used to stay at home and underwear was seen as an essential rather than a product that could improve your confidence or make you look good. 

As women’s plots have improved socio-economically and more of them have entered the workforce, they are now talking about what they want. That's how that category is evolving, but it is still largely unbranded in India. 

A lot goes into making a bra. They are structured products with seven to ten different components. There's a hook and eye, straps, underwires, lace and fabric. It's a three-dimensional garment. There’s precision required in putting all these elements together and getting a good product.

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Can you tell us about the e-commerce and retail split?

In the case of Dixcy, we are primarily a multi-brand outlet. Multi-brand outlets tend to be the most efficient at that price point. It's important to make yourself available in a space that consumers frequent and are most comfortable buying. Only about two to five per cent of Dixcy sales happen online.

For Enamor, the category requires you to have a large number of stock-keeping units (SKUs). Most mom-and-pop stores in the country are small and they aren’t a conducive environment for women to buy lingerie. You cannot have the type of merchandising space that you need to display all your products in a multi-brand outlet. 

Enamor is present in higher-end mom-and-pop stores, department stores, and exclusive stores. Over 25% of sales happen online, and the number is growing fast. 

Is there a focus on inclusivity in your brands and marketing strategies?

We do a lot of work in DE&I for Enamor. If you look at the tagline of Enamor, it says, ‘Fabulous as I am’. That's a very strong statement. In our campaigns, we’ve used older models, plus-sized women and models without airbrushing. We largely have women employees in Enamor, and we're very proud of that. More than 80% of Enamor employees are women. In terms of products, we have a wide range of sizes and also cater to younger girls who are just beginning to experiment with this category. We have also launched period panties.

What is your vision for the future and expansion?

We are lucky to be in an essential category. The first thing that you put on in the morning and the last that you take off is probably your underwear. Even during Covid-19, when many categories and their consumption avenues went flat, we didn’t suffer as much. We want to continue on that journey of viewing things through the customer’s lens and being true to their needs.

What are your life’s key learnings?

One of my key learnings has been that input defines output. You have to put in the work to see the results. And when you like your work, you don't have to worry about work-life balance. On the business side of things, I would tell people to put opportunities and learnings over money. Money always follows.

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Then, you get into the mainline economy, where consumers want very sharp price-to-value equations. It is this aspirational consumer that is very difficult to capture and please. They want premium features but are very price-sensitive. To provide well to this category, you need to have scale and be innovative. 

The premium customer looks for premium quality and is willing to pay premium prices. They value aesthetics and global trends. They want to understand your supply chain's social and environmental impact and look for natural and eco-friendly fabrics and production methods. 

How has the women’s innerwear category evolved in India?

The women’s underwear segment became branded much later than men’s. For one, 20 - 30 years ago, it was taboo to show a woman in lingerie. Women also used to stay at home and underwear was seen as an essential rather than a product that could improve your confidence or make you look good. 

As women’s plots have improved socio-economically and more of them have entered the workforce, they are now talking about what they want. That's how that category is evolving, but it is still largely unbranded in India. 

A lot goes into making a bra. They are structured products with seven to ten different components. There's a hook and eye, straps, underwires, lace and fabric. It's a three-dimensional garment. There’s precision required in putting all these elements together and getting a good product.

Can you tell us about the e-commerce and retail split?

In the case of Dixcy, we are primarily a multi-brand outlet. Multi-brand outlets tend to be the most efficient at that price point. It's important to make yourself available in a space that consumers frequent and are most comfortable buying. Only about two to five per cent of Dixcy sales happen online.

For Enamor, the category requires you to have a large number of stock-keeping units (SKUs). Most mom-and-pop stores in the country are small and they aren’t a conducive environment for women to buy lingerie. You cannot have the type of merchandising space that you need to display all your products in a multi-brand outlet. 

Enamor is present in higher-end mom-and-pop stores, department stores, and exclusive stores. Over 25% of sales happen online, and the number is growing fast. 

Is there a focus on inclusivity in your brands and marketing strategies?

We do a lot of work in DE&I for Enamor. If you look at the tagline of Enamor, it says, ‘Fabulous as I am’. That's a very strong statement. In our campaigns, we’ve used older models, plus-sized women and models without airbrushing. We largely have women employees in Enamor, and we're very proud of that. More than 80% of Enamor employees are women. In terms of products, we have a wide range of sizes and also cater to younger girls who are just beginning to experiment with this category. We have also launched period panties.

What is your vision for the future and expansion?

We are lucky to be in an essential category. The first thing that you put on in the morning and the last that you take off is probably your underwear. Even during Covid-19, when many categories and their consumption avenues went flat, we didn’t suffer as much. We want to continue on that journey of viewing things through the customer’s lens and being true to their needs.

What are your life’s key learnings?

One of my key learnings has been that input defines output. You have to put in the work to see the results. And when you like your work, you don't have to worry about work-life balance. On the business side of things, I would tell people to put opportunities and learnings over money. Money always follows.

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