Home / How They Did: 12 Lingerie Start-Ups That Tried Crowdfunding Campaigns
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SECOND IN A SERIES

Crowdfunding campaigns come in all shapes and sizes, with different purposes and personalities.

They can be playful and engaging or serious and urgent: Save the planet by supporting my bamboo sock company!

What they all have in common, and what allows you to evaluate their relative merits, are The Pitch and The Perks.

The Pitch is the brand’s story, the appeal to friends and strangers that is hopefully compelling enough to convince you to click the ‘Donate’ button.

The Perks are the ‘Donor Rewards’ that incentivize viewers to invest. They’re often the best thing about crowdfunding campaigns and the reason total strangers browse sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo religiously just to see what kinds of clever, one-of-a-kind treats are available.

As we reported yesterday, numerous lingerie and underwear start-ups have found success through crowdfunding sites, even if they didn’t always get the money they were hoping for.

Below, we’ve put together a list of a dozen recent campaigns in this industry, showing how they fared and what sets them apart from the others. We’ve included links to each of the campaigns mentioned. If you’re thinking of trying this yourself, do some homework and check out these efforts — a few of which are exceptionally well done.

Then ask yourself: if I had the cash, which of these appeals would work on me?

Crowdfunding_Ampere_1

Ampere NYC
New York
Seeking:
$15,000 (KS)
Status: Ongoing
Funders/Raised: 206/$19,619
Deadline: Nov. 14
The Need: To pay for production of second collection.
The Pitch (1): Co-founder Jiabei Chen is a Harvard grad who quit her corporate law practice to start Ampere. That alone makes for a compelling story, which she documents in her blog Quitters Are Winners.

Ampere presents itself as a fit- and style-conscious e-commerce operation that offers 28 bra sizes and (like True & Co.) will ship multiple sizes to customers, who only pay for the ones that fit. A small collection of black pieces debuted earlier this year; the current campaign will fund an expanded range with nude colorways.

Ampere reached its fundraising goal with more than a week to spare. So what’s the incentive for anyone to give now? The company announced all additional money raised will be used to add a black silk chemise to the new collection — at a special discount price for new donors.

The Pitch (2): Ampere has partnered with international bra recycling charity Free The Girls, and invites customers to send their used bras back with their Ampere returns. Donated bras will eventually support women entrepreneurs in Africa.

Best Donor Reward: Private Bra Party for 10

Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding_Trace-2

Trace Underwear
New York
Seeking:
$10,000 (KS)
Status: Completed, Nov. 2013
Funders/Raised: 154/$10,226
The Need: To pay for brand launch.

The Pitch (1):
Two New Yorkers used crowdsourcing to survey women about what they hate, and want, in basic underwear. The result: simple, streamlined cuts in breathable stretch cotton without bands that pinch. Their first collection will include two styles in six sizes, all under $10.

The Pitch (2): Don’t you wish you could start a business with your best friend? Co-founders Alexsis and Jasmine met as interns at a publishing company and connected through their “feminist, pro-woman politics and love for window shopping on their lunch breaks.” Then they started comparing notes about their dissatisfaction with the lingerie industry. You want them to succeed, don’t you?

Best Donor Reward: A job on the Trace creative team as “executive consultant” and acknowledgment as a company co-founder.

Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding_Bizarre-Boudoir

Bizarre Boudoir
Philadelphia
Seeking:
$4,000 (KS)
Status: Completed, Sept. 2012
Funders/Raised: 61/$4,025
The Need: Purchase of new sewing machine and supplies for BB’s next collection.

The Pitch: Self-taught Philly corset-maker Nicole Manning was looking to take BB to “the next level” after 4 years of growing a business based on bespoke Victorian longline corsets.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, BB made a huge shift into leather boudoir pieces inspired by — get this! — Victorian, Bedouin and Native American historical costuming. Wildly original … and unexpected.

Best Donor Reward: Designer sketch prints, vintage postcards.

Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding_Davyl_1

Davyl Lingerie & Swimwear
Belgium
Seeking:
$4,000 (IGG)
Status: Ongoing
Funders/Raised: 1/$60
Deadline: Nov. 14
The Need: To “create buzz” by advertising on social media.

The Pitch: This new Belgian luxury label promises to give 20% of your donations to charities that support “women, children and injured people during war conflicts.” Something lost in translation here, perhaps?

