SHANGHAI — China’s market for innerwear, nightwear and swimwear is highly fragmented, but there are a few domestic players worth keeping an eye on. Aimer, Embry and Maniform commanded the biggest slices of China’s market for underwear, nightwear and swimwear in 2012, according to Euromonitor. Aimer enjoyed a market share of 1.9 percent in 2012, while Embry and Maniform accounted for 1.1 percent and 1 percent of the market, respectively.
This story first appeared in the January 27, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Aimer, owned by the Beijing-based Aimer Group, is a leading lingerie brand in China that also has an international presence, with retail locations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Macau. The company also has an e-commerce site for international orders and is vying to compete as one of the leading innerwear companies globally by combining Eastern design aesthetics with international trends.
The Aimer brand positions itself similarly to Maniform: targeting older, more affluent women with high-quality, sophisticated designs. Similar to Victoria’s Secret, the brand also has swimwear, women’s apparel, accessories and sleepwear.
The company has more than 2,000 points of sale across China. In addition to men’s and children’s lines under the Aimer brand, Aimer owns five other labels, including Modelab, a shapewear line, and La Clover luxury lingerie.
Aimer is famous for its glitzy marketing. The company has hosted an underwear models competition, organized beauty tours of France and produced special collections for celebrities, including Chinese actress Gong Li, who became internationally recognized after her 2005 role in “Memoirs of a Geisha.” The actress is also Aimer’s brand ambassador.
In 1994, Aimer held China’s first lingerie contest, called the Aimer Cup. The company is also the main sponsor of “China’s Next Top Model.”
RELATED STORY: China’s Intimate Opportunity >>
Established in 1975 in Hong Kong, the Embry Group is known as one of the first companies to bring Western-style lingerie specially designed for Asian women to China. The Group has more than 2,200 retail outlets on the mainland and in Hong Kong and Macau. Its flagship brand, Embry Form, is a leading lingerie brand on the mainland. For 17 consecutive years, Embry Form has been named the best-selling lingerie brand in terms of volume, sales and market share by the China Industrial Information Issuing Center, a department within the nation’s statistics bureau that monitors sales of Chinese brands.
Since entering the Chinese market in the Nineties, the company has expanded its product range with an array of brands for swimwear, sleepwear, nightwear and maternity styles. For seven straight years, the company’s Fandecie brand, similar to Victoria’s Secret’s youth-oriented Pink line, has been named one of the top 10 bestsellers for lingerie in China by the CIIIC.
In 2012, Embry launched its sixth brand, Iadore, which is targeted at increasingly wealthy consumers in second- and third-tier cities. Amid slowing economic growth in China, Embry has focused on strengthening its multibrand strategy, offering a diversified range of products with varying price points to meet the demand of shoppers who are more cautious about what they buy.
The company’s revenues for the first half of 2013 grew by 10.8 percent compared with the same period in 2012, to $146.4 million. In 2006, the company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Maniform is the flagship brand of the privately held Shenzhen-based Huijie Group. The brand was launched in Beijing in 1996 and is positioned as high-end lingerie for mature women seeking individuality and self-expression. Its slogan is “Lingerie for Powerful Women.”
It has also branched into sleepwear, maternity, shapewear and women’s apparel.
Maniform was number one in sales in the lingerie category from 2002 to 2012, according to Huijie, which has more than 2,000 points of sale across China. Besides Maniform, Huijie owns five other brands, including J.Baschi, a men’s innerwear line, and Langerie, which targets young women and is positioned as sexy and free. Huijie employs international designers from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan and has had design collaborations with Caline International, a French lingerie company.