Every so often fashion’s latest it girl works underwear as an evening wear trend, leading to guaranteed media furor and endless references to Madonna in the 80s. Exposing her bra at a fashion party was the last thing on Anh Oppenheimer’s mind when “on a freezing foggy San Francisco night,” she decided it was time to revisit fashion’s most provocative trend. “My husband and I have two little kids and we were perpetually too exhausted to go out on dates. So we thought of having a Netflix date – curling up in bed and watching a movie. I wanted to dress up for the date, but when I pulled out my negligees I realized it was way too cold! My other choice was my well-worn flannel pajamas. I could be sexy or warm, but not both!”
Like every budding digital-age entrepreneur before her, Oppenheimer first trolled the internet looking for “sexy” + “warm sleepwear.” Finding nothing, she decided that night to create her own line. In time for this year’s holiday season, Snoa Lingerie launched this month. It’s elegant cut and innovative fabric design may prove the solution to every man’s ultimate gift giving dilemma – deciding to buy something sexy or wearable. I caught up with Oppenheimer recently, here’s what she had to say:
How did you go from documentary film-making to designing Lingerie?
My background is in documentary film-making, where I focused a lot on environmental and social justice issues. I know sexy lingerie seems far from this! But actually, my documentary background helped inform my commitment to be a conscious company (triple bottom line of people+planet+profit). It also gave me the nerve to just jump in and do something, without having the “proper” degree or experience.
Tell us about the unique double-fabric design you’ve designed?
We were really struggling to find a way that our lingerie-sleepwear could be comfortable as well as warm. Naturally, we didn’t want anything bulky. We found a silk-modal – modal is made from sustainably grown beech trees – we loved because it’s exquisitely soft. We were trying to pair that with bamboo fleece at first, but the two fabrics were too different from each other. We considered making the nighties from wool jersey, but hated the idea of giving up on the uber-softness of the silk modal. Finally it dawned on us to do a double layer – with the soft silk against your skin and the warm wool cocooning you from the outside. The fabric manufacturer, Enviro Fabrics, thought we were nuts! Essentially, it’s two nighties connected at a few of the seams. But we tried it, lettuced the edges of both fabrics and fell in love!
What inspired you to create an eco line?
Before I started this business, it never dawned on me that nearly everything I was wearing was dyed in an unhealthy way – that pesticides are used to grow cotton, that polyester is not good. I’ve since discovered the fashion industry creates 25 percent of the chemical waste in the world! By choosing eco-friendly fabrics, we are choosing to make a positive environmental impact. We also produce the garments locally – my business partner, Susan, has been using the same sewing contractor for years – they’re about 5 miles from the Snoa office in San Francisco. It’s such a win-win. We get to drop by any time to check on how everything is going, we know that we’re helping a bunch of people in these tough economic times, and no ships or trucks involved.
Tell us about the collection?
We have two main collections, the Basics and the Signature collection. My favorite from the Signature collection is the Hot Toddy (see below). It’s named after my husband, Todd. It’s certainly the sexiest number in the bunch! Made from organic bamboo, it has a wide collar around the back of the neck and plunging down to your heart, then trumpet flair fleece covers your wrist. It’s so warm! And so tiny! To me, it’s the perfect combination of sexy and flattering. If you’re a guy giving to your honey, the Greta Gown or Nightie (see above) is terrific. The lines are simple and flattering. Both show enough skin to please, but they’re as classy as they are romantic.
Where can I find your pieces?
Two stores are carrying Snoa Lingerie: Workshop in San Francisco and Top Drawer in Bedford, New Hampshire. We also sell our products online. Prices range from $90 to $185.00.
Can lingerie really make the world a better place?!
It’s vital that people find ways to make themselves happy. I firmly believe that the world will improve as people’s happiness improves. We have to keep our spirits up by pampering ourselves occasionally. And that means different things to different people. To be honest, I’m not much of a clothes person or a shopper. I pamper myself by reading a good mystery, drinking a glass of wine and talking with a friend – but for many people, looking good and feeling good in what you wear is a huge part of making them feel good.
The only way I know of to be 100 percent eco is to compost myself. Otherwise, I’m using resources every minute. And if I beat myself up about that, I’ll be miserable – and useless. So, I’ve got to think about what I can do that is sustainable to my life and my well being. So, if you need a nightie, buy one. Give your old ones away to a woman’s shelter. And take care of your new nightie so you don’t need to buy a new one for a while. If the new nightie makes you smile, if it makes your honey smile, if it encourages you to relax more, to bring a cup of tea to bed – all these positives add up.