Designer Spotlight: NOE Undergarments
“NOE Undergarments is about creative expression through intimate apparel, encouraging confidence by bringing the visible rise of innerwear to the forefront of a woman’s personal style.”
As we get closer to the Lingerie Collective’s NYC Show, we will have several exclusive features showcasing the brands and designers exhibiting at this luxury lingerie trade show. This week, we want to give our readers a closer look at the creative duo behind NOE Undergarments — Bonnie Rae and Shelah Jean.
In this Q&A, we learn more about the designers, how the brand started and what buyers can expect to see from NOE at the Collective this August. Please enjoy the following Q&A and mark your calendars to visit NOE at the Lingerie Collective from August 4 – 6, 2013 at 320 Studios (320 West 37th St 14th Floor) — a ten minute walk from Jacob Javits Center.
Bonnie, Shelah, thanks so much for taking the time to sit with us for this Q&A. With NOE Undergarments exhibiting at the upcoming Lingerie Collective NYC show, we want to gain more insight into your brand to share with our readers. Could you tell us a little bit about what NOE is all about?
NOE Undergarments is about creative expression through intimate apparel, encouraging confidence by bringing the visible rise of innerwear to the forefront of a woman’s personal style. The brand is found on the beauty of opposites attracting to create combinations that one would not expect…mixing of quaintness with rawness, masculinity with femininity, softness with roughness and fluidity with structure. We grew up on the simple island of Kauai, living in bikinis and cover-ups for most of our existence…you will notice this “freedom” with our designs, we have no restrictions except that of unneeded frills or elements, we keep things very progressively simple.
The Spring / Summer 2014 collection is our second season for the label. You will see with this collection stays very true to the aesthetic identity of NOE…a fusion of progressive shapes, advanced fabrications and unaltered pure minimalism that creates a collection of innerwear that demands to be exposed.
“We’re very much perfectionists and love being involved in every step of design to development to manufacturing and having this all be done in the US allows us to be very active and hands on in every process.”
Your photo campaign for AW13 conveyed a sense of energy and motion which, to us, ties into what NOE is about – encouraging sensual expression. Could you expand a little on this concept?
Our NOE Undergarment AW13 imagery was what we like to say a feeling of “determination”. We aimed to show a sense of expression that exuded total confidence, freedom and a challenge the norm. Our collection is sexy and forward, however our images don’t necessarily “pose” to portray that, rather for AW13 we had ‘CONFIDENCE’ on every mood board and imagery inspiration wall… I think that is what we got, a woman being confident and feeling sexy for her. We can’t wait for to show our new SS14 imagery…same confidence with a bold attitude in whole new progressive NOE Undergarment way!
How did you two come to decide on the name for NOE Undergarments?
We often get this question and love telling the story. “NOE” (pronounced no-ay) was a name we loved since we were younger, it’s a somewhat popular name in Hawaii and has both Hawaiian and French origin where it means “pure, peace, simplicity”. We would tell each other whomever has a girl first gets to name her Noe, well, neither of us have a daughter so this is our baby girl! “Undergarments” was chosen as we feel it has a bit of a masculine and raw feel to it, it doesn’t seem too perfect…which is what were about.
It’s great to see more brands made here in the States. NOE Undergarments’ creative development, designing and manufacturing is all done here in the USA. Could you tell us a bit why you two decided to keep the design and manufacturing process here in the US?
Yes, we love being able to handle many of the elements of the NOE Undergarment label here in the states. We feel it’s important to do what can be done here…it’s something that has always been relevant to us as designers. We’re very much perfectionists and love being involved in every step of design to development to manufacturing and having this all be done in the US allows us to be very active and hands on in every process.
Both of you have a background and experience in the swimwear world, could you tell us how that influences your work on NOE? Can you talk a bit about the materials used in the collection that have a connection to swimwear?
We both come from a swimwear background both personally and in our careers. Being raised on the island of Kauai we literally grew up in bikinis. This stemmed an interest in swim from an early age. We worked in the swim world prior to starting NOE Undergarments and feel much of our innerwear meets outerwear aesthetic is based around swim style concepts– interesting strapping, unique seam details, mixing of fabrications, directional silhouettes. We use some special Lycra/Polyamide blends from Belgium that are very “sporty” and swim inspired, they allow for more coverage in certain styles to encourage exposure.
Above: NOE Undergarments founders Bonnie Rae and Shelah Jean at work.
“We co-design the collections and we both play a part in many aspects of the business. – Bonnie Rae”
Could you tell us a little bit about your team and what areas of the business you two are primarily involved in? As sisters, what’s it like working together?
We have a lovely team that runs the day to day of NOE Undergarments, just the two of us! Being twins one would think we’re naturally close but that is almost an understatement. We’re incredibly tight and have been our whole lives…. we finish each others sentences, think often very alike, love very similar things in life, however we do have our own unique and slightly different style. This is where we the yin plays to the yang! We co-design the collections and we both play a part in many aspects of the business. Shelah is a bit more involved in the creative/design side and Bonnie is more involved in the day-to-day business side.
Shelah: “Bonnie keeps us organized and focused. She can take a concept that I’ve developed and really create it through making a strategy around it and keeping us to it.”
Bonnie: “Shelah is definitely the more creative one, she usually has a heavier hand in the design process and I enjoy taking the vision to the next level through the different marketing aspects.”
Bella Bella Boutique, has a feature on their blog called, “Ready-to-Wear Vs. Lingerie” – a lovely ongoing post highlighting how consumers can coordinate. intimates with their day-to-day apparel or vice versa. It’s beautifully done and inspires lingerie addicts to get creative with their wardrobe. NOE Undergarments inspires that same wardrobe creativity with your ready-to-wear inspired options. Could you tell us about this side of NOE?
