Negative Underwear is linking up with Matches.
Until now, the buzzy three-year-old lingerie brand has made a virtue of going it alone — in more ways than one.
The company is self-funded by cofounders Marissa Vosper and Lauren Schwab, creating a dynamic that’s demanded strategic and financial discipline. And at least until now, Negative has always gone directly to the consumer through its web site. That’s given Vosper and Schwab a strong sense of who their customers are and what they want.
But now, the duo sees their brand as on sure enough footing to make the leap to wholesale and went with U.K.-based Matches, which launches the brand today.
“As a business, we’ve always believed that Negative was direct-to-consumer at its core, but not necessarily exclusively so,” Vosper said.
Matches will help the U.S.-centric Negative dip its toes in international waters and also drive a little more volume to keep its production machine humming and meet minimum requirements at factories.
Vosper said the brand has had plenty of wholesale suitors, but the company went with Matches because it’s a “curated luxury retailer” with a tailored selection.
That’s the opposite of the lingerie-buying experience at many brick-and-mortar retailers, which Vosper described as “crowded and cramped and over-assorted and uncomfortable.”
“Lingerie is a niche space and from our perspective, a lot of the way that retailers sell lingerie is broken and we don’t want to be part of an old world system of selling lingerie,” she said. “We want to be on a platform that’s known for bringing newness to the table.”
It’s a big step for Negative, which is part of the second wave of vertically integrated digitally native brands — following in the footsteps of Warby Parker and Bonobos. Like those two brands, Negative is starting to expand beyond its roots, while also trying to keep a close hold on the relationship its developed with its customer.
One key consideration for Negative while choosing a partner was customer experience and Vosper and Schwab wanted to ensure that the people who bought the brand anywhere got plenty of tender loving care.
The relationship with Matches could help fuel the next leg of the brand’s growth.
“With any wholesale partnership, you want to see how things go before you commit to being life-line friends,” Vosper said.
And Matches liked the product.
“I loved that comfort was the center of their ethos and then obviously they are very stylish as well, which helps,” said buyer Chelsea Power. “I think that the fabrication and comfort will appeal to our customer as she is always on the go — traveling, working hard, etc. — and needs her underpinnings to mirror her lifestyle. I loved the essaouira mesh, it felt really new and modern and unlike anything else I had seen.”