Sexy lingerie has become the identity of the modern Indian woman. In fact there’s a whole lot you can tell about a women from the kind of inners she wears. But when did our conservative society become infatuated to sensuous intimate wear? Let’s take a look at lingerie’s history in India.
The word lingerie has been borrowed from the French language and comes from the term linge which means linen. In French, lingerie means undergarments both of male and female but in spoken English especially in the Indian context lingerie is supposed to mean sexy, visually appealing inner wear or even erotic clothing.
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So how did lacy underthings become a part of the overly conservative Indian society? Let’s blame it on globalization that made it easier to get our hands on raunchy inner wear in various designs before Indian manufacturers took notice of the increasing trend. Remember street side vendors putting up padded bras on their stalls and women in saris, skirts and even burkhas lining up to get their buys. But how did we move from bra and panties to classy intimate wear and lingerie?

The Advent Of Inner Wear

The history of intimate wear is traced back from the painful and boyish clothing to the more stylish, practical and feminine designs that gave more comfort. The first traces of women wearing any form of underclothing was found in Egypt in 3000 BC as many terracotta figures have been found wearing undergarments or cross-bands which were the initial intimate wear.
The more conservative form of lingerie became relevant 2000 years ago when in medieval Europe the entry of chemises and corsets changed the way women perceived innerwear. Women began to use intimate wear to give definition to curves for a more flattering figure. Soon multiple sizes were made for comfort purposes.
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Then in the 20th century came the alternative to the corset – the bodices that provided the much needed support. Mary Phelps is credited to develop the first kind of bras and patented her lingerie design which consisted of just two silk handkerchiefs tied together with ribbon straps. Thus the brassiere went through a number of changes in design and make over the years.
Fabrics like nylon, lace, lycra, polyester and cotton gave way to more fashionable, breathable and stylish inners giving way to innovative lingerie around the word.

Lingerie In India

Innerwear for the Indians came into existence during the Muslim era when their conservative belief forced both genders to adopt underclothing. This is when kacchas or kaupinas came into existence. Around the 1600s the kaccha also became one of the five K’s of the Khalsa Sikhs becoming religiously significant too.
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For women’s lingerie, half-sleeved tight bodices also known as Kanchuka have been part of the Indian culture. Garments like chemise and smock have also been part of the Indian lifestyle. But the scene changed once people began to buy their lingerie from shops instead of stitching themselves.

Cut to the first movement in inner wear industry that happened when associated apparels introduced brassieres. The 80s and 90s had the company focus on undergarments with two brands emerging as major players in the market. The 90s also saw globalization that had the Indian markets flooded with foreign produce part of which was also, china-made fancy lingerie that grabbed eyeballs.
Like all other things Bollywood has been instrumental in making the modern day lingerie popular. Television and advertising too has helped educated people about intimate wear that can be sensuous and comforting too.
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Taking inspiration from American brands like Victoria’s Secrets Indian manufacturers also began to design sexy lingerie. Today, the Indian innerwear market has expanded and companies like Triumph, Amante, Infinity and Wunderlove have been fight for market shares.

Like this article? Also read: Comfortable Lingerie And Sleepwear You’ll Never Want To Get Out Of

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