“Design in China”​ e02 – NEIWAI – A Chinese Underwear and Lingerie Brand Making a Mark

This series of articles named “Design in China” provides a snapshot of new DTC Chinese brands. I’ll review emerging brands in China and outside of China. But all these brands are designed and created from China.

What does going Direct-to-consumer (DTC) mean? Selling direct-to-consumer, commonly referred to as DTC or D2C, means you’re selling your products directly to your end customers. Sellers bypass any third-party retailers, wholesalers, or any other type of middlemen to deliver their products.

Recognizable examples of DTC brands include CasperWarby Parker, and Dollar Shave Club. However, there are now thousands of sellers undertaking this unique approach. These DTC brands are leveraging mobile and digital channels that are bypassing traditional sales models.

DTC brands are usually sold exclusively online or specialize in a specific product category. However, top growing brands are expanding to other channels like their own storefront or exclusive partnerships with other retailers.

Branding over Sales Performance

China consumption has evolved already. Many start-ups from mainland China experienced new way of purchasing clothes but also electronic accessories and food for years. They’ve already generated high volume of online sales and are now developing more sophisiticated and creative product and online ad campaign to elevate their brand. From a strong product positioning they are creating strong brand to retain existing users and attract new consumers. I’ll comment on the one I found interesting and worth sharing with followers here. #ChineseCulturalConfidence

These brands understand why brands are so important? #为什么要做品牌

“The most important thing really, is this notion that the consumer has changed, and really a lot of retailers are way, way, way behind the curve,” said Paula Rosenblum, co-founder of retail advisory firm RSR Research – source CrunchBase

NEIWAI, which translates to inside and out, is a Chinese premium lingerie and loungewear brand focusing primarily on women. It is gradually becoming the poster child of an emerging wave of Chinese retail brands that are prioritizing sustainability and innovation in their product development.

The brand’s most-hyped line is the Barely Zero Collection which champions adaptive, body-positive sizing, resolving the sizing issue women face too often when buying bras and underwear online. This collection is made of highly stretchy, sustainable fabrics that become like a second skin. The bras don’t even have an underwire but manage to provide the same support. But that’s not all; the luxury intimate wear brand is tapping into the ever-successful strategy of collaboration in fashion. In 2021, it launched a sustainable capsule collection with Wolford, the European underwear and lingerie manufacturer. The six-piece collection was sold not only in the brand’s home country but also in the US, which is proving to be its next big market.

Brands like NEIWAI are helping change the course of trade and retail, especially luxury retail, by bringing products designed and manufactured in China directly to global consumers. It is tapping into a sophisticated market dominated by well-established brands by offering something just as good. According to McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2020 report, 66 percent of respondents to a survey said they consider sustainability when buying luxury. Indeed, American and European consumers are growing increasingly wary of the impact of their purchases on the planet and opting for brands that heavily focus on sustainability. NEIWAI has set sustainability as a core value for its products and the brand as a whole. For instance, the brand claims it uses 40 percent fewer materials for packaging than most fashion brands. This stance is on par with some of the other sustainable underwear brands in the West, such as Kye Intimates, which uses recycled mailers for packaging.

The company has raised $100 million in series D funding, which it plans to use to develop its product line further and expand into other markets. Faye Wong has become the face of the brand, lending her international star status while also resonating with the Chinese roots of the company.

NEIWAI has had a slow but rewarding journey to this position and serves as a great example for other regional apparel and lingerie retailers who may want to expand beyond China and tap into other profitable markets. It presents the near-perfect formula comprising innovative products, inclusive marketing, and sustainable thinking that can pass through the barriers to entry when expanding West.

Next episode on Ubras

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