We’ll let Negative Underwear creators Lauren Schwab and Marissa Vosper give you the 411 on the barely there lingerie collection, but I will say, at their launch party I took an underwear selfie. It wasn’t a creepy, take-off-your-knickers-now way. It was a flaunt-what-your-mama-gave-you-and-be-proud way. And any brand that can send body positive messages without producing for the masses is one that I will respect, and support.
Tell us where the idea of Negative Underwear came from.
MV: The idea for Negative came out of a desire to solve a real problem that we saw in the industry. For two women who loved fashion, we’d never given much thought to our undergarments. And when we started giving more thought to our intimates, we didn’t see many great options out there. When we looked at the market we saw a few extremes – on one end, the uber luxury brands that were beautiful, but often too delicate, intricate and expensive for every day wear. On the other end we saw two poles – the super pushed up, pink, frilly pieces that didn’t feel representative of a modern definition of sexy – and then the bland, molded cup t-shirt bras and seamless one-size-fits all thongs that felt totally uninspired.
We wanted to create a line that was as comfortable as it was cool – both functional and covetable, with or without clothes on. We chose a direct-to-consumer business model so that we could source the highest end materials from around the world but still keep our price point in a more contemporary place.
Why that name?
MV: Negative as a brand is all about taking away the unnecessary – stripping down to the most essential bits. Our name is meant to communicate that core brand ethos – ‘less is more’ – as well as our focus on the negative space. Part of our differentiation as a brand and business is finding a white space in an otherwise crowded market and filling that need.
The lingerie styles available are balconette and demi – why no other cuts?
LS: When Marissa and I started on our product development process we tried on nearly every bra on the island of Manhattan and beyond – trying to understand what really worked, what felt and fit great, what didn’t and why. We talked to all the sales associates and took a very critical eye to construction, shape and fit – looking for pieces that seemed the most universally flattering, the most frequently purchased, etc. We also went into our own closets – almost every woman we meet has that ‘one perfect bra’ – the bra they’ve worn to death and kept far beyond it’s time and can’t find anymore. We both had bras like that and started piecing together our design vision and sample collection based on everything we’d found and learned. The choice to include just a demi and balconette cup shape to start was based on that research – and also on the desire to present an edited collection of ‘less is more’ options that felt both contemporary and differentiated in the market.
Colors and sizes are limited, is it intentional to keep things simple?
MV: Partly intentional, our brand is meant to be minimalist after all, but partly a reflection of the realities of being a small business. We started with our Black collection and a limited size range – both to test the waters with our core concept and also to meet minimums with our factories and vendors. As we’ve grown, we added White and recently Nude v1 to the mix – replicating some of the core styles that performed well in black, while also adding select new styles and sizes strategically to meet demand. Our focus on core neutral colors with subtle, more monochrome prints is intentional. Our goal is to build out a line of better luxury basics that are wearable and accessible for every day – we’re not aiming to become a candy-colored rainbow brand or every style for everyone’s taste. Part of our observation about the existing lingerie market was that the landscape was crowded and overwhelming to navigate – we want to provide a more edited experience to ultimately provide a better product / better experience.
Is there anything you’d like to share out about the brand that typically isn’t asked?
LS: We don’t always get to elaborate on design inspiration. When Marissa and I looked at the lingerie landscape we saw so much embellishment – so much make believe. Even the word ‘lingerie’ harkens to this idea of being a woman in curlers lounging around in her boudoir eating bonbons. Certainly romantic, but not very accurate – at least not for most of us! What’s more, the idea that lingerie had to be designed to seduce – to be seen and enjoyed by someone else – seemed so strange when more often than not, you might be the only one who sees your own underwear.