Bright Young Things: Journelle's Emerging Designers Program
All photos by Jennifer Massaux. Some photos may be NSFW.
"Young designers breathe vital freshness into the lingerie industry, but the intricate nature of the product they're making means simply getting off the ground is a challenge. Our Emerging Designer program is designed to give the most talented emerging designers a platform to showcase their talent and introduce them to our loyal base of lingerie lovers." - Claire Chambers
One of the things that makes me feel the most pessimistic about the future of the traditional brick-and-mortar lingerie boutique is their frequent reliance (dare I say overreliance) on what's safe and predictable over what's interesting. The retail landscape is a sea of contour bras from big labels with the occasional directional style thrown in. Instead of leading the way for what's trendy and exciting, many boutiques have started to resemble department stores in everything but name, showcasing the same brands in the same styles and the same colors. The net result? "New, exciting lines are passed over in favor of sure things."
However, there's one lingerie boutique that's making a point to buck that trend. In an environment that seems to be trending toward stagnation, Journelle is investing in the lifeblood of the intimate apparel industry --- the independent designers.
Right on the heels of successfully launching their in-house designed Journelle Collection, the world-famous, NYC-based luxury lingerie boutique Journelle is debuting another new venture: a pilot program for independent designers aptly named the Emerging Designers Program.
While this year's cohort represents the first class in an official program, Journelle has been a longtime supporter of new and independent designers. They were the first stockists for the Canadian loungewear brand Dear Bowie. They've carried smaller, lesser known names like Salua, Sapphire Bliss, All Undone, and Madame Aime. And they've established themselves as the place to see what's new and next in the world of lingerie. So it's exciting to watch Journelle extend their reputation even further in this direction and use their cachet as an industry heavyweight to put four neophyte and contemporary designers front and center in a new campaign. These designers are wildly talented, and getting that first big break can mean everything.
The four designers in this year's class are designers are Le Petit Trou, Paloma Casile, Prae, and Mise En Cage. Of the four names, Prae is the only one I haven't heard of before, and I take that to be a good sign as it means Journelle is reaching beyond typical intimate apparel industry circles to find those new and interesting brands.
I asked the team at Journelle a few questions about this new program in an exclusive interview below. Keep scrolling to read why they chose these labels, where you can buy, and how to apply if you happen to be a lingerie designer.
- Why the Emerging Designers program? Why is Journelle a good fit for this kind of program, and why launch it now?
We've always been committed to presenting curated mix of both established and emerging brands. Our customers --- many of which are lingerie connoisseurs in their own right --- expect this from us, and part of loving lingerie is the discovery of something new, something just for you that you love, something that's maybe harder to find --- making it a bit more special. Since we've always loved that discovery process and seen first-hand what increased exposure can do for a brand, we wanted to solidify a more permanent way to bring awareness to these brands by using our engaged audience and marketing platforms. Why now? There's so much happening in the lingerie industry right now --- with design, with how women (and marketing) talk about and approach lingerie and also with how women are wearing lingerie and the whole innerwear as outerwear trend --- so this felt like a good time to recommit in a bigger way to nurturing the up + coming brands. Ideation and fresh perspective are so important to the vitality of an industry.
- Why these four labels in particular? What do they bring to the Journelle brand? And what stood out to the Journelle team when making the final selections?
We saw so many new brands that interested us, but we wanted to launch with a tightly edited class that had a bit of everything --- lingerie, loungewear, bold, feminine, sexy, lovely and a range of price points. Each member of the team that put together this program really felt strongly about these four designers and that each brought something truly unique to the program and to Journelle. For example, Prae designs bralet tops --- no bottoms --- that do double duty as crop tops and are meant to be shown taking peek-a-boo to the next level. Her tops, which are so luxe and lovely, make the customer think of the bralet as part of your wardrobe, which is in-line with what is happening trend-wise in the industry. Both Mise en Cage and Paloma Casile have this super elevated luxury component to each piece that's evident in both craftsmanship and the designers' pedigree, yet both are truly unique and have a bold edge to them that can be difficult to find at that level. Le Petit Trou's bottoms are so cheeky, so feminine and so beautifully packaged we couldn't resist. We'd never fallen so hard for a panty line before --- sort of did away with the strict "sets only" rule we sometimes impose on ourselves. With both LPT and Prae, shoppers are forced to think outside the box; approach lingerie in a new way.
- How long will their pieces be in stores? And are they available online as well as brick and mortar? Yes items are online and in our flagship in Union Square and will be through the end of the year. Shop here: http://www.journelle.
- If the collaboration goes well, is there any chance of bringing these 4 brands on permanently? Potentially!
- Is this an ongoing program or a one-time thing? And, if so, how often will it happen? We plan to offer the program annually kicking off in August/September each year with showcases in our flagship, and a digital rollout including behind-the-scenes coverage of the designers, interviews, dedicated emails and social content, etc. We hope to see the class grow next year.
- How can an interested brand reach out to you if they'd like to be considered? Interested brands can reach out to our Marketing Director; [email protected]. We scout brands at Curve + Salon International de la Lingerie in Paris. We'll begin taking submissions in December.
As someone who's forever seeing new brands that never quite make it into stores, this program is incredibly exciting to me. I hope Journelle both continues and extends its scope in the future. After all, indies are the future of lingerie design.
What do you think of Journelle's Emerging Designers Program and the four labels they've started with? Does it matter to you when a lingerie boutique brings in newer or less well-known names?