By and  on November 20, 2017
A Chinese woman walks past a Victoria's Secret store under construction in Wangfujing, Beijing.

SHANGHAI — Every year with its "What Is Sexy" list, underwear maker Victoria's Secret has tallied up the celebrities, artists and influencers it finds most alluring. In 2017, actresses Priyanka Chopra, Margot Robbie and songstress Bebe Rexha were among those featured and deemed "bold, powerful, confident" by the brand.This year, though, that question takes on extra weight as it heads to China for the first time to tape its fashion show on Monday, part and parcel of its strategy to open the Chinese market after rolling out its first full-apparel stores there in February.To be sure, it's not the only large international purveyor of underwear with China on its mind. Calzedonia Group is making inroads in the country, too, setting up its first China stores for its underwear brand Intimissimi in April. It now counts two stores in Shanghai. In October, the high-end Italian lingerie label La Perla devoted special attention to the Chinese customer, debuting its spring collection in Macau.Looking at the data, it's not hard to see why so much attention is shifting to the Chinese market. Data from consulting firm Oliver Wyman showed that the global lingerie market is valued at $35 billion, but growth in the sector is hard-won, forecasted to grow only 4 percent over the next four years.Historically underpenetrated and only representing 20 percent of the pie now, Asia makes for the next logical frontier. Oliver Wyman expects the region to increase its share by 8 percent a year, but the reality of unlocking that potential is a little bit more complicated, said Oliver Wyman partner Jeremy Sporn.MORE: China Fashion Insiders Explain Victoria's Secret Chaos >> 

"Intimate apparel is very localized. The fit is localized, colors, technical patterns. There are very, very few global intimate apparel companies," he said.

"At least in the U.S., Victoria's Secret and intimate apparel particularly for younger consumers are synonymous. I think as they expand internationally, they are going to face a slightly different story. American perceptions of sexy and international perceptions of sexy will be different," Sporn said.

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