Victoria's Secret bras a boost for rural Indian women

Tue May 22, 2012 9:53am EDT
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By Nita Bhalla

CHENNAI, India, May 22 (TrustLaw) - Indian villager Jaya places the bright pink, sequined, molded C-cupped designer bra under the needle of her sewing machine and carefully stitches the seams together.

The padded "Very Sexy" push-up bra which 22-year-old Jaya sews is for American lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret - designed to give a "boost" to buyers in hundreds of high-fashion boutiques across the United States.

But a world away in this traditional rice-growing region of southern India, these luxurious bras are - in a different way - enhancing the lives of poor rural women.

"I knew nothing but the village before," says Jaya, sitting behind her sewing machine on the busy factory floor of textile manufacturer, Intimate Fashions, in India's Tamil Nadu state.

"My parents just wanted me married as quickly as possible. They never saw me as an asset, just a burden. They did not think a woman could earn money, but look at me," she says, the scent of jasmine emanating from the bunch of white flowers in her plaited hair.

For conservative India's rural women - lucky to finish school, married before 18 and confined to their villages - a project giving them jobs in the manufacturing sector is not just an end to poverty, but brings empowerment and respect in this deeply patriarchal society.


Located 30 km (18 miles) south of Chennai, Intimate Fashions - which also produces bras for Victoria's Secret brand "Pink" and the La Senza brand - is one of thousands of firms that have set up in Tamil Nadu's Kanchipuram district in recent years.   Continued...

Workers produce bras for export at the Intimate Fashions factory in Kanchipuram district, 30 km (18 miles) south of India's southern city of Chennai, May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Babu