Every once in a while, the lingerie industry takes me by surprise. That was the case with my introduction to EVA Dessous.
To be honest, I had no idea that they carried swimwear, much less sporty and casual loungewear styles. It wasn't until they gifted me a set of lingerie that I got to take a closer look at the quality of their design and materials. Full disclosure, I was not paid to review this set or write this post, and all opinions are my own.
While I'm a huge fan of lace lingerie, it's always a bonus when I find a perfect fit in a more minimalist design. Their Pure Shape underwire bra, made of tulle and microfiber, compliments my Southern California writer's uniform of yoga clothes and t-shirts and jeans. The design is genuinely ageless because its structure works on either young and firm boobs--or soft and less dense 62-year-old breasts, like mine. The attention to detail on this set, like the super-soft padded hook closure and raised center gore, plus matching seamless knickers, make it a timeless addition to my lingerie wardrobe.
Think basics are boring? EVA offers women a range of lace bodysuits and basques, plus delicate bras and a variety of brief styles. And while many lingerie brands now carry loungewear, EVA gives you choices from athletic to casual, including dresses. Their bra-sized swimwear line includes one-piece, bikinis, and tankinis.
Check out some of EVA's styles, below, in my interview with Stephanie Dölker, great-granddaughter of its founder. It's inspiring to see a newer generation build on family traditions while meeting the intimate apparel needs of today's women. With EVA Lingerie, you'll find practical and pretty lingerie, loungewear for work or play, and fashionable swimwear. It covers all the bases for me!
How long has the brand been in business and what was the impetus for launch:
EVA is part of the Naturana group of companies. Naturana to this day is a family owned business. It was started in 1917 when its founder, my great-grandfather Carl Dölker, was approached by a local doctor to develop a new kind of corset that would allow women more freedom of movement while offering the support they were used to.
EVA has been in our portfolio of brands since the 1970s but had been somewhat neglected. When my two sisters and I took over from our father in 2015, we decided to re-launch EVA as it was such a gem in the portfolio. Naturana is a fantastic product that we are very proud of, but due to its nature, it is price sensitive and the options for materials are somewhat limited. With EVA we were finally able to source all the materials we ever wanted to use. We live and breathe lingerie at our HQ in Germany. We really are passionate about it. I can’t recall many dinner conversations at home when I was a child that didn’t at some point revolve around bras or swimwear. I used to hate it as a child. Now I do the same thing to my children.
What makes EVA different or unique in the lingerie or intimate apparel market? What’s the lingerie niche you are trying to fill?
We are all about comfort without having to compromise on style. I think it is entirely possible to make a bra that you can wear all day long---and even forget about---but still feel special and attractive. Great lingerie adds a layer of confidence. I feel different going into a meeting when I’m wearing the right bra even though nobody can see it. It changes my posture and my confidence. And on the other hand, a bad bra or even worse, an ill-fitting pair of pants can really ruin your day!
For me, the decision in the morning about which bra or bodysuit to go for is as important as the things I wear on top. Although I confess, like all women on a lot of days, I just go for one of my two favourite styles.
I guess we are somewhat minimalist as we go through great pains to simplify. We examine all our products with great scrutiny to see if there is anything that can be taken away without impacting the style or the function of the product. This applies to our lingerie, our loungewear and our swimwear and all our lingerie and loungewear can be mixed and matched.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we make a completely European product. All our materials and accessories are sourced in Europe and the product is manufactured in our own factory in Portugal by our very knowledgeable and experienced team, many of whom have worked for us for years.
Who do you see as your ideal customer?
Our ideal costumer is someone who knows the importance of a good bra and who likes our kind of minimalist, clean shapes. This can be a 25-year-old or an 80-year-old. In all likelihood, it is probably someone from the age of 35 upwards which is when a lot of women discover they need a little bit of support. Our customer would have her own style, not a follower of fashion, but a confident woman who knows what she wants.
