Surge in 'lounge wear', underwear sales as more SA women work from home - retailer data

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SA women want more inclusivity when it comes to the colour and sizes of underwear.
SA women want more inclusivity when it comes to the colour and sizes of underwear.
  • e-Retailer RunwaySale has released its sales data in a bid to better understand the SA underwear market - underwear being a top seller, with a surge in sales during lockdown.
  • Its data shows that SA women, on the whole, opt for simple, practical underwear (though red and white lace bras were also a winner). 
  • The most popular size for panties sold is "large", and the most popular bra size is a 34C.


South African women's choices of underwear is as different as their counterparts in the next province or city, data released by e-commerce retailer RunwaySale shows.

Underwear is often one of their top-selling items.

The e-retailer's sales data shows that South African women on the whole prefer opting for simpler, more practical underwear garments that will make them feel comfortable in everyday life. The top three winning choices are navy and black high-waisted briefs, white and navy basic support bras, and red and white classic lace bras, according to the data.

While women in KwaZulu-Natal are, in general, more likely to opt for a wine-red classic lace bra paired with black bikini briefs, women in Durban itself prefer sticking to trusty, classic underwear pieces.

Women in Cape Town, on the other hand, prefer coral and black bikini briefs, as well as white high-waisted briefs.

Moving up north, the ladies in Gauteng prefer cost-effective purchases such as multipacks - these are particularly popular with the women based in Midrand. 

Seamless suburbs 

The online shopping data provides evidence that women in suburbia have distinct preferences in their choice of underwear. While Sandton's best seller is the black lace bra, women in Cape Town's Northern suburb of Bellville prefer dependable seamless shapewear in nude shades.

In Modderfontein women are selecting more bikini briefs, while Douglasdale ladies opt for playful pink floral high-waisted briefs. 

The most popular size for panties sold is "large", and the most popular bra size is a 34C.

"Over the last few months, we have noticed a significant increase in the sale of underwear on our site. The 32% year-on-year increase could be attributed to the recent surge in 'lounge wear' or the popularised 'work from home' fashion trend," says Rob Noble, COO at RunwaySale. 

"It might seem strange to deep dive into data about underwear, but this is a hugely successful section of the market and we're seeing significant changes in what people are shopping for when it comes to undergarments."
- Rob Noble

This includes wanting more inclusivity when it comes to the colour and sizes of underwear. 

"A 'nude' coloured bra, for example, means so many different colours given the skin shade diversity in the country. This is proving that adaptability and agility is key when making purchasing decisions from the buyer's side," says Noble.

As businesses throughout the country were shuttered under hard lockdown, with restrictions gradually being lifted, retailers were among those businesses who were allowed to remain open, with limitations applied to the items for sale.  

From 1 May, the sale of winter clothing, bedding and certain basics was allowed to resume, though the regulations around clothing sales drew widespread criticism. 

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