Lingerie While Away: Shopping in Hong Kong And Thailand
Posted on 27 September 2017
(Pink Pom Pom Bra by Peach John)
If there's one thing I love more than shopping, it's shopping abroad. And the funny thing is, when it came to lingerie, I used to only focus on the big players: Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Barcelona, London.... not giving much thought to the other cities I've traveled to. For whatever reason I didn't think I'd find much in the way of lingerie - or at least in my style of lingerie. Well let me tell you: I stand corrected! Earlier this month on vacation in Hong Kong and Thailand I took the time to see what their lingerie shopping had to offer and was I pleasantly surprised. Once I started shopping I couldn't be stopped and dragged my poor boyfriend to each boutique, mall and market I could find (love you, babe!) all to indulge in my shameless lingerie obsession.
It turns out the cities I visited not only carried a wide range of lingerie from cheap factory basics to expensive luxury brands, but they also offered a wonderful mix of East meets West. Euro favorites like Etam and Intimissimi sat next to Asian big hitters like Peach John and Triumph. Not only did I find labels I thought had gone out of business but I learned about new designers and stores that are unique to each country.
My shopping extravaganza included kawaii undies, frou frou bras, sexy babydolls and quirky matching sets that you can't find anywhere in the States. While I hit a record number of stores, I didn't end up actually buying much because of the disparity of sizing out East. Sadly, my 34B boobs and size 6 bum were too big for most of the lingerie offered (the largest bra size I found was a 36C and the undies ran about 2 sizes smaller than I'm used to). But just because they make them extra small over there didn't stop me from snapping all the pics I could! After a whirlwind shopping tour I was left with a couple of undies that actually fit and an arsenal of Instagram photos to last a lifetime.
Curious to see some of what was offered in the world of Asian lingerie? Now that I've finally had a chance to recover from the jet lag, here are some of my most prominent observations!
Kawaii is everywhere
I love everything kawaii (it's only natural since I'm really an 8 year old girl trapped in a 30-something's body)! And there was no shortage of it in my travels. I found some of the cutest prints and squealed with delight on multiple occasions. Some prints and styes were super cute and some even crossed the line into baby territory. But you won't find me complaining! These cute characters were a breath of fresh air.
(Left to right: 6ixty 8ight; 6ixty 8ight; Peach John; Sabina)
(Left to right: Sabina; 6ixty 8ight; 6ixty 8ight)
Push up padding is prominent
Not only did I feel like a giant trying to find bras to fit my massive 34B breasts, but so many of the bras I saw were also extremely padded, heaving my bosoms up towards the sky. Normally as a smaller cupped woman (here in the States anyway) I appreciate a little padding but these went above and beyond! Many had small pillows sewn inside the cups while others had pouches with removable padding. There were also a lot of ruched and gathered fabric on the outside of the cups which added even more bulk - a stark contrast to the smooth molded cups we favor in the West.
(Left to right: Peach John; Department store brand)
There are some hard to find names we don't have back home
First off, how excited was I to find a Peach John store in Hong Kong?? One of the most well known lingerie brands in Japan, I've been a fan of their designs for decades and even had a meeting with them once at their corporate Tokyo office (sadly our deal didn't work out but they were the nicest industry colleagues I've ever met and sent me home with a killer swag bag). I spent a good 30 minutes in the fitting rooms here prancing around like a fairytale princess in their flirty, girly sets and pajamas because how could I not?
6ixty 8ight is another store that I used to shop in Europe and actually thought they had gone out of business. Wrong! This Chinese company is alive and well in Hong Kong and I may have spent a pretty penny on their girly lingerie and clothing while I was there. Can you blame me though?
Another brand that took me by surprise was Playboy. Who knew that they still had multiple thriving retail locations in Northern Thailand? Of course I had to pay a few visits and was thoroughly delighted to find the iconic bunny logo not only on the lingerie embroideries and hardware but also on their sportswear clothing and accessories. In fact this brand was so popular up there I even found it in department stores and some street markets.
Sadly, I wasn't able to make it to any of the Une Nana Cool stores in Hong Kong because vacationing got in my way. But just knowing this Japanese brand also had outposts here warmed my heart. Until my next visit I guess!
Graphics show up on bra cups
As a lingerie designer I can safely say that graphic designs on bras do not sell for adult women here in the United States. I'm not sure if it's because it looks too childish, only really used on little girls undershirts and training bras, or because it would awkwardly show through light colored clothing. Either way it's not something I've designed much of in my career. But in Asia the mindset is different and I found tons of graphics printed on or across bra cups. Not really sure how I feel about this look yet though....
(Left to right: Sabina; Sabina; Bla Bla Bra)
(Both from Department store brands)
Men get in on the fun too
Not only was I inspired by all the cute ladies lingerie but I also really dug some of the guys styles too. Specifically the crazy prints I saw that would probably do well even in the States. Personally, I'd rock a few of these prints on a quirky dress or skirt too but hey, that's just me....
(Left to right: Goods Of Desire; Goods Of Desire; Department store brand)
You can find lingerie ANYWHERE
Much like in our neck of the woods there are options for lingerie shopping in a variety of price ranges. On the cheap end you can find plenty of low priced styles at the street markets, offering everything from sports bras to sexy babydolls. Bins full of lacy bras and stacks of synthetic undies can be browsed with prices as low as $5 USD and even lower if you know how to bargain. Just don't expect much from the quality or expect to try them on first.
(Lingerie bins at one of the markets)
And even the convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Watsons and Boots sell easy, disposable undies on the cheap. These were in a pharmacy up North and I thought the name Nakie was just the cutest!
(Convenience store undies)
I also visited a unique department store in Bangkok called the Nightingale Olympic which is basically frozen in the 1960's. This 2 story mecca only sells vintage products from the 60's and all the mannequins and decor are frozen in that era as well. From cosmetics to record players, tennis racquets to guitars - this place had it all. Including an intimidating lingerie counter complete with vintage girdles and bullet bras available for actual purchase! Photos weren't allowed in the store (shhhh...) and the was staff not amused by my friendliest of smiles, but I was able to browse some old bloomers and silk nightgowns before finally retreating to an air conditioned taxi.
(From the Nightingale Olympic department store)
Some additional observations....
After working in this industry so many years I really appreciated some of the signage meant to help customers find their bra size or call out what the products were. Especially when they have cute characters on them or the verbiage was translated into English.
(Left to right: Peach John; Department store; Miss Secrets)
I also appreciate designs whose aesthetic is different than what we're used to seeing day in and day out. Even if it's not always my style, there's always a customer for that!
(All 3 from Bla Bla Bra)
(Left to right: Wacoal; Ann Bra)
With all this cuteness you may think there weren't many options for the more sophisticated customer but that's not the case! I also saw a lot of pretty laces and sexy styles for shoppers with a more mature sense of style too.
(Left to right: Etam; Department store brand; Ann Bra)
But mostly things were just cute. Cute colors, cute prints, cute trims, cute shapes.... so much freaking cuteness!
(Left to right: Peach John; Bla Bla Bra; Peach John; Department store brand)
(Left to right: Bla Bla Bra; pillows at Bla Bla Bra; Peach John; Mall display window)
Are you familiar with Asian lingerie? Did I miss out on any must-see brands?