At Negative Lingerie, Less Is More - OZY | A Modern Media Company

At Negative Lingerie, Less Is More

At Negative Lingerie, Less Is More

By Rachel Levin


Because, well, you’re no hussy.

By Rachel Levin

There was a hole in underwear. It was either sequins-and-bows or boring-and-comfy — nothing in between, according to Lauren Schwab and Marissa Vosper. For them, sexy is most definitely not Victoria’s Secret.

“Push-up bras make you into something you’re not,” says Vosper. “And the functional stuff just covers you up and makes you feel matronly.” There was no affordable brand that straddled the line between comfort and style. “We wanted lingerie that highlights women as they are. That says your natural body is beautiful.”

Cue the Dove commercials — and enter Negative, a Manhattan-based online lingerie line, launching in December with a 17-piece collection. And not an ounce of pink. “You won’t see a lot of lace and ruffles,” laughs Schwab. Instead, think nylon lizard print and black micro-mesh, patterns that swap the frouffy-feminine thing for a more unisex appeal.

“We wanted guys to feel comfortable buying Negative for their girlfriends or wives,” says Vosper, “and not have to feel, like, they’re imposing this archetype of sexy.”

More importantly, though, they wanted women to feel good wearing it. Physically comfortable, yes. “A bra you want to live in,” says Schwab, “not take off right when you walk in the door after work.” But figuratively, too.

As part of their intense research — which included trips to Paris to meet vendors at Interfilière and Miami to secure a factory in Colombia with the very strictest labor standards — they sent out a survey to their combined 600 female Facebook friends asking them to rank their most important factors in buying underwear. Number one? Feeling good about yourself.

“Underwear is the first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing you take off at night,” explains Vosper. “It’s your foundation. It matters.”

They heard anecdotally that women would just shop for underwear at the stores they grew up with and then stuff their purchases into their purses so they wouldn’t be embarrassed walking down the street with, say, a Victoria’s Secret bag. “That definition of sexy just doesn’t resonate with a working woman in Manhattan who wears Rag & Bone jeans and a Zara blazer,” says Vosper.

Every fabric, every hook-and-eye, every elastic band, every underwire was painstakingly sourced from around the globe. Call it the world’s first multicultural thong: Negative crisscrosses continents and time zones, using vendors from Austria and Belgium to Japan and Italy — and then has every sample handmade in Manhattan; production will be in Medellin. 

Friends since freshman year, Vosper and Schwab were always fashion obsessed and had flirted with the idea of starting something style-related together, but “being good Penn girls,” they both joined the business world after graduation instead. Vosper is a marketing consultant; Schwab works in finance.  

And now, Negative, which has been their after-hours passion project for four years — is finally coming to fruition. “We’ve gotten really good at moonlighting; we spend basically every weekend together,” says Schwab. “At least our boyfriends like each other, and luckily football season coincides with our launch. And no, they weren’t allowed at the photo shoot.” is slated to launch later this year.

Exact pricing still to be determined — but a set (underwear and bra) will be around $100.


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