Introducing Ampere Contemporary Lingerie
I first heard of Ampere through word of mouth in New York City. Like any time I hear about a new brand, my ears perk up and I want to know more details! I learned more about this contemporary brand through my research online, but gained a greater understanding through meeting the co-founders at one of their signature home parties.
Ampere, named after the unit of measurement for electrical current, is the brainchild of Yun Ah Lee and Jiabei Chen, a former investment banker and a former lawyer respectively. The name is indicative of what they desire their brand to be -- something that creates a spark! Something that reflects their belief that "lingerie has the power to make a woman feel beautiful and confident."
While neither woman has a background in fashion, they did have their own experiences of both not being satisfied with what was available in their sizes and the discomfort of an awkward fitting with a stranger. They knew there were other women like them who wanted high quality, beautiful bras at accessible prices in everything from a 28F and a 30B to a 34A and a 36D. That fueled their fire to do more research, take classes at FIT, and build their knowledge of the industry. Through this process, they decided to use a sizing convention in centimeters to have a more accurate fit and be able to offer 28 sizes through an F cup (about double what many mainstream retailers sell!). While the women didn't start out with this industry knowledge, they did start with a philosophy that a luxurious experience and customer service would be at the center of their business.
Ampere's approach to customer service is reflected in their sales model. One option is through home parties, private events like the one I attended. There, groups of women gathering over drinks and snacks have the opportunity to try pieces on in a comfortable setting. Since Yun Ah and Jiabei are present, attendees are able to receive fit help and learn more specifics about the styles. Since this is limited to a few East Coast cities and L.A., it isn't the experience most customers have, which is why Ampere also has a robust online service approach. To be customer friendly, Ampere has a Home Try-On program. Orders in a given size come with additional "sister sizes" for free. Returns are free so this allows the customer to try on at home and return what doesn't fit. Easy peasy!
I was curious about Jiabei's and Yun Ah's thoughts on growing their brand beyond this model. Would brick and mortar stores be in their future? They shared, "We're always considering new opportunities, brick and mortar stores being one of them. There are a lot of boutiques that carry brands we admire and would be proud to be displayed next to. So far, however, we love being an e-commerce business because we get to interact directly with our customers." I also asked about the growth of the line itself. At the time of the party I attended, Ampere offered a collection of bras and panties as well as rompers and chemises in black and neutral only. The co-founders indicated a desire to add more sizes, colors, and designs. As they launched, they had prioritized breadth of sizes, quality, and fit and now were looking ahead. I'm happy to report that Ampere has recently introduced some pops of color! I'm adoring the pretty purple chemises myself although I imagine the mint will be stunning against many skin tones.
Interested in Ampere and not sure where to start? I asked both Yun Ah and Jiabei about their personal favorites in the collection. Yun Ah is a big fan of the Lily strapless bra because it is comfortable, beautiful, and fits well. “It is so difficult to find an elegant and practical strapless bra. I love that our strapless bra does not slide and has a hint of lace detail.” For Jiabei, the Gramercy bra wins! It’s the perfect bra to wear underneath every garment. It’s beautiful and luxurious but lays flat so it can be paired with any top or dress. “I love when my Gramercy bra peeks out a little, because its sexy and the eyelash lace gives it the perfect touch of glamour.”
I also thought both styles were a hit, but was the biggest fan of the Chelsea bra. I hoped that my 32Gs would fit in a 34 F, but sadly, I was just out of the size range. (I'm secretly hoping for an expansion to Gs!) I did like the snugness of the fit and with some wear realized I absolutely loved the push-up aspect! Often in larger cup sizes you don't see any sort of push-up and I liked that this bra had some oomph!
Described as elegant, edgy, and practical for everyday wear, all three bras of the first and second collection represent the brand's homebase of New York. As a New Yorker, I concur! The bras are made of high quality materials, including 100% silk and American-made Leavers lace, and have a certain sophistication that resonates with me. With bras retailing at $95, panties at $25, and loungewear at $145, Ampere demonstrates quality and value.
Not only does the brand have value, but also values as evidenced through its partnership with the non-profit, Free the Girls. Ampere customers are able to include gently used bras when they return their additional sizes and the bras are donated to the organization. Free the Girls offers economic empowerment to women rescued from sex trafficking. The bras provide starting inventory so that those women can have their own business selling the bras in the thriving second-hand clothing industry overseas. “We decided to reach out to Free the Girls, because we love what the organization stands for and we want to help young women all over the world feel empowered and independent through lingerie,” say Jiabei and Yun Ah. “Since we already include a pre-paid return label with every order, we thought it would be a great opportunity for our customers to clean out their lingerie drawers and donate to a great cause! We are extremely excited about this partnership.” Now women can not only look good and feel good, but also give back.
Readers, what are your favorite pieces in the Ampere collection? How do you like the concept of the Home Try On Program? Let us know your thoughts and what you order!
All photos courtesy of Ampere
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