Underwear Sales Pick up Amid Early Chill
The underwear sales are picking up after years of sluggish business. The Korea Federation of Textile Industries expects underwear sales to rise 11.5 percent on-year to W1.38 trillion this year, in stark contrast to other sectors of the clothing market.
Sales of men's garments are forecast to decrease 8.6 percent and of women's clothes 5.5 percent.
For several years, large retailers saw a contraction in underwear sales of 4-6 percent. Until the first half of this year, the industry expected them to drop around 2 percent this year. But the early arrival of winter has drastically increased demand for long thermal underwear, which is helping turn the business around.
An industry insider said that when the mercury suddenly plummeted in the third week of October, sales of thermal underwear soared 22 percent from the previous week.
The industry partly attributes the rise to the recession as many people buy warm underwear to save heating costs amid soaring oil prices. Garment companies' own efforts also have paid off. They have increasingly tried to develop new designs of thermal underwear to lure young consumers who used to consider it terminally unstylish.
Cheap-and-cheerful Japanese brand Uniqlo spearheaded the trend by selling 300 million pieces of Heattech undershirts around the world. Since the success of functional winter clothes jointly developed with textiles company Toray, Korean firms have been following suit, diversifying their product lines and improving designs to appeal to young consumers.