Latvians know the country’s third-largest city as the “city where the wind is born.” Why? Located on the coast of the Baltic Sea, Liepāja feels the near-constant presence of the breeze. However, it is also the “Latvian capital of lingerie”! The city of just under 70 thousand inhabitants is home to around 50 lingerie manufacturers. While some of their bras, pants, and nighties enter the local market, most find owners in faraway places around the world. Let’s take a step back in time to understand how the industry developed and flourished in Liepāja.
The founding of a legendary factory
The story dates back to the founding of the Lauma textile factory in the 1970s. At the time, Latvia was under Soviet rule, and any manufacturing was strictly governed. The Lauma brand gained love and recognition across the union. After Latvia regained its independence in 1991, the economy underwent significant change, and private businesses emerged. Gradually, other lingerie companies appeared on the market, many of which were founded by and employed graduates of the “Lauma school.” They found willing clients in fellow former union countries and further afield.
The Lauma factory lives to this day, now operating as the Liepāja Special Economic Zone company Lauma Fabrics and producing different components of women’s lingerie, such as lace, embroidery, and straps. Most lingerie manufacturers in Latvia source materials from the company.
Maija Škarubo is the Deputy Director of Sales and Marketing at Lauma Fabrics. She describes what makes the local industry stand out globally: “Latvian-made lingerie is renowned in many countries worldwide. The many years of experience are one of our manufacturers’ biggest advantages. The companies are constantly developing, both in terms of the technology they use and the goods they produce.” Asked what global business partners and buyers appreciate about Latvian lingerie, Škarubo explains that it’s their “historical experience, ability to cater to client’s needs, the diversity of collections and the use of the latest technology.”
Liepāja’s industry of significance
Latvian lingerie travels to Scandinavia, Central Europe, and elsewhere. Undeniably, Russia used to be a big market for Latvia’s lingerie manufacturers; however, nowadays, considering the ongoing economic sanctions towards the country, the manufacturers have found alternatives, proving the industry’s resilience.
According to Business.gov.lv, underwear production is one of the key sectors of the Latvian textile industry. The Investment and Development Agency has organized several Lingerie Industry Forums to connect international investors, buyers, and media with local suppliers to foster collaboration and strengthen export ties, illustrating its importance to the national economy.
Brands operating in the field in Liepāja include Esotiq, Novella, Orhideja, V.O.V.A., Stefi L, Magija Lingerie, Lauma Lingerie, and many more. Several smaller players cater to niches, like My First Lingerie, which makes underwear for girls from five to 13 years of age.
Finding strength in tourism
Besides playing a big part in the global underwear industry, Liepāja is also a fast-developing tourism destination with an established, ambitious, and daring cultural scene. It is the designated European Capital of Culture 2027, promising a program of interdisciplinary events touching on topics like civic engagement, green innovation, and the intelligent use of technology.
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