Lunya, which believes that sleepwear is the most underestimated part of a woman’s wardrobe, on Thursday opened a 2,500-square-foot store at 255 Elizabeth Street in Manhattan’s NoLIta — the brand’s first New York store, and second brick-and-mortar location after an inaugural unit in Santa Monica.
Ashley Merrill launched Lunya out of frustration over a lack of comfortable sleepwear. Merrill did what other women in the same situation do, she wore her husband’s T-shirts and briefs to bed. “There was lingerie, and that was it,” she said, noting that she’s not a froufrou type of woman. “I ended up trying a couple of things on the market. The choices were uncomfortable, sexy lingerie or frumpy pajamas.”
One night as she was walking to bed, Merrill caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror wearing the oversize garments. She said she remembers thinking that her reflection in the careless sleepwear didn’t jibe with the image she wanted to project, that of a confident, comfortable and effortlessly cool woman.
“I started working on this six years ago,” said Merrill, who had no apparel industry experience; prior to Lunya, she launched and managed Momtastic, an online lifestyle destination. “I felt that we were on a mission to serve women.” The direct-to consumer brand bowed in 2016, followed by a store called The Bedroom in Santa Monica next to the company’s headquarters.
Lunya engages consumers in the Los Angeles area with monthly events and panels such as the upcoming “The Best Sex Talk You Never Had,” which is billed as “a toolkit for personal sexual wellness and pleasure by Savoir Collab and Do the Good Stuff.” Merrill said as a result of the healthy events roster, sales in the L.A. area increased 750 percent versus a 300 percent lift, which is typical growth in a single city. “Last night we had an event with 120 people,” Merrill said. “There’s definitely an appetite for yoga and classes.”
The New York Bedroom features, well, bedroomlike vignettes throughout the monochromatic space, which is meant to evoke the feeling of “walking through your door at home, kicking off your shoes and dropping all of [the day’s] baggage,” Merrill said. “The space was designed to bring intention to our bedroom choices with a handful of curated pieces. The nighttime routine and environment can be an important part of getting good sleep, so we set up the store to showcase our sleepwear and our favorite nightstand finds in a clean modern interior that helps us quiet our minds.”
Merrill is considering expanding the night table concept. “At this point, we’re building out the brand,” she said. “We love sleepwear. What goes along with the story could be the books we’re reading. We’ll be selling other products.”
Merrill’s first objective, however, is helping “improve how people sleep.” Lunya’s Restore collection is made from a blend of Pima cotton and Celliant, a mineral compound that’s used in fibers to increase circulation. “It works to absorb and convert body heat into infrared energy, which is recycled back into your skin and tissues and helps you recharge while you sleep,” Merrill said.
“I hear about menopause all the time,” said Merrill, who created Lunya’s Cool collection made from Pima cotton blended with TransDry and XT2 fibers. TransDry helps to move moisture across a greater surface area of the body, which prevents it from pooling in unwanted places and keeps the wearer cooler and drier at night. Another group of washable silk products is thermoregulating and can be worn by cold and hot sleepers. “You have to be incredibly rigorous with research and development,” Merrill said.
Kits and sets are the most commonly sold products. For example, there’s a washable silk set, including a top and shorts for $178, and luxe washable silk kit, with a top, flat-front shorts, moisturizing sleep mask and candle, $248. Purchased separately, Restore base tank, $58, and shorts, $68; Cool Every Body T-shirt, $88 and shorts, $78; Cool Pima romper, $168, and Pima sleep dress, $106.
Merrill revealed that she wears Lunya when she’s traveling by plane. “It’s just meant for sleep, but I have no boundaries,” she said. “Anything that increases the circulation…”