With our collections we really focus on making our undergarments wearable pieces… we definitely play into the innerwear meets outerwear concept. Not every piece will be worn accented into a RTW look, however as we’re designing the collection we design so women buying these pieces will want to show them…they’re stunning! With that, we have made design decisions to add elements that encourage exposing certain pieces. Our bodysuits are all designed to be either stand alone bedroom statement makers, layering pieces or actual RTW inspired styles.
We both wear our bodysuits often with jeans or boy-fit trousers… they really can be utilized as a RTW piece or hidden intimate piece. We encourage our bras to be seen through layering and exposing little sneak bits here and there, but of course a bustier bra under a jacket is always a fabulous thing! All our slips have multi-purpose uses and we’ve even seen the silk Alfie Slip used even as a bikini cover-up! Truly, it’s about breaking the conventional way of looking at innerwear…if you have the confidence you can wear our collection in any fashion you like, at NOE Undergarments we simply want to encourage that!
“Women of today are embracing innerwear meets outerwear, the Media is embracing innerwear meets outerwear and now you are starting to see this at the retail level.”
Retailers, especially brick-and-mortar retailers, could leverage your intimate and RTW offerings with some creative merchandising. Would you have any tips for our retail readers on how to showcase your collection in this way?
Merchandising is so important! Where we sit as a brand can be a fun challenge as some retailers “don’t carry undergarments” and others “don’t carry RTW pieces” and NOE Undergarments is truly a hybrid. Women of today are embracing innerwear meets outerwear, the Media is embracing innerwear meets outerwear and now you are starting to see this at the retail level. Breaking the conventional way of keeping lingerie isolated in retail stores seems like it could start to change. We would love to see a retail partner pair one of our bustier bras under a suit jacket and leather shorts… how stellar would that be? Traveling in Europe you see more of this, you can see a high-end fashion boutique incorporating beautiful lingerie into their RTW offering, often on the same rack. Similarly, we now see boutique retail stores that would have never thought of carrying swimwear start to carry swimwear and they merchandise it with RTW. They’re making it a lifestyle look. We think this is a key element with lingerie merchandising as well, including lingerie into a fashion “lifestyle” look where it’s inspirational.
We’re less than a month away from the summer trade shows. Could you tell us a little bit about what you’ll be showing at the upcoming Lingerie Collective this August?
Yes, we’re very excited to be showing at the Lingerie Collective this August in NYC. We’ll be launching our Spring / Summer 2014 collection which stays very true to the innovative simplicity that we developed with our premiere AW13 line. The SS14 collection builds upon our label’s signature capsules – The Ryan, Edward, Oliver, Alfie, Zachary and Peter.
We’ve infused fresh silhouettes and colorways into each– a neo-gypsy inspired Wrap fabricated from silk georgette has been introduced into the eccentric Alfie Collection, while Edward goes to new (knee) lengths with an updated Edward Short Legging. Sport-inspired Oliver goes one step further with the introduction of a progressive, high neckline, open back Sports Bra marked by the signature NOE “T back” silhouette, with a matching bikini-cut inspired Sports Brief. In the Peter Collection, a relaxed Romper is introduced in lightweight mesh, while a pencil skirt-inspired Slip takes form from tight-weave stretch mesh. The Ryan Bustier Bra is returning in both new fresh silk charmeuse colorwasy as well as the introduction of a new White Lambskin Leather version. We’ve added a sister-silhouette in the Ryan group — the Ryan Zip-Back Corset that is offered in both silk charmeuse as well as our favorite statement making White Lambskin. The collection is very exciting and fresh, we can’t wait to share it with our retail partners and future retail partners!
“We believe our retailers are so much more than a place selling NOE, they’re a true extension of our brand and we aim to develop quality relationships with these amazing partners.”
What can a retailer ordering NOE expect? What can their customers expect?
We hope that every one of our retail partners get’s not only amazing, top quality product but also stellar customer service and attention to all details. We believe our retailers are so much more than a place selling NOE, they’re a true extension of our brand and we aim to develop quality relationships with these amazing partners. We want to know if something is working really well or possibly is not, we love open communication and being a small label we can take this valuable insight and truly just get better and better.
With our precise attention to detail and quality we hope to build a customer base that loves the label for progressive designs but also quality and attention to the smallest detail. With the SS14 being our second season we have worked on truly perfecting fits and staying consistent so our customer base knows our fit. We work off a 1,2,3,4 size scale as our styles/fabrications are very accommodating and allow for ease in fit. This is beneficial for our retailers and customers alike.
The AW13 Collection will be shipping starting July 15th, we truly cannot wait to get the product in store! The SS14 Collection will be shipping in early Spring starting March 1st. However, we do and will work with our partners for special circumstances if other ship dates are needed.
For all of our readers that want to learn more about NOE Undergarments, who should they call to learn about wholesale information?
You can learn more about NOE Undergarments at www.noeundergarments.com
For direct wholesale inquiries please email email@example.com or call us at 949.933.2267
How can they make an appointment to see you at the Lingerie Collective NYC?
To make an appointment to see us at the Lingerie Collective, August 4-6 in NYC please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us directly at 949.933.2267
Read our report on NOE Undergarment’s AW13 Collection HERE.
Lingerie Collective NYC Show Dates
When: August 4th – 6th, 2013
Where: 320 Studios (320 West 37th St 14th Floor)