Bras push up Sri Lanka’s lingerie hopes

BIYAGAMA, Feb 25, 2007 (AFP) – For some engineers in this Sri Lankan industrial town, making women happy is their main job — they design sexy bras which are comfortable too. Ranil Vitarana is one of hundreds of Sri Lankans developing exotic undergarments for top international brands including Victoria’s Secret, Marks and Spencer and Triumph — making Sri Lanka a global hot spot for lingerie.

“The perfect bra is all about getting the cup size right,” says Vitarana, a technical director attached to MAS Holdings, one of the country’s top clothing firms that ships millions of articles to shops in the United States and Europe.

Sri Lanka, better known for tea and a 35-year old ethnic conflict, is remaking its image.

The private sector is investing heavily in the lingerie market so it can remain competitive with China, India and Vietnam.

“We would like to be known as the lingerie capital, a place where you can get the most intricate designs done,” says Ajith Dias, chairman of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF).

The clothing industry is a lifeline for Sri Lanka, earning 2.9 billion dollars in revenue last year. It accounts for over 50 percent of the