Best Donor Reward: Belgian beer and chocolates

Indiegogo Campaign

Crowdfunding_Nais

Nais
Brooklyn
Seeking:
$7,000 (KS)
Status: Completed, Jan. 2013
Funders/Raised: 62/$7,318
The Need: To produce 100 pieces of each style in S/S 2013 collection.

The Pitch:
This “urban craft” lingerie brand launched in 2012 with a made-in-USA ethic and French design sensibility. It found a market with its eco-values and lifestyle appeal to “exceptionally unconventional women” seeking unique loungewear looks.

Nais has grown steadily since its launch but, like many start-ups, needed capital to grow its operations and pay for future inventory.

Best Donor Reward: A spotlight feature about you on the company website.

Kickstarter Campaign

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Karolina Laskowska
England
Seeking:
£3,000 (IGG)
Status: Completed, July 2013
Funders/Raised: 94/£3,020
The Need: To pay for manufacturing of her fall collection.

The Pitch: Still in university, this young design star couldn’t keep up with the surprising growth of her indie brand launched in 2012. Sewing everything herself, she sometimes had to close her online shop due to volume of orders. Funding would allow outsourcing of production at a Polish factory, “giving you far better opportunities to actually buy my designs.”

Best Donor Reward: Hand-made “mystery” knickers

Indiegogo Campaign

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Thinx
New York
Seeking:
$50,000 (KS)
Status: Completed, March 2013
Funders/Raised: 694/$64,811
The Need: To pay for brand launch.

The Pitch (1): Three NYC girlfriends went to a wedding in India and one day started talking about their periods. Then they started thinking about similar challenges faced by impoverished women in developing countries … and Thinx was born.

There’s massive buzz around this brand, which launched this summer with the oft-used slogan “Change you underwear, change the world,” and which may actually deliver on that ambitious commitment.

Thinx creates technical, leak-proof panties which claim to be “the most thoughtful underwear in your drawer”. Why? Because Thinx partnered with Uganda-based AFRIpads, which makes washable, re-usable cloth menstrual pads aimed at the tens of millions of women in developing countries who can’t afford or access sanitary products. For every pair of Thinx undies sold, the company funds the production of 7 AFRIpads — thereby creating jobs, reducing waste, and impacting women’s health. There’s an appealing symmetry to this pitch, since it means that both their North American customers and the beneficiaries of their charitable work get to enjoy more comfortable periods.

Thinx put together an elaborate Kickstarter campaign that included must-have branded accessories like tote bags and sunglasses and even a ‘celebrity’ style designed by trendy womenswear label Naven.

The Pitch (2): Thinx launched a second crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo only a week after its hugely successful Kickstarter effort, partly because KS doesn’t allow cause-based fundraising and Thinx wanted a chance to tell the full story behind their inspired business plan.

The second campaign also blew through its fundraising goal, and gave the Thinx team more leeway to showcase their charitable work. If there was a Nobel Prize for underwear (and why ISN’T there?!), Thinx would be a leading contender.

Best Donor Reward:
For $1,000, attend co-founders dinner party in NYC with funny man Aasif Mandvi. Or for $4,900, have a signature style named after you.

Kickstarter Campaign
Indiegogo Campaign

Crowdfunding_League-2

The League of Ladies
Brooklyn
Seeking:
$3,000 (KS)
Status: Completed, May 2013
Funders/Raised: 210/$7,198:
The Need: Finalize designs and first print run.

The Pitch: This cute idea from Brooklyn visual arts student Shelly Ni involved screen-printing American Apparel cotton undies with original artwork depicting “female superheroes”. The first series includes cartoon figures inspired by Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart and Frida Kahlo, and a League of Ladies zine is sent out with each order.

Best Donor Reward: Go on a “superhero mission” to find accessories at the non-profit Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store.

Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding_Knix_3

Knix Wear
Toronto
Seeking:
$40,000 (IGG)
Status: Completed, June 2013
Funders/Raised: 518/$60,450
The Need: Startup capital.

The Pitch: Founder Joanna Griffiths won the $20,000 first prize at INSEAD business school for her vision of stylish incontinence panties, and used the money for extensive market research and development of Fresh Fix Technology used in Knix Wear products.

Knix Wear’s campaign was distinctive in that it targeted retailers as much as individual customers. The company got great press during its campaign (including here), which eventually led to an order from Hudson’s Bay, Canada’s largest department store chain.

