For most women, buying lingerie is an important affair. You not only look at the design but also support and quality. Well, and purpose, of course.

Three Singaporean women understood this when they launched their e-commerce sites that sell intimate wear.

Miss Sheryl Lim left her marketing job and started lingerie e-commerce site Susy + Bae in 2017 and she has no regrets. Susy and Bae sell handmade lace lingerie, and business has been better than expected.

Scroll the gallery to see some of Susy and Bae’s bralettes.

Miss Lim advertises online sparingly and about half of her sales come from the stalls she sets up at flea markets and pop-ups. She sells nearly 300 pieces a month, with many purchased by repeat customers.

“I thought selling lingerie would be a unique idea. People are also now more aware of different styles of lingerie, not just the usual push-up and wired bras,” said the 29-year-old.

Intimate wear is now making its mark on the local online fashion industry. One of the pioneers is Perk By Kate, which was launched in 2012. The brand, best known for its own line of padded bralettes, saw an increase in sales in and hit a six-figure amount in 2016, said founder Kate Low.

The online site initially featured international lingerie brands such as Eberjey and For Love & Lemons before it launched its own label in 2014. “When we started almost eight years ago, purchasing lingerie online was pretty radical but these days, consumers take to online purchases quite readily,” said the 32-year-old.

Scroll the gallery to see some of Perk by Kate’s bralettes.

As of statistics found in 2017 by Market research company Euromonitor, the value of the underwear market in Singapore has risen from $245.5 million in 2011 to $287.2 million in 2017–a 17 per cent increase.

Ms Elfaine Tan decided to concentrate on intimate wear when she ventured into the e-commerce scene with the launch of I’m In in 2016. Ms Tan was one of the co-founders EK Media, a social media agency that was sold to SingPost in 2013.

Business at I’m In has been brisk, with a 10 to 20 per cent increase in sales month-on-month. But the 29-year-old said: “When it comes to fashion, several brands dominate the scene so it is harder to shine. “And when it comes to underwear, many customers want to have a feel of the product before buying it.”

I’m In sells a wide range of underwear, including bras, bralettes and panties.

Scroll the gallery to see some of I’m In’s bralettes.

Singapore Polytechnic marketing and retail lecturer Lucas Tok said that while lingerie might be a difficult product to sell online, an e-commerce store has its advantages, such as privacy.

He explained: “Consumers may sometimes feel insecure while browsing (for lingerie) in a brick and mortar store (but) an e-commerce setting allows consumers to browse freely without the perceived judgment they receive from onlookers and bystanders–sometimes even from shop assistants.”

Some brands also focus on customer service to draw and retain customers. Before Perk By Kate had its own studio, Ms Low allowed customers to try the lingerie at her home. She also “refurbishes” old bralettes at no extra cost.

Text: Linette Heng / The New Paper / December 2017
Image: Perk By Kate & I’m In

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