Undergarments. Underwear. Lingerie, skivvies, pants. Whatever you call it, we all wear it. As aesthetically inclined women who care about the way fabrics look and feel, we care more than others about our underpinnings. While I'm a lady of expensive tastes and restrictive sizing, I'm a picky lady, so when I find a brand that works, I go with it. One new brand is setting a new standard in the underwear world. While in New York last week I got the chance to sit down with Marissa and Lauren and ask them a few questions about Negative Underwear. What did you both do before launching Negative? What prompted your interest in fashion? We met in college at UPenn, graduated and both went into our respective careers in NYC – Lauren in finance, Marissa in branding. The thing is, we’ve always loved fashion – a mutual creative outlet and reflection of personal style – but never saw the professional opportunity. About 4 years ago we were progressing in our career paths but had a nagging sense that something was missing. We decided to take night classes at FIT for fun to see what would come of it. That time together was the beginning of Negative.
Why did you choose to create lingerie? Because we both came from business backgrounds, we wanted to focus on an area of fashion that presented a good business opportunity. We wanted to solve problems, not just design clothes. So many women – customers and non-customers alike – tell us how dissatisfied they are with their current underwear options and how they don’t know where to go to find an alternative. We don’t want to add clutter to an already crowded fashion category for the sake of aesthetics; we want to build something fundamentally better than what’s out there today. And every time we get a customer email saying we’ve accomplished just that – we get goosebumps! Why "Negative"? What ideas went into creating the brand identity? The core idea behind Negative is ‘less is more’ – focusing on the essentials and ditching the rest. The name specifically refers to concepts like negative space, reduction, minimalism, minus, antidote/opposite… We wanted our name to stand out and clearly communicate our difference from the rest of the lingerie world. With our brand (and business), we give a lot of consideration to what’s not there, continually editing out anything unnecessary in order to stay laser-focused on what really matters - and what remains. This applies not only to our product design and brand identity, but also to our edited merchandise assortment, web design + UX, packaging, social media + editorial content -- the whole customer experience. The logo / wordmark itself is the perfect reflection of this philosophy – what can you remove from the typography and still get across the same essential idea?
What are your goals? One year down the road, five years, and eventually? Nearer-term, we want to make our customers fall in love with underwear. (well, you got me!) There’s so much about what you put on your body underneath that’s just for you – in this way, underwear bears more similarities to skincare than ready to wear. We want to give women a reason to care about what they wear underneath. A little gift to yourself! And then longer-term… we totally want to build a successful underwear empire – for girls, by girls.
Do you think you will ever expand from lingerie? (congrats on adding the cozy tanks!) Definitely. The idea of removing unnecessary elements and focusing on fewer, better components is not just applicable to underwear. We definitely see Negative as a bigger concept – a lifestyle brand of products, services and content that happens to make really cool underwear first. Our tees and tanks are just one extension of that philosophy beyond intimate apparel. Where do you find your inspiration? Our initial collection is a true reflection of our brand philosophy – it’s very edited, very simple, with really luxurious textiles and elastics – we dissected the core components of bras and underwear and scoured the world for the best of the best without compromise. When you wear our line, you can feel the difference. One of our textiles (the Essaouira line) specifically reminded us of a Moroccan lantern, so we used Morocco as a subtle theme throughout the first collection – Essaouira is a little surfer town right outside of Marrakesh, Boa and Albatross are species native to the country and a Sieve is something readily found in a typical Moroccan Souk.
What sets you apart from your competitors? The fact that we designed our line from a function-first perspective – and challenged a lot of typical industry conventions around sourcing and distribution. So much lingerie is made to just look beautiful and serve no other purpose. Or it’s made to be 100% functional with zero sex appeal. Given how essential underwear is in a woman’s life every day, we wanted to make something that felt amazing on – but still looked great too. We were sick of having to compromise on comfort versus cool – so we challenged ourselves to do both!
Do you each have a favorite piece? MV… It’s like picking a favorite child! I honestly wear everything from the line on rotation (it’s best to let your bras have a few days in between wears to let the elastics readjust FYI). But most often, I’d say the Essaouira demi bra + thong – it’s probably the most uniquely recognizable of our fabrics, so I wear it as often as possible under anything white or sheer – it’s the closest we get to a walking calling card! LS… Our collection is super edited, so really each piece serves a different purpose in my wardrobe. Boa is like my second skin, Albatross is for when I want a pop of color, Essaouira is the perfect bra for a little side boob action and Sieve is great for date night!
MY personal final thoughts on the collection? These ladies have done their research; they've asked the questions, traveled the world, and found the coziest fabrics and trendy yet subtle prints, perfect for underwear. After trying on the Sieve micro mesh style, I was in love. It was the comfiest bra I've ever worn, and hard to remember was even there. With an InstaGram full of re-grams of packaging and Polaroids of happy customers, this brand is on their way to the top. With affordable pricing and a killer brand motto, Negative Underwear should be in your arsenal.
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