Best Donor Reward: Retailer display kits that included full range of products at wholesale prices.

Indiegogo Campaign

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Relique
Brooklyn
Seeking:
$4,500 (KS)
Status: Completed, Jan. 2013
Funders/Raised: 43/$4,570
The Need: To pay for exhibit fees at NYC trade show.

The Pitch: Rhode Island pals Kait and Chelsea had been selling their hand-dyed lingerie pieces on Etsy and found fans around the world. Growing their brand meant introducing it to the larger retail market, which converges on trade shows during Fashion Week in New York twice a year.

They’ve since participated in two seasons of trade shows and their fashion-forward collections have been picked up by important boutiques like Azaleas, Faire Frou Frou and Lille.

Best Donor Reward: Hand-dyed scarf and friendship bracelet.

Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding_TLO

The Loved One
New York / L.A.
Seeking:
$4,000 (KS)
Status: Completed, Oct. 2010
Funders/Raised: 135/$4,814
The Need: To pay for brand launch.

The Pitch: Offering a small line of vintage-inspired lingerie, The Loved One was an early entry into the crowdfunding game, and an instructive one for those who followed. Have a look at their list of expenses, which includes a $500 miscellaneous category that covers “mistakes”.

The endlessly charming TLO went on to open an L.A. boutique filled with recycled womenswear and their own apparel creations. Today, it’s less of a brand than a kind of home base for young women with a fondness for pop culture and sly dreams of wearing super-sexy granny panties under their princess dresses.

Best Donor Reward: For $300 in 2010, you could have got an original artwork by Landon Metz, the talented abstract painter and husband of TLO co-founder Hannah Metz. Picasso’s early patrons bragged about stuff like this.

Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding_Bold

Bold Beneath
Los Angeles
Seeking:
$14,165 (IGG)
Status: Unsuccessful, April 2013
Funders/Raised: 44/$3,493
The Need: To pay for production of 6,000 pairs.

The Pitch:
A visit to a homeless shelter inspired this well-intentioned campaign. BB pledged to donate one pair of its new underwear to a homeless youth for every one sold. Each pair was printed with the complicated slogan “Who you are beneath is all of who you are” and came with a wrist band that was “an outer symbol representing the belief that worth comes from beneath.”

This campaign tried to use underwear as a way of acknowledging the basic humanity in society’s most desperate people, but instead it became a lesson in the difficulties of using crowdfunding for social causes. This could have been the beginning of a PACT-style poverty-fighting fashion label, but alas BB wasn’t well planned and is nowhere to be found today.

Best Donor Reward: The usual product discounts, although the idea of earning “rewards” for helping homeless kids is itself a bit unsettling.

Indiegogo Campaign

Crowdfunding_Play-Out-1

Play-Out
New York
Seeking:
$50,000 (KS)
Status: Unsuccessful, May 2013
Funders/Raised: 160/$11,142
The Need: To purchase fabric for first collection.

The Pitch:
Gender-neutral, lesbian-inspired women’s underwear modeled after men’s boxer briefs, with bold prints and a thick elastic waistband (but no cup or Y-front).

There’s a good story behind this cool idea, which began when co-founders Abby Sugar and Sylvie Lardeux complained about having to do laundry so often because they didn’t have enough undies. And they didn’t like what was out there: “Too skimpy,¬†too lacy, too girly, too frilly, too flowery, too pink, too pastel.”

The pair put together a business plan for Play-Out but are a classic example of what happens if you set your crowdfunding goal too high: they attracted lots of attention and donors, but couldn’t reach the $50,000 target they set for themselves.

Lesson learned, Play-Out plowed ahead and has a second collection already in the works.

Best Donor Reward: For $1,000, design your own graphic print.

Kickstarter Campaign

NEXT: 10 Tips For A Killer Campaign

Posted in Lingerie Trends

One Response to “How They Did: 12 Lingerie Start-Ups That Tried Crowdfunding Campaigns”

  1. Allison says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t list Urbanist’s campaign for cycling underwear. They had a goal of $25K and raised over $64K! They had two retro-inspired styles of panties with a chamois (padded insert) that gives a bit more comfort for those of us who ride our bikes to and from work!

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cguzman/urbanist-cycling-chamois-panties

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