Why did innovation die in the Indian underwear industry?
Let’s go back to the year 2000, you’re watching your favourite show on your not so flat television. Just hoping that your cliffhanger comes soon after ‘this short commercial break’. But after the classic big brand soft drinks, biscuits and chips ads, following the ad of the comeback of some Bollywood star. After that though you go through a few moments of cringe.
The ad begins with this helpless woman walking late at night in an empty street, while suddenly a bunch of goons have attacked her. BAM! Out of nowhere you look at this half naked man, showing his manlyness wearing a branded vest or a tacky underwear, coming to the rescue.
Obviously, this man is a movie star with superman like abilities and he automatically becomes a role model in the eyes of the audience.
Between 2000-2008 was the years when the international brands entered the market, the likes of the low waist jeans trend had begun. This was the first time ever since the Mughals discovered the under-wear, we could see a visible change as to how the underwear looked. It wasnt just a transition from dhotis to boxers, but it felt like a quantum leap jump. This time the focus shifted from the quality to finally the design.
What are these names?
When hearing a brand name, there’s a sense of respect, community and emotions one goes through. But what happened in the early 00s? VIP, Amul Macho, Rupa, Lux, Dixcy, among others were the top brands for innerwear in India. These names were sexist, cheap and one brand still makes butter in the same name! It felt like innerwear was a vertical or a run of the mill business, but never made a priority.
“Yeh to bada toingg hai” – Amul Macho
The attachment of an Indian male and his tightty whitty goes way back in history. But have you ever asked yourself or your significant other as to how you look just wearing that piece of cloth? When we look at fashion, it should make us reflect our personalities or make us feel confident about ourselves. The plain white underwear is not the way you express yourselves, it does provide the luxury for a toddler as well as a senior citizen go unnoticed. But, that doesn’t mean that you let your youth slip away.
Stripes and checks
It’s not the tightty whitties who need to change, but all the stripes and checks men. How are we against plaid shirts, but when it comes to our boxers, we’re ready to compromise? While paying your respects to your lady, I’m not sure she’d be a fan of this neglected piece of clothing.
But that’s what Jockey does, over the years, they’ve served their clients with boring, emotionless, run of the mill prints because you got used to it. Yes, you the client accepted it and did not ask them to innovate. You could have asked for anything, boxers with prints of pancakes, cards or even just clocks but you chose to settle. If you pick up a boxer from Jockey, from 2010 and 2020, I can bet you, there’ll be no change in design, but just a manufacturing date change.
While growing up, did you always feel like you wore your underwear a size smaller than you actually needed? That’s what happened when you wore the Frenchie. These under-wears were so tightly packed that your thighs did not have the space to move. Every little movement had a strain on your delicate parts and the discomfort was relaxed by constant ‘adjusting’. This is where we still are today, the brands have become conscious about changing their fabric, but the problems in fit and structure do exist till date.
At this moment, there are more than 1000 underwear brands in the apparel industry of India. Over 200 of them sell on a nationwide level and out of which over 70 of these brands are on the online market. Innovation needs to begin from us and needs to go down to the regional level, so every Indian man or woman can proudly wear and show off their underwear, just like their personality.