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The world of undergarments has changed dramatically in the past decade. There’s more variety in fit, availability of size, and option for style than ever before. This is, in part, because more women are at the helm of lingerie and underwear brands than ever before.
Woman-owned brands like Lively take cues from outside traditional lingerie aesthetics and fabrics to create a new breed of comfortable, cool bra.
In honor of International Women’s Day (Monday, March 8) we’re highlighting female-founded lingerie brands that have a new vision for bras and panties. Some of these brands are all about embracing femininity and sexuality on one’s own terms, while others are solving overlooked markets like nursing moms and mastectomy patients.
Love Stories was founded in 2013 by Marloes Hoedeman, who came from the world of interior design. Hoedeman found herself disappointed by the lack of lingerie options on the market at the time that weren’t either “sporty spice or tutu-romance.” This inspired her to begin sketching her own vision for undergarments—something beautiful but still comfortable, well-made but not outrageously priced, and never boring.
The label’s hero item is the bralette, which is regularly updated in new colors, fabrics, and trims. It also makes darling briefs, bodysuits, pajamas, and some great swimwear, a category was launched once the brand found out some of its customers were swimming in their lingerie sets. The brand ships worldwide from its own site, but you’ll also find Love Stories on Net-a-Porter, Anthropologie, and Shopbop.
Hopeless Lingerie is an Australian brand designed by sisters Gabrielle and Dominique Adamidis. The duo launched the line in 2008, working for years from Gabrielle’s home before moving the business into what was once a two bedroom home in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. From this modest HQ the women design, cut, sew, and ship orders as well as create for celebrity clients including Beyonce, Madonna, and Britney Spears.
The Hopeless vibe looks hardcore on first glance and becomes softer and more romantic upon further study. The label uses harnesses and bondage aesthetics, but does so in soft satin elastic with adjustable straps and may pair that with a silky sheer mesh or intricate stretch lace. Everything is made to order, and the brand offers custom sizing and design services upon request. You can find Hopeless at Nordstrom.
THISTLE AND SPIRE
Thistle and Spire was founded in 2015 by Lily Chen and Maggie Bacon, who met as students at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The two work to design lingerie that is unabashedly sexy paired an attitude of self love and sex positivity. Its fantastic blog features a wide array of women on topics including sex education, self esteem, and healthcare.
The collection is inclusive of bras, panties, bodysuits, and accessories like garters and hosiery. “Basics” are not on the table here—everything is a statement maker, with cutout details, sexy straps, and peekaboo lace. For the level of intricacy, the prices are surprisingly affordable, with everything under $100.
Lively takes all the best bits of lingerie, active, and swim and combines them into what the brand calls leisurée. It’s the vision of Michelle Cordeiro Grant, who dreamed up her own line while working in merchandising and strategy at Victoria’s Secret. Lively launched in 2016 with bras and bralettes, and has since expanded to include active bras, swimwear, lounge, and more.
With prices starting at $35 and sizes ranging from 32A—44DDD, Lively is a great option for affordable, everyday bras. You’ll find everything from smooth T-shirt bras to lacy push-ups and even maternity styles in the mix. There’s also a full range of undies—from thong to high waist—worth stocking up on.
Through bold color, limited-edition drops, and comfortable fabric, Parade makes everyday underwear a little more fun. The company was co-founded in 2018 by Cami Téllez, who serves as CEO, at just 21 years old. With Parade, Téllez hopes to push forward a vision of individuality and self-expression through style, size inclusivity, and an affordable price point (styles start at $9, some are a few bucks more).
The brand offers thongs, briefs, boyshorts and other familiar silhouettes in fabrics that boast 360° stretch and come in sizes XS—3XL. Every two weeks it drops a new, limited-edition collection featuring fresh colors and prints, so there’s always something fresh to browse.
JEN ROZENBAUM FOR ANAONO
AnaOno is a godsend for breast cancer survivors. It offers a full line of bras, breast forms, lingerie, and loungewear designed for women with no breasts, one breast, fake breasts, or natural breasts. The line is the brainchild of Dana Donofree, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at just 27. After having both breasts removed, she found out the hard way how underserved the post-mastectomy market was, coming home defeated from mall stores and specialty boutiques alike.
AnaOno launched in 2014 to serve breast cancer patients and survivors, anyone with an asymmetrical chest, or who has other specialty needs not met by conventional brands. Among its offerings are bras to wear after mastectomy and reconstruction, lightweight breast form inserts for bras, and loungewear designed for recovery.
Bodily makes just about everything new moms didn’t know they needed, from C-section panties to cooling gel pads for sore nipples. Founder Tovah Haim found herself entirely unprepared for how intense recovery from birth would be after having her first child in 2017. She decided to move her career from that of CFO and investor and dive into women’s health, culminating in Bodily.
Products include bras for maternity, nursing, and pumping, and undies for the first few days after birth, as well as a high-waisted style that supports the postpartum body. It also sells useful accessories like socks with grippy bottoms and belly bands, plus stylish nursing tops. Part of the company’s aim is education for not just mom but her partner, family, and even employer and to that end its blog offers extensive information on everything postpartum and breastfeeding.
Liberté makes beautiful lace bras for the well-endowed, serving sizes 32C—38H. The company was founded in 2019 by Amber Tolliver, a model whose career included work for many lingerie brands, including as the face of Aerie’s “Real” campaign in 2013. As a size 32E, Tolliver knew both as a shopper and a model how underserved her own size range was, and with Liberté she works to provide size-inclusive collections that are comfortable and beautiful.
The brand makes just a few core styles of bras, all of which have smart details like a curved ballet back that brings straps closer. Styles combine technical fabrics like moisture-wicking micro jersey with luxurious natural fabrics such as premium Italian lace.