If there’s a fashion market segment that has soared unexpectedly throughout the recession, it’s vintage-inspired lingerie. Everything old is hot again.
Whether it’s bullet bras or burlesque styles, girdles or granny panties, niche labels like What Katie Did and Secrets In Lace are riding a new-old wave that shows no sign of petering out in 2011.
The latest in this parade of vintage passionistas is The Loved One, whose charming debut collection (it launches this Friday) harkens back to a relatively untapped source for style inspiration — campy 1960s B-movies and the raunchy babes who starred in them.
Yes, adult cult classics like The Bed and How To Make It, Fuego and Sin in the Suburbs are about to enjoy a rebirth as chic lingerie pieces courtesy of The Loved One, which is itself named for a 1960s flick.
Designers Hannah Metz and Elvia Lahman actually started TLO in 2009 as a fashion curating and consulting business that sourced authentic vintage fashions for retailers, and they still maintain an Etsy shop filled with such treasures. Last year, however, the pair decided to take their passion for vintage lingerie to a whole new level.
You may recall The Loved One from an earlier article that documented their efforts to raise capital to kickstart a vintage-inspired lingerie label through public donations. Not only was that campaign successful (and sure, we’ll take a bit of credit for promoting the cause!) but the label’s first offerings indicate it was money wisely investment.
The debut collection is small but distinctive — five mix-and-match pieces that combine new and recycled fabrics to create that retro feel. The sheer, smoky-grey Fuego top (above) looks like it was made for screen icon Jane Russell, while the high-waisted Sin in the Suburbs panty will probably end up hanging from a few lampshades soon, if you catch my meaning.
On the surface, the TLO team make an unlikely duo. They met when both worked at American Apparel in L.A., where Elvia was Hannah’s boss. With 15 years of experience in vintage fashion for brands like American Rag and Urban Outfitters, Elvia (who, in ladylike fashion, declines to tell us her age) began scavenging for fabric samples as child in “old-timey Mexico” and actually ran her own line of intimates years ago.
It wasn’t until Hannah moved to New York that their friendship blossomed into a business partnership based on their mutual obsession with all-things-ancient. Living on opposite coasts didn’t deter the women from making their vintage wholesale company thrive, due mainly to loads of communication, and today they still manage to run a small label from two different time zones!
Can’t wait to get your hands on these pieces? Well, the wait is almost over.
The Loved One’s online shop will be launching a pre-sale on Jan. 14, just in time for your Valentine’s Day spree. For those vintage lingerie enthusiasts who have been waiting patiently to hear this news, I know the word elated doesn’t even come close to describing your anticipation!
Below we have a little sneak peek of what to expect from this semi-naughty, super playful line. I think you’ll agree that while the styles may evoke a time in which your grandmother lived, these sure aren’t your grandma’s undies.
That’s Hannah in the photo below, modeling some of the new TLO collection. Keep scrolling to read Hannah and Elvia’s responses to our Bright Young Things questionnaire.
Our prediction? After a ton of hard work, sweat and tears, The Loved One and its many fans and supporters are about to earn a whole lotta love indeed.
How long have you been in business?
We started TLO in October 2009.
Were you profitable in 2010?
2010 was spent putting time and money into the company; we’re hoping 2011 will be profitable!
How many people are employed by your label?
Just the two of us!
What plans do you have for new products/collections in 2011?
We’re starting the new year with our debut collection of lingerie. We’re presently working on a second collection including a few pieces of day attire that we’re incredibly excited about!
How do you hope/plan to grow your business in 2011?
We’d love to see our line in a few select retail locations this coming year. As well, we’ll continue to work towards our ultimate goal which is to have our very own brick-and-mortar shops.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in launching your label?
Finances! Our bank accounts are as exhausted as we are!
What is your most popular design or product?
We’ve yet to release our collection for sale but judging from the reaction we’ve received so far for our upcoming line it looks like our Sin in the Suburbs panty is going to be a hit.
Business-wise, what are you most proud of?
Actually starting a business! It’s been a dream of both of ours for quite some time, so to see it finally realized is such a treat.
How will you define success for yourself?
The ability to continue to work on the things we love.