Get wild, for a price
Get wild, for a priceindia Updated: Jun 11, 2006 02:03 IST
When Bryan Adams screamed “I want to be your underwear”, he probably didn't know what he was getting in for. Was he prepared to be Pina Colada-flavoured, or be a stick-on pad of jelly, or have a size measurer on his person? Forget Paris and Milan — a look around at some of the haute shops of the Capital would be enough to make the 18-forever star reconsider his wish.
It’s a far cry from the days of the basic black, white and ‘skin’ coloured innerwear that Indians have been used to. Silk, satin and lace are today sharing shelf space with cotton. Changing the shopfront is a slew of international lingerie brands that have flooded the Indian market in recent times.
“I remember the time I was forced to rely on the grey market for a decent set of Marks and Spencer’s,” says Suman Nathwani. So she decided to do something about it. The result is La Lingerie, an exclusive shop with branches in M-Block Market, Greater Kailash and the Hauz Khas Village.
Several foreign brands are also more serious about the Indian market now. Lovable of the US, Triumph of Japan and Underlines of Germany first tried to import and sell their wares in India. Now, they are making them in the country. “Even so, the size would not be the same if the style was different,” Nathwani explains. But can’t Indian manufacturers rise to the occasion and put out their own designs? The trouble is, says Nathwani, it’s “a science that Indian manufacturers haven’t upgraded”.
Which is why, alongside Indian-made-foreign-innerwear, Delhi stores now offer original New York manufactured Vanity Fair (though its made-in-India version too is available), Thailand’s Wacoal, Guy Laroche from France, Calvin Klein from Italy, Cherilon disposable panties (quite convenient if one is travelling), Victoria’s Secret from San Francisco and more.
But such quality and choice come at a price. While the tag on the Calvin Klein bras and panties starts from Rs 1,000 and goes up to Rs 3,000, a set of Guy Laroche can set you back by anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000-plus. With great pricing comes great responsibility. “It isn’t just about offering sought-after international brands. It’s also about guiding the customers what is and isn’t the right choice,” says Smriti Gupta, director of Kunchals at GK-I M-Block market. The staff here has been given ‘fitness consultancy’ training to advise customers about such facts and myths.
However, offering the right choice has now become easier with brands like Guy Laroche, Wacoal, Marks and Spencer’s (England), Christian Dior (France), Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein and Pascale Madonna from France — all ranging between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,500 for a bra and Rs 275 to Rs 1,200 for the panties.
Choice is available not just in size and fit, but also in shape and style, with need-specific innerwear such as sports bras, seamless, strapless or padded balocenette bras, underwire and tubes.
Of the lot, French and English brands are the most sought after. “Nobody makes lingerie like the English and the French,” explains London-based Dalbir Bains, who has started Boudoir London in Juhu, Mumbai.
But is the steep price a problem? “Not here, in GK,” says Gupta. At their Rajouri outlet, some women do think twice when they hear the cost, but in the end, comfort and style wins, she says.
Comfort, style and fit also has city women making the special trip to Gurgaon malls where professional advice is offered for lingerie shopping. Some of the lingerie sections here have fitters who inspect the dress to be worn and guide the client to the right bra.
As compared, malls such as Ansal Plaza and Westside (Central Market) fall short. Though these offer innerwear with silk, satin and lace trimmings, the choice is limited to Enamour, Triumph, Lovable and Vanity Fair. For the designer stuff, the complexes in Mehrauli are the place.
While fit and style now go together, fit and fun might not. Which explains the garish bikinis that stare enticingly at customers in these very chic shops. For example, a couple of golden chains held together by two wispy black straps qualify as a bikini and conceal nothing. There are others, G-strings studded with red, yellow and green rosebuds. And yet others covered with red, blue and silver sequences and beads. Gupta prefers to call this wild range “non-branded imported stuff”, often bought as part of the trousseau. But the salesgirl at the counter tells it’s not just would-be brides who buy this stuff. “We even get middle-aged men, with plenty of questions about size, style and colour, buying these as a gift for their women,” she giggles.
The stuff might appear as if it’s been picked straight out of a Bangkok sex shop, but by no definition is it cheap. The flimsy, wispy G-string bikini set costs anything between Rs 900-plus and Rs 2,500.
Silicon on skin
The plunging necklines and backless dresses have created the need for another kind of innerwear: transparent and silicon stick-on bras minus the back strap. Costing between Rs 1,200 and Rs 3,000, and also available in brands such as Marks and Spencer, these can be used for up to three to four years, if handled with care. “We get repeat orders for these,” says the staff at Kunchals. Other stores second this. But Bani Singh, a housewife, finds it weird. “It’ll be some time before we get used to silicon against skin,” she says.
Maximisers to give a trim look for those with big bust (Rs 700 to Rs 2,750), maximisers, for those looking for volume (Rs 700 to Rs Rs 2,150) and thigh and hip tighteners (Rs 700 to Rs 1,800) are also in hot demand.