Underwear was primarily worn for utilitarian reasons, as it was an extra layer of fabric which helped insulate the wearer and promote hygiene. It was often seen as something indecent, and it wasn’t widely worn until the late nineteenth century. One hundred years later, underwear and lingerie would go on to become an established industry. Today, underwear and lingerie is not only used for function, but also for fashion and for personal expression. By 2025, the UK underwear market revenue is forecasted to reach over six billion U.S. dollars.

Market overview

Underwear today is segmented by product purpose. One such example is womens, girls’, mens and boys’ underwear products. In recent years, the sales value of underwear in all product categories decreased. In 2019, manufacturers sales of mens and boys’ underwear products totalled 442 thousand British pounds, down from approximately 3.17 million British pounds in 2012. Some mens underwear brands manufactured in the UK are Halcyon Blue, and British Boxers. Similarly, womens and girls’ underwear products had a sales value of 368 thousand British pounds in 2018, down from approximately 80.4 million British pounds in 2013. The leading womens underwear brands in the UK are M&S, Primark, and Asda.

Intimate apparel trade in the UK

Brexit, commencing early 2020, was forecasted to impact several industries and international trade within the UK. Even throughout all of this, imports and exports of underwear products in the United Kingdom stayed relatively constant. Mens and boys’ underwear imports to the UK totalled approximately 235 million British pounds, with inner EU trade consisting of nearly 40 percent of that figure. The womens underwear and lingerie market is different than mens as it contains other intimate items such as bras. As for of womens underwear and lingerie imports, bras represent the largest product category brought to the UK .

Consumer trends

Underwear and other intimate apparel such as bras are seen as a necessity in the day-to-day lives amongst British consumers. Women, who may need to wear more than one undergarment at once, typically consume more than their male counterparts. On average, women have a weekly expenditure of 1.2 British pounds , whereas men have 0.6 British pounds, and children even less. This disparity only increases with increasing gross income .


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