If you hope to elbow your way into the crowded luxury lingerie market in Britain, you’ll need a couple of key things: a memorable name and a distinctive signature look that is instantly recognizable.
Janay Lingerie, the latest newcomer in the UK smalls scene, has both.
First, the name. Janay is an eponymous brand named for its founder Janay Eleanor. And she got the unique moniker from her “hopelessy romantic” father, who named her after an obscure but seductive 1986 song by the American soul singer Freddie Jackson. There are worse ways to enter the world.
And the design signature?
Janay‘s debut collection features tailored silhouettes in contrasting tones, but what really stands out is the brand’s use of dramatic, U-shaped centerpieces in its bras that separate the cups and create a deep neckline — and bold visual profile.
“I liked the idea of something that really draws your eye,” Janay told Lingerie Talk. “I like to have a focal point, and for everything to be completely symmetrical. Your eye follows a line that shows the contours.
“I wanted that real signature that says who the brand was.”
Janay’s centerpieces are a holdover from her graduate student collection after she completed the renowned Contour Fashion program at De Montfort University in 2010.
“On about 90% of the lingerie I own, and for a lot of smaller-chested women, the wires can be very uncomfortable,” she explained. “If you’re an A cup you don’t have to buy a bra that makes you feel like a D.”
Janay tinkered with the wired frames that create her unique décolletage and dramatic neckline until she found a way to make them “so comfortable and so unusual” for all cup sizes.
After school, Janay interned for UK brands such as Leurre and Enamore, managed a clothing store, and did a bit of cutting and pattern-making for her own designs on the side.
It was the latter that triggered Janay’s desire to start her own label. Driven by word-of-mouth recommendations, Janay began creating one-off designs for clients who appreciated her passion for tailoring and structural looks.
The title for her debut collection, Avenue 24, references both Janay’s age and the unusual research methodology behind the her brand. To get a sense of how to define her new business, Janay spent a lot of time doing something many people do privately, but with less noble purpose — undressing women with her eyes.
Visiting high-end neighborhoods in Greater London, she studied women on the street to see what makes them walk with confidence and style.
“I was walking down a lot of avenues, inspired by a lot of women. I must have walked miles and miles,” Janay said. “I spent a lot time in ultra-chic areas, especially during fashion week, to see how women dressed and what their personalities are like. I was looking at the way women move, the way they hold themselves.
“These women walked with such a sense of confidence and elegance,” she added. “Like they were not trying to be sexy, and not trying to be provocative, but they still looked amazingly alluring.”
The result of Janay’s
streetwalking research is a “delicately British” label that is quite literally “inspired by the women of London,” she said.
There are five bra-brief sets and two suspenders in the Avenue 24 collection in two hues, blossom pink and dust grey. All of Janay’s styles are numbered, rather than named.
Prices range from £65 to £145 for individual pieces. (However, the label is currently offering 20% off its debut collection for web shoppers you use the voucher code ‘SAVE20’.)
Janay is also among a growing number of UK lingerie brands that are striving — sometimes against their own commercial best interests — to offer a fully made-in-Britain product line. Her laces come from Nottinghamshire, the silks are sourced in London and components are locally based.
“I’ve got a heritage here and I really want to keep the brand true to that heritage,” Janay explained. “It’s very, very difficult to find manufacturers in the UK, but if you’re a designer and you come from here you have an obligation to promote your country’s strengths.”
Janay launched its debut collection on April 1 and is, for the time being, available only through its webshop. Keep checking back to get information about retail stockists.
Now, here are a few more looks from this sophisticated, and very British, newcomer.