Again in pre-pandemic occasions, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum selected Stripe & Stare as the underwear manufacturer of the foreseeable future. It was in the course of the museum’s 2016 retrospective on underwear through the ages and how undergarments have mirrored women’s liberation.
The British-primarily based manufacturer was just acquiring started then. (Stripe & Stare officially launched in 2017 right after about a 10 years of analysis and advancement into sustainable fabrics and sourcing.) But the museum chose the beginner brand name precisely mainly because it reflected the concept of the exhibit: Stripe & Stare’s materials have been smooth and liberating.
“They said they picked our product or service mainly because of our dedication to sustainability and the exciting, flirty models that give greatest ease and comfort, which represented the future of underwear,” Katie Lopes, cofounder and resourceful director of the agency, instructed WWD.
The uber-girly assortment is also fitting for a museum. It is like candy for the eyes. There are lively neon colors, alongside patterns of stripes, stars, rainbows, hearts, animal prints, catchy phrases and other playful styles. There are also rompers and tanks and men’s underwear and bathing robes. (Which is British for robes.)
The range aside, purchasers only need to have to touch Stripe & Stare’s fabrics to come to feel how delicate they are: the knickers and pajama sets are manufactured from beech trees and Tencel micro modal materials, developed in a forest from responsibly-sourced trees. Packaging is manufactured from biodegradable plant materials with a reminder to compost right after use and tags are all built of recycled cardboard. The brand name turned a qualified B Corp in 2022.
But Lopes — a previous shop proprietor and buyer in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, and later on in Notting Hill — was planting the seeds for sustainability extensive right before it grew to become an sector buzzword.
“I had my possess merchants in London, providing present-day manner models these as Rag & Bone and Zimmermann, and I could not come across a great pair of underwear for day-to-day have on,” she reported. “So I begun creating our individual vary for our prospects. It was at a time when we have been commencing to realize the harm manner was undertaking to the earth. So it felt like if you ended up going to start out a thing new it should really be finished in a superior way. The two vital challenges I wanted to tackle were being ease and comfort for day to day — some thing that was not monotonous and frumpy — as well as sustainability. This is specially vital for underwear, which is something that can not be purchased secondhand and some thing we use every day. At this time only 1 p.c of underwear was sustainably sourced.
“Founding a organization is super rough, but figuring out we have a great product offers us assurance,” she continued. “Our amount a single resource of new buyers is by way of term of mouth. We want to make sustainable underwear mainstream.”
Rapidly Forward six several years — and with the support of cofounder Nicola Piercy— and the London-primarily based manufacturer is escalating fast. Revenues surged additional than 3,000 p.c in between 2019 and 2022, with a latest valuation of around $15 million. The direct-to-purchaser startup’s small business has also grown to consist of wholesale partnerships, equally in the U.K. and Stateside, with the likes of Selfridges, Shopbop, Revolve and Bloomingdale’s. Zalando is coming in January.
“We enjoy partnering with retailers,” Lopes said. “It’s a great way of finding in front of new buyers.”
There have also been collaborations with LoveShackFancy and The Property Edit. The manufacturer is at the moment in talks with other brands in the U.S., Australia and Brazil, as well as a feasible partnership with a European influencer, despite the fact that Lopes declined to say who.
The style entrepreneur included that earlier collaborations have yielded 7-figure earnings returns, while rising total model awareness. “Luckily, so several gals like our range and are pleased to tell the entire world. So we have always had plenty of partnership solutions,” she explained.
It is not just people who have taken take note of the brand name. Buyers have also found advancement. The model has been approached by likely consumers, all of which Lopes has turned down — for now.
“We have seriously been in the suitable area at the suitable time,” she spelled out. “The #MeToo motion saw a seismic change in women’s underwear browsing practices. Really swiftly females required underwear that was tremendous comfortable even though still providing a excellent aesthetic. The days of sexy, awkward underwear built with the male gaze in head no lengthier felt right for present day women of all ages. The significance of objective-led browsing also elevated with individuals caring far more and much more how and by whom their products are created. And the pandemic was yet another aspect with more and far more searching online and people today at dwelling seeking to devote in convenience.”
To assistance with the brand’s swift expansion, Stripe & Stare introduced on a new chief govt oficer last September. Cathay Newnes Smith, who hails most not long ago from British clothes retailer Boden, provides with her much more than 20 decades of retail experience and skills in merchandise, merchandising, obtaining and advertising and marketing.
“Nicola and I do not have the manufacturer expansion qualifications that Cathy has. So she truly is familiar with what it takes to turn out to be a massive business, whilst we convey the model id and start out-up mentality,” Lopes mentioned. “She is bringing infrastructure to Stripe & Stare, which has been in get started-up manner for the earlier 5 decades, just holding up with the demand from customers. But it is time to do the job on our units, array setting up and developing the crew to put together for even more development. So it is a terrific combination.”
With Newnes Smith’s aid, the Stripe & Stare team aims to increase its valuation to $100 million by 2027.
“We’ll get there by rising our consumer foundation by collaborations, partnerships, digital advertising and marketing, wholesale [business], pop-ups and activities,” Lopes said. “We have witnessed enormous achievement with routes these as podcast partnerships, influencer partnerships from micro to macro and operating with gals we admire to assist distribute the phrase.
“We continue to confront numerous troubles — from increasing supply chain expenses to a charge-of-residing disaster to a looming economic downturn to increasing electronic advertising and marketing fees — as all firms are going through,” she ongoing. “But we are in a very good spot to temperature the storm. When we continue to keep our numbers conservative and are pretty danger averse, we are also extremely bold, so we know it’s probable. The underwear current market is so large. We never require a quite major piece of it to achieve this.”
There are programs to develop the assortment with new silhouettes and innerwear variations, whilst Lopes explained the emphasis will constantly be on intimates and “cool, relaxed, sustainable underwear.”
“If we ended up to diversify far too much into vogue we would close up carrying out a lot of things badly,” Lopes explained. “We are actual believers in executing a person matter effectively and getting very centered. Our aim is to provide just one product to thousands and thousands of ladies — there is a large industry out there for us to seize.”
In addition, Lopes explained Stripe & Stare is looking at moving into bodily retail or pop-up shops to assist increase brand name recognition. She is at the moment in talks with Leap — a system that supports e-commerce models as they set up shops IRL — to make the bounce from electronic to bodily.
“It’s a good time for deals in retail and we would glimpse at any pop-up as a branding and marketing action for purchaser acquisition and a location where by we can tell our sustainable tale as much as a income stream,” she mentioned. “There is so substantially scope to expand in underwear and sleepwear.”
Lopes stated she might even be open to advertising the brand “in a couple years,” but extra, “while we’re making the brand, it may well be that we’re savoring it as well a lot and want to hold developing the enterprise ourselves.”
Increasing on her wishlist, Lopes claimed, “If we had an limitless price range, I would really like a space in London and New York. 1 in the West Village and Chelsea or Notting Hill. But I think that is a way off at the moment.”