With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s time to #wearlessclothes, significant other or not. For the perfect V-Day gift for your lovely lady or to just embrace your sexy single self, check out Negative Underwear. This direct to consumer lingerie line has been everywhere from WWD to exclusive collaborations with Goop . We here at VIVE had the pleasure to speak with Lauren Schwab and Marissa Vosper, the co-founders of Negative Underwear who were recently featured on Forbes' 30 Under 30.
We're obsessed with Negative Underwear. Can you tell us a bit more about the yourself/the company and the inspiration behind it?
Marissa Vosper: Why thank you! Being obsessed with an underwear brand in and of itself is such a cool accomplishment for us – when we came up with the idea of starting a lingerie line (many years back), we honestly couldn’t list a single lingerie brand that we loved – let alone were obsessed with. So I guess that was a big part of the inspiration – to make a better brand of underwear for every day that was actually worthy of loving.
When we started diving deeper into what really drove women’s satisfaction (or lack thereof) with their current options, we learned that first and foremost it had to feel good on, and secondly, that you had to feel good in it – so it’s part form/function/fit, part aesthetic/style/taste. In our minds, underwear should make you feel good in your own skin – it should give you confidence. In our minds, investing in great underwear is a (often-neglected) form of self-love that really can change how you feel on any given day.
Because Lauren and I came from business backgrounds (L from finance, me from branding), we really sought out to solve problems and learn from other smart direct-to-consumer businesses in order to leverage our skills, backgrounds and networks. There’s enough crap in the world – we wanted to build something better – better product, better business, better brand.
Why "Negative"; what does the name mean?
Lauren Schwab: The whole concept behind the brand and the line is less is more – taking away the unnecessary and focusing on what’s not there just as much as what is. So the name Negative is really about negative space and minimalism. We also intentionally chose a name that felt unique and noteworthy in a category of very fanciful, flirty, sometimes silly, often French or Italian names. We wanted to stand out – we wanted something direct, short and sweet that would make you think twice and that you wouldn’t forget.
We’ve hear neither of you were designers previously. How did you go about designing your lingerie? Did you work with a designer?
MV: That’s right. Both Lauren and I went to UPenn for college – it’s where we met as freshman. About 4-5 years into our respective careers we decided to take night classes at FIT to explore potential opportunities in fashion – something we were both really passionate about. The idea to focus on underwear came during that time together.
While we learned about fashion design and product development at FIT, our design process was much more organic and didn’t really involve sketching. We approached design from the perspective of fit and feel – we spent hours ever weekend in lingerie stores trying on every bra we could get our hands on. We looked at what worked, and more often what didn’t. We took the best elements of what we liked and started to piece together our first samples.
LS: Also, because our brand is all about minimalism / less is more, we wanted to be laser-focused on the details – when you take a lot of embellishment away, the pieces that remain should be exceptional. We spent years sourcing, experimenting and iterating – searching for the best, softest/silkiest fabrics, elastics and trims – trying out different combinations to come to our ultimate designs and silhouettes.
Our goal all along was to create a collection that felt amazing on the body and also looked really cool – with or without clothes on.
What's your inspiration behind your upcoming collection? Where do you find inspiration?
LS: Our upcoming collection is our take on nude – this beautiful pale peachy/pink nude. Since there’s no such thing as one color that matches everyone’s skin tone, we chose to find a color we both loved versus picking an uninspired tan or beige.
To be honest, we draw a lot of inspiration from our customers. We want to be a brand that solves problems first and foremost, so we really listen to what our customers tell us. When we launched the collection about a year ago, the line was mainly black. We had an immediate outpour of requests for lighter colors (white, nude, pink, etc.) – we launched white on Black Friday and we’ll aim to launch ‘nude’ in early spring.
What's next for Negative? Anything you're particularly excited about and can share?
LS: Something we’re both really excited about in the very near-term is our Valentine’s mobile pop-up – the ‘Negative LoveStream’ J We’ve rented this awesome silver air stream truck to park at key locations in Manhattan right in time for the holiday. The idea is to help busy (but thoughtful!) guys / girls find the perfect last-minute cool girl’s gift. We’ve got some great partners involved including Chuao chocolates and LiveFast Magazine and it should be really great. An experiment for sure, but we hope a buzzy one!
If you had one piece of advice to give for anyone setting out to start a business, what would it be?
MV: First and foremost, focus on something you really love because it’s going to take longer and work you harder than you could have ever imagined. That and always maintain a sense of irrational optimism because the odds are against you, so if you don’t believe with utter confidence that you’re going to beat them, no one else will.
What's the one beauty product you can't leave home without?
MV: I’m a total health nut, so my real beauty must-haves tend center around clean foods, alkaline water and good sleep. That said, even with no makeup on, which is not uncommon these days – I almost always curl my lashes and moisturize my lips. Burts Bees Peppermint lip balm is an oldie but a goodie. I have a handful of them floating around in various handbags and toiletry kits.
LS: It’s true – these days neither of us have much time for makeup, but in a pinch I always have Chanel No. 19 red lipstick in my bag. It can be quickly transformative and instantly brightens your face.