LONDON — Lemonade Dolls, the new lingerie brand aimed at women 15 to 26 years old, is all about female power — and a reaction to the Victoria’s Secret aesthetic.
Launched by the singer-songwriter known as Lemon and by Caren Downie, the founder of British women’s wear label Finery, the collection is colorful and lighthearted. Bralettes come in bright yellow, mint green lace, fuchsia pink and a lemon print, while the underwear is emblazoned with slogans such as “My Pants, My Rules,” “Not Your Babe” and “Fight the Fight.”
“I found it really hard to buy cool and fab underwear at that age,” said Lemon, adding that now is the right time to move on from the Victoria’s Secret aesthetic that has dominated the market for years and which is facing both an increasing backlash — as seen by its parent L Brands’ financial results — and growing competition from direct-to-consumer lingerie brands such as Third Love.
“I grew up with the Spice Girls, the era when girls loved each other and it was a very supportive environment. Now that there’s Instagram and the Kardashians, it feels like there’s a culture of competition and negativity. So those two things made Lemonade Dolls super important for me to create,” Lemon added.
Lemonade Dolls began with a Kickstarter campaign and reached its target of 15,000 pounds — approximately $19,000 — in 26 days with a total of 69 backers. The company has raised a further 500,000 pounds in start-up funding this month, with sales projected to reach 1 million pounds in the first year.
Lemon said there was overwhelming support for her “girl power designs” and interest in the brand’s subscription model service. Consumers select their size, and every month, two pairs of underwear are delivered to their door at a 10 percent discount. Subscribers also get personal videos from Lemon and invitations to events. “It’s all part of creating a community,” she said.
While the brand was born as digital and direct-to-consumer, it’s also branching into retail with a pop-up launch at Topshop’s Oxford Circus flagship on Jan. 27, in the high street retailer’s lingerie department.
Downie said there are a lot of start-ups that offer comfortable non-padded and non-wired underwear, “but we haven’t seen anything for this age group and nothing that’s fun.” Prices start at 9 pounds for a thong, 15 pounds for slogan underwear and 26 pounds for a printed bra.
“The slogans will continually be refreshed and will always be very relevant. We are planning to do things like a ‘Gal-antines’ day slogan for February for example,” Downie said.
Lemonade Dolls is offering four styles of bralettes, and plans to continue producing new styles once the brand grows. Except for the lace bralette, the styles are made from Modal Lycra, which aims to provide comfort, and also allows for stretch, with sizes ranging from extra small to large — up to U.K. size 20.
Lemon and Downie worked with real girls “with every single body shape from a six to 22,” she said, to determine the fit. With the seed funding, the firm is planning to invest more into product innovation with the goal of “creating the world’s best bra.”
Lemon said she’s also eager to forge a community around the brand. She has already established a video platform called “Tit Talks,” and has interviewed women such as Kelly Knox, the first disabled model to walk in London Fashion Week, and Menna Fitzpatrick, the visually impaired Paralympic gold medalist and Jennifer Kehoe, her guide.
“Moving forward, we are also planning events such as live Tit Talks,” Downie said. Lemon emphasized that community is at the heart of the brand. “It would just be really amazing to create a community. I want to do competitions where people get to create slogans for their underwear,” she said.
As part of that effort, Lemonade Dolls is championing inclusivity: The debut campaign shows women of all shapes and sizes in images that are Photoshop-free.