Haute Street PROFILE: NOE Undergarments
Interview answered by: Bonnie Rae + Shelah Jean from NOE Undergarments
Tell us a little bit about how NOE Undergarments came to life.
NOE Undergarments came to life from our love and passion of lingerie and “little things”. We grew up on the island of Kauai and since we were babies lived in bikinis and you could say more “skin showing” apparel. I think this started the fantasy of loving tiny things… lingerie, swimwear and body showing fashion. Since we were teens we talked of the idea of starting a lingerie line… we always loved how something you can wear that is so small and often discrete can make you feel so sexy, confident and beautiful. We started really seriously conceptualizing a few years ago and then put the creative ‘pencil to paper’ in late 2012.
Describe the type of woman wearing your NOE Undergarments.
The woman who wears NOE Undergarments is strong and willing to take risks by not following trends but merely setting her own. She loves to feel sexy and beautiful for herself and that’s why she is beyond attractive. At the same time she is understatedly simple and finds interest in clean lines, uncomplicated garments and takes pride in noticing the little details of things. Whether it be in her daily life, the people she is with or her style. When you meet her in person, you leave completely touched by this contagious confidence and beauty…. that is the NOE Undergarment woman.
Lingerie is generally worn in the bedroom but your aesthetics are different. How can a woman wear your designs outside of the bedroom?
Yes, exactly… even the word “lingerie” stems a feeling of bedroom wear. When choosing our brand name we made the decision to not use ‘lingerie’ in our name, as we don’t fit completely in that category. We felt ‘undergarments’ let us be a little more abstract and open to how we were designing. We design the collection to be very versatile… every piece is made to be worn in the home or out in public as a layering piece or simply stand-alone fashion statement. Our collection is constructed of fabrics that are “showable”… shiny silks, premium grade meshes, patented Nano Lycra, Lambskin leather and most styles are trimmed with bold Herringbone Japanese elastic for strapping. The styles are more forward with untraditional silhouettes, back cut outs, deep V-fronts, bonded style bandeaus, etc. Between the fabrication combinations and silhouettes of our collection it really stands out from traditional bedroom lingerie. When you put on NOE Undergarment pieces, they don’t feel like “lingerie” some pieces may act as a function of lingerie, but as the wearer you want to show them off. We consider the collection very much a hybrid between lingerie and RTW. All our bras are designed to be worn under low scoop tanks or dresses or simply cropped tops, our leggings can be worn alone or as a perfect piece for a shorter dress or long tee and our slips can all be worn as cover ups, layered or our favorite way to style as a stand alone sheer slip with a pop bra/panty beneath.
What was the inspiration behind the most current collection?
The most current collection, SS14 was inspired by lines, we used geometric lines and shapes in this collection to add unique silhouette and seaming lines to create pieces that we’re very progressive in feel. We don’t use prints in our collection so playing with seaming details is a way we love to add a unique feel in styles as well as a perfected fit to more of our body-hugging pieces. We have our Peter group where we layer mesh panels on top of each other in certain areas of the garment to make a more contoured shape when wearing the style as well as a unique look.
We noticed that many of the pieces in the current collection are named after men. What’s in the names??
This is so fabulous you noticed this. We’ve never been asked this question and there is a reason behind each. The reason we decided on men’s names is we have a very much “yin and yang” of the brand—anything we do that is girly we love a masculine compliment so that is where the men’s names came into play… a rougher addition to a more feminine natured garment. The entire collection is based in capsules that all work together and divided by styling and fabrication. In the current collection we have the Ryan, Peter, Edward, Zachary, Oliver and Alfie capsules. Both of us are married and Ryan/Zachary are named after our fabulous husbands and the other men’s names have certain reasons from characters in books, poems, and movies to real life.
Being women entrepreneurs, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced getting into the lingerie industry?
With the August launch of AW14, it will be our 3rd season and we’re constantly facing new challenges and learning new things on a daily basis that surprise us. Both of us are not from the lingerie world, when we went to NYC to present our first collection at Curve NY (the biggest US lingerie tradeshow) in February 2013… it was so scary and we didn’t know what to expect. We met the most amazing and supportive network of people and everyone was so supportive to see we were doing something different. Since then the most challenging element has been breaking the preconceived notion that ‘innerwear’ can also be exposed. We also are such a hybrid so sometimes we hear “oh we don’t carry lingerie” or “where is your basic T-shirt bra” but we’re not exactly lingerie, we don’t make the perfected “t-shirt” or “push-up bra”…
Originating in Hawaii, did you face any challenges in exposure to the states?
We’re both from Kauai, Hawaii and Shelah still lives there while I live in Laguna Beach where our studio HQ is. We actually have more accounts and have seen more receptivity from both buyers and customers in the city spaces—NY, LA, etc. With our collection being a bit forward, it seems customers in these city locations find the collection more wearable. However, at the same time we have some sheer silk slips and triangle bralettes that do really well in Hawaii and West/East Coast beach areas. Originating from Hawaii has actually been an opening topic for many people as a point on the label… I think it’s a unique combination that people find interesting, twins that grew up on a small island and then making sexy forward undergarments.
