Recently two fell Penn grads founded the underwear line, Negative. Identified as one of the five Ones to Watch intimates brands at Lingerie Fashion Week, Negative is perfect for every day wear, bachelorette gifts, and beyond, offering quality garments that are affordable, wearable and cool. I love the Essaouira bra so much, I recently flashed–er, modeled–in front of a group of girlfriends over to my home a couple weeks ago. I spoke with Marissa and Lauren to learn more.
Louise McCready Hart: What is the philosophy behind Negative Underwear?
Marissa Vosper: Our philosophy is all about “less is more”. We focus on the essentials and ditch the rest. The goal with Negative is to continually edit 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, packaging, social media and editorial content–the whole customer experience.
LMH: What inspires you?
Lauren Schwab: We’re inspired to solve real problems and to make women feel amazing while doing it. 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!
LMH: What is the inspiration behind your initial collection?
MV: 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.
LS: 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.
LMH: Who is your ideal client?
LS: As an underwear brand, we rely heavily on word of mouth among our loyal customers since our products will largely go unseen in public life. So our ideal client is a woman who finds something she loves and tells everyone she knows.
MV: We also really love our male clients–guys who go out of their way to buy something they think their wife or girlfriend will love. As an example, one of our best customer emails so far: “You not only made a bra that fits her beautifully, but is also ridiculously flattering. Now, I’m sure that getting an email like this is a bit odd coming from a guy, but it makes me happy to see her happy, and I thought I would thank you for that.” We melted.
LMH: Describe your personal style and aesthetic.
LS: We’re big fans of all black–it comes with the territory when you live in NYC! But we certainly take more liberties with our clothing and accessories. A big reason why we became friends so many years ago is because we both saw personal style as the best creative outlet. Getting dressed in the morning is this amazing daily opportunity for experimentation and fun; it’s not as permanent as a new hair color but has the same transformative potential.
LMH: Any personal styling tricks? Insights?
LS: Many women we talk to (ourselves included before we started on Negative) find they’re actually wearing the wrong size bra for their body. The most common change we’ve seen is to go down a band size and up a cup size since the underband of a bra is actually where the majority of the support function should come from. Ideally, your bra should fit snugly around the ribs on the loosest hook when you first buy it so you can take it in over time with wear.
MV: And of course, in launching with a mainly black collection first, we’re big fans of the intentionally overt bra. There’s nothing sexier than a black bra under a white shirt–just ask Kate Moss!
LMH: Where do you see yourself, and your company, in a year? 5 years? Any upcoming plans or projects?
MV + LS: Running a successful underwear empire!