For years, Southeast Asian women seeking designer lingerie had only a handful of Western labels to which they could turn. Now, a Malaysian company, Xixili Intimates, is getting in on the action. The nine-year-old brand has been flourishing in its home country and is now expanding elsewhere in the region.
This story first appeared in the July 29, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The whole thing was put together by a group of women who realized that 80 percent of women worldwide put on the wrong size bra,” said Tara Tan, the brand’s marketing director. “There are pretty severe side effects from that.”
To combat these effects, Xixili trains all its staff consultants to fit customers and teach them how to correctly put on lingerie, a service that’s rare in relatively conservative Southeast Asia.
“We have to train our girls to deal with all sorts of personalities, including those who refuse to let them into the fitting room,” said Tan. Sometimes that doesn’t work, so Xixili occasionally shuts down its boutiques to host fitting workshops for up to 40 women at a time.
The focus on customization extends to the extensive product range on offer.
“We’ve just launched an I-cup, size and because we have our own design team and production facilities in Malaysia, we can [provide custom sizing] for those not able to find the right size or those who want to mix and match prints,” Tan said.
Prices for its pastel-colored bras and leopard print lace slips start at 69.90 Malaysian ringgit, or $21.75 at current exchange, though customized pieces can cost many multiples of that.
Customers have apparently taken to the nine-year-old company. Revenue last year was about 40 million ringgit, or $12.5 million, and Xixili, which has 47 points of sale in Malaysia, has since expanded into neighboring Singapore.
“We’re doing really well in Malaysia, and since we’re already all over the [country], we’re now trying to explore overseas,” Tan said. Xixili has plans to enter Vietnam and Indonesia in the coming year, as well as to grow its budding e-commerce operations.
One challenge the company will face in retailing underwear online is ensuring that customers new to the label also get a quality fit.
“We’re doing it very slowly and exploring fitting technology to see if there’s a means by which we can set up criteria for fitting online,” said Tan. “But even in e-commerce, we’re seeing strong growth figures. In a way, we’re in a recession-free business because ladies always need lingerie.”