How do you stay connected to your social media fans?
Social media is such an interesting and essential part of today’s world, it’s almost like a love and hate relationship. It’s so amazing to see people respond to your brand and love what your doing but at the same time it opens you up for critique and comparison that can be slightly overwhelming as well. Being a small niche brand, social media has been and is currently a way we use to show the personality of the brand and get feedback from our fans. We really try to show a combination of the day to day of the brand as well as polished imagery that we create, a combination of ‘spur of the moment’ and the ‘perfected’. We love doing shoots with our friends and new friends we meet in our pieces. We’re all about doing spur of the moment impromptu shoots… this shows the wearable side of the label and also allows us to show cool ways to style the collection. We’re lucky with the nature of our product people find it interesting… who doesn’t want to see a little sexy bod in undergarments?
Top 3 Instagram’s that you follow and why?
- Wolfcub Chronicles (@wolfcubwolfcub) – Brides (Brydie Mack) who runs the Aussie blog wolfcub chronicles is a friend and such a talent. Her instagram is always full of the most amazing high quality curated images – both from others and her own photography/styling. When we first started NOE Undergarments she was the first one outside ourselves to shoot and style the collection for her blog. She did one photo particularly that created a lot of interest on our label- a back shot of the Alfie Silk Slip just showing the bold T-strap down the center back, it was stunning!
- Garage Magazine (@garage_magazine) – we love the WTF with their photos. They show it all from soccer playing chickens to sexy nipple showing black and whites. We can laugh, get shocked and get inspired all through one photo source.
- Sticks and Stones Agency (@sticks_and_stones_agency) —Ains (Ainsley Hutchence) and her hubby Sebastien Fougere own Sticks and Stones Agency, which is a sales/creative/press agency in Australia. Their instagram is phenom… crazy, wild, weird, horrifying, incredibly sexy and unique. I love that they don’t care what people think or say, they do it their way. Their photos also make you laugh, get disgusted, get inspired and get turned on!
Favorite piece in the current collection?
This is something we both agree on… we have 2 favorites in the current SS14 collection—The Ryan Leather Zip-back corset and Oliver sport Bra. The Ryan Leather Zip-back corset is a white lambskin mid-length corset top. This piece has boning and structured cups to hold it’s shape, it’s lined with our premium mesh and has a bold gold zipper up the back. It’s a statement-maker and different … we love the softness of the lambskin, the intricacy and beauty of the construction and how damn hot you look when you have it on! Pair this with a casual menswear pant, healed booties and the look is pretty amazing. Our other favorite, the Oliver Sport Bra is one of our top selling styles for SS14, it’s simple yet very progressive and sexy. The style is made from European Nano Lycra and has a front high neckline and dramatic open t- back that encompasses our signature herringbone elastic and gold hardware. We love this piece as it has such a good balance of being sexy without trying.
What’s on your office playlist right now?
French Café Radio from Pandora, which will probably be followed by Iggy Azalea or Jay Z (haha!)
Best advice someone has giving you that has kept you going and growing?
“Listen to your gut instinct. Don’t deviate from your vision.”
For fashion, we’ve become obsessed with R13 and what they’ve been doing lately and of course our favorite Jeremy Scott is always so incredibly brilliant. Non- fashion, we are obsessed with good coffee and running (we both love to run… a good way to clear the crazies that can go on in your head and keep you sane!)
What gets you up for work every day?
The idea that NOE Undergarments is doing something different, the idea that we can create what we want to create, the idea that this world has very open limits and our amazing husbands and family!
Idea of happiness?
Love + passion in all areas of life. Good love with your lover, love of your work, love of your friends and family and love of the life you have…
Your favorite place that you’ve ever traveled to, and why?
We’ve both have been fortunate to travel to many areas of the world and places that stand out as amazing have been Tavarua, Fiji—amazing surf and people, Bali— unrestricted freedom, Interior Canada—incredible beauty, Italy—coffee and food and we always resort back to Kauai as one of our favorite places on earth for it’s beauty both in the land and the people.
What can’t you live without?
Coffee, chocolate + pen and paper.
Do you have a MUSE that you’d love to see rock NOE Undergarments
This sounds so cliché, she is not our MUSE but we would love to see Miley Cyrus rock NOE Undergarments… she has our collection and we can’t wait to see her rockin’ it as she could rock it like no other with her confidence and attitude.
What are some things viewers can look forward to seeing with NOE Undergarments for F/W 2014?
Some demure and some forward…. One of our favorites for AW14 is a “flame” lambskin leather ‘caged bra’ and an ultra light sheer menswear pajama set amongst some other feminine and masculine style pieces. In general, the AW14 collection is incorporating a progressive step on SS14 and we’ve spent more time really ensuring our collection can be exposed… #INNERWEAREXPOSED Follow us on instagram at @noeundergarments to see all the peaks before the collection launches on NOEUNDERGARMENTS.COM on August 1st!