I don't know about you but I'm always so amazed at the amount of talent out there, such an amazing bunch of gals owning it in the underwear space so I've put together a little collection of my favourite brands of this year. As I was getting together my coveted labels, I noticed my interest has been drawn to those labels that are disruptive and using tech or a new way of thinking to pave the way and I've also found myself particularly drawn to those designers favouring minimalism and sustainability. So without further ado, here are my top 10. Feel free to add yours in the comments!
:: disruptive & inclusive ::
I've been creeping on Chromat since they launched in 2013. Founder & chief creative Becca McCharen is a forward thinking individual who is challenging the fashion industry so I wasn't surprised when she was announced as a finalist for the influential CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
McCharen did not study fashion instead she graduated from Univeristy of Virginia School of Architecture and could be at first found on construction sites. Her architectural bent is obvious when you look at her stunning sculptural pieces. But as McCharen has proved time and time again, she's not just creating interesting fashion, she's challenging an industry entrenched in out-dated practices by committing to creating a truly inclusive brand.
"I like to work with plus-size women or trans women or women with bionic legs. For us, the people we to put on the runway are the people we're inspired by, the people we want to see in fashion, and the people we want to celebrate. Coming from not-the-fashion-world, I wasn't so much entrenched in that philosophy of the homogenous clothes-hanger model. We've always wanted to celebrate all the people who are in our world," she told Elle magazine last year.
Becca McCharen was featured in the #ActuallySheCan video series, which are films dedicated to celebrating strong, smart and driven women. The film follows McCharen as she prepared for the new Lumina collection, inspired by "the color theory and light explorations of conceptual artists Robert Irwin and Dan Flavin combined with the biological functions of luminescence."
LA FILLE D'O
:: strong, quirky, unique ::
la fille d'O is a Belgian-based, independent lingerie label founded in 2003 by Murielle Victorine Scherre. Read any interview with Murielle or peruse her photography and it's immediately evident she has always been incredibly true to her craft and has never compromised in her dedication to keeping it real. Murielle once said in this interview with The Lingerie Journal: "I love reality. I see so much beauty in it on a daily basis. I feel fooled with all this touching up and improving the goodness that surrounds us. It bores the hell out of me. I want to see the bruises on your skin because it make me happy to see you are out there and it makes me curious to know how you got them. I am interested in women and I like showing women I find beautiful and interesting." Nuff said.
:: minimal ::
Known for its minimalism, Negative Underwear does aware with all the frills. Founders Lauren Schwab and Marissa Vosper spent four years ducking into change rooms to try on every bra under the sun and with a keen eye picked apart everything they liked and disliked about the underwear they were seeing. They wanted to create their ultimate bra with minimal features and parts. As they ay on their website "in a world of overdone and pushed up, we’re intentionally not. We believe less is more."
I love supporting independent labels, especially those that eschew tradition and opt for simplicity. In focusing on minimalism and comfort, Marissa said: “A lot of other lingerie bands seem to design products form a voyeuristic perspective, it’s for someone else’s pleasure, not necessarily the wearer’s, and often the wearer’s the afterthought … It doesn’t matter if the wearer enjoys wearing it, as long as the person looking at her is enjoying it.”
Negative also has a #supportthegirls campaign which features images of customers wearing Negative lingerie with no airbrushing.
:: simple & sustainable ::
Baserange (Basic Aesthetic for Sustainable Easywear) is the brainchild of friends Marie-Louise Mogensen and Blandine de Verdelhan. I love their soft, subtle and sustainable underwear made using organic fabrics in family-run factories in Portugal. The collection favours a philosophy of "creating clean, easy and accessible garments that exist somewhere between modern culture and the natural world."
:: disruptive ::
OK so I have these on their way to me as I write this and I will update once I've tried them out but I've read a bucketload of reviews (mostly positive) for these period panties and as much as the thought of the whole panties-full-of-blood thing freaked me out a bit when I first heard about THINX a year ago, I've definitely changed my tune and I'm excited to try them.
The THINX period panties are exactly as they say, they replace your use of tampons and pads with an ultra absorbent and antibacterial layers of material. They come in six styles depending on your flow: hiphugger and hi-waist (heavy flow), sport (medium flow), boyshort and cheeky (lighter day) and thong (lightest days).
Whether the growing popularity of period panty companies can cause major disruption to the sanitary pad and tampon market will remain to be seen but anything that improves comfort and hygiene is a win for us so here's hoping they get the formula right.
:: delicate & subtle ::
A graduate of prestigious Parisian fashion school Studio Bercot, Yasmine Eslami learnt her fine art of corsetry and developed an obsession with delicates when working for the amazing Vivienne Westwood. She took the plunge and launched her own lingerie label in 2000. Yasmine says her "accentuate and celebrate the natural form of a woman’s body — as a rule, bras do not feature padding." She works with the finest Italian crepe, German technical mesh tulle and Swiss cotton and French lace.
:: body positive ::
I'm including New-Zealand born Lonely Lingerie on here as one of a growing number of lingerie brands embracing body positivity. In an age where we're still seeing the big lingerie behemoths using only one style of model, I think it's important to support companies adopting a more inclusive marketing standard. Lonely eschews conventional marketing, bringing its collections to life via the Lonely Girls Project, a journal featuring women around the world from all walks of life captured wearing Lonely in their way.
:: androgyny ::
Born and raised in Hong Kong, designer Marie Yat moved to London and studied at the coveted Central Saint Martins. I love her simplicity and commitment to balancing comfort and sensuality. She said in an interview in Dazed: “We are designing for women who identify themselves outside of the mainstream characteristics of lingerie. One of the core ideas of the label is to combine the delicate details of lingerie and the relaxing feel of a piece of unisex underwear”. And like many indie brands, Marie is embracing women's bodies by refusing to photoshop, her imagery very clearly showcasing stretch marks and bruises. As someone with stretch marks, cellulite and bruises, I say "hell yeah!"
:: dark & romantic ::
Hopeless Lingerie has been creating dark, modern, and romantic lingerie since 2008. Owner and designer Gaby Adamidis established the brand after studying fashion, art history, and film, and with the help of her sister Dominique built Hopeless into an internationally recognized brand. Favouring soft bamboo jersey, provocative sheer mesh, and the colour black, the designs are conceived through the use of line and geometry, to accentuate curves and reveal skin with cutout details. Deadstock fabric features heavily in every Hopeless collection, saving that which would otherwise be destined for landfill by other designers.
ME and YOU
:: girlhood whimsy ::
Lastly I wanted to include Me and You because I love the girlhood nostalgia it conjures. The brand is the result of a friendship between real life BFF's and fashion school grads, Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis. Since graduating they have been collaborating on underwear, tees, dresses and photographs. According to the girls, the Me and You world encompasses things like, friendship, feminism, messy bedrooms, temporary tattoos, Nancy Sinatra, name necklaces, kisses.
So what do you think? Have I missed your absolute favourite lingerie designer? (and yes, for the record I didn't forget Bordelle, they just didn't make the cut for me this year)