What’s been your most significant business challenge in establishing your brand (other than raising funds to launch)?
The greatest challenge for us is to say no. We had a fantastic reception with the new EVA, so much better than we were expecting. But once a style works well, buyers and customers generally are keen for us to expand the size offering. We would absolutely love to give everyone exactly what they want, but for some styles, some sizes just don't work as well as we want them to. We never ever compromise on fit, and we only sell styles and sizes that we are 100% confident in.
In general, women have to jump over a bit of a hurdle to try a new lingerie brand. Much more than with t-shirts for example, they stick with who they know and trust. But luckily those who do try EVA tend to become very loyal and stick with us. They keep telling me, “Your bra is my new favourite, I am wearing it every day, in fact, I’m wearing it today!” That is worth all the stress and agony on days when you feel that it is a bit of a struggle. Those days do of course exist.
Is there anything you find frustrating about the lingerie industry of which consumers have no clue?
The lingerie industry in general is lovely, it’s like one big family. We are all very friendly. When you go to the trade show in Paris, even competitors get on really well and have friendly chats in the corridors and admire each other’s products. It also is very rewarding when you know that you can make a tiny difference to someone’s life by providing something so intimate.
But the size offering is a devil. Any one product for us can come in 22 or more different sizes, different combinations of back and cup sizes. Can you imagine what our warehouse looks like? It really is very difficult to plan ahead with so many size elements. On top of that, size requirements vary greatly from country to country. Spanish women seem to be happy with B and C cups only, but they have to be skin color. Some British stores don’t even sell bras below a D cup. Some days I do wish that my great-grandfather had decided to make t-shirts instead of bras!
Where do you want the brand to be in the next ten years?
We would like to be in a few more department stores worldwide. We are represented well in department stores and boutiques in Germany and in boutiques around the world. Independent boutiques really have been our greatest supporters and have believed in us from the start. We love working with small boutiques because we know they are as passionate about selling bras as we are about making them.
Buying lingerie online works well and our online sales have rocketed in the last moth but there is nothing like trying on a bra in a shop to experience the fit and to feel the quality of the product.
We also would like to become more sustainable. My sisters and I all have children and we feel that as a company owner you have a massive responsibility to the next generation. Not just for passing on a healthy company but also for doing as little damage to the environment as possible. This doesn’t just apply to the product you make but how you make it, how you package it, how you ship it, how you and all the employees work. A few years ago, I read “Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. That really has inspired me. I keep referring back to it and I keep distributing copies around the company. I am a bit annoying like that.
What is the one thing you want customers to know about the brand?
We really make super comfy super stylish lingerie, loungewear and swimwear! We care deeply and test our bras extensively to make sure they are as good as can be.
Customer feedback is really important to us, we want to keep learning and improving our product. If you own one of our bras and you aren’t wearing it, tell us. We would like to know why so that we can make it better, so that the next one you buy will be your favourite bra ever.
While we are part of a larger group of companies, we don’t spend much on advertising. This is the ethos that was passed down to us from our forefathers. It definitely is the harder route to take. Life would be a lot easier if we had a huge billboard campaign, but then our product would have to be more expensive and we want to be an affordable luxury.
We manufacture in our own factory and we know our seamstresses well. We work incredibly hard to make a good product. Blood sweat and tears go into it. And then some!
EVA Dessous Quick Brand Recap:
Lingerie (underwire bras, soft bras, padded or without padding, bras with removable straps, very comfortable underpants in all shapes and sizes)
Loungewear (dresses, pajamas, shorts)
Swimwear (one-pieces, bikinis, and tankinis). Modern, stylish and comfortable.
Bra Price Range: €40-€70, £36-£64, Can$82- Can$138, US$47-$80
Sizing: 32-38 backs, A-F cups but continually increasing our offerings.
Where to buy: Mostly independent boutiques and online on eva-dessous.com.
What do you think of the EVA line of lingerie, swimwear, and loungewear?