My first exposure to Nina and The Wolf lingerie was via an email from one of the founders of this indie Italian brand.
There's never a shortage of news from lingerie brands in my Inbox. But this particular email was hard to ignore. First, it's always fascinating to learn about lingerie start-ups. Second, there's something about their exquisite designs that's both fiercely seductive and timeless. Third, I was curious to know the story behind the brand name.
Made in Italy, Nina and The Wolf pieces are, and at the moment, available only in smaller sizes. And even though I can't wear it, I'm still in awe of what two young, fearless women are building from their passion, imagination, and obvious love of lingerie.
Here's my email interview with co-founder Gaia Sormani, along with images from their past two collections, Tortuga (the turquoise) and On The Hunt (the black). For more, visit their website here.
How long has the brand been in business and what was the impetus for launch:
It all started almost three years ago with a catch-up chat in a bakery in London while we were eating flourless chocolate cake. We started talking about women, lingerie, and style. Having both always been very eclectic with our style, our jobs and our lives in general, we wanted to create a brand that could embrace all of that. We're both very young but with a fierce attitude towards life so we didn’t think twice and we embarked on this big adventure.
Marta Rovatti and Gaia Sormani Founders, Nina and The Wolf
Gaia has lingerie in her DNA: she is the third generation of women in lingerie in her family and she couldn’t be prouder! This is why lingerie was a natural choice for her. Since she was five years old she knew that this was her calling and always worked very hard to get in the industry. After graduating from The University of Edinburgh with an MSc in Management, and working for several years for some of the best up and coming lingerie brands in London and Italy as well as working for Sweetface by Jennifer Lopez in NYC, she decided to move back home and start her lifelong dream: Nina and The Wolf. She has always known this was her path and now is very excited to finally pursue it.
Marta decided to follow her passion for photography and heritage of a family history. After a degree in Design, she moved to London to graduate from the MA in Photography at the University of Westminster. Alongside her Fine Art practice, she worked with various fashion photographers. Today she’s working in Milan as a freelance photographer. Her pictures have been published in The New York Times, Vogue.it and Grazia and since 2013 her photographs are auctioned by Sotheby’s.
What makes Nina and The Wolf different? What’s the lingerie niche you are trying to fill?
Our brand focuses on the idea that each and every woman has a multitude of souls and that the best thing that she can do is to embrace each and every one of them. Nina is the romantic side of every woman, the sweet and dreamy part that we all have. The Wolf, her alter-ego and soul animal, is a woman’s sensual and untamed side; the wild and the provocative. Both souls reside in every woman, and restricting to one would simply suppress a part of who we are. Nina and The Wolf want to be there for all of those women that switch between sweet and sexy without fear and that do not want to be restricted to a label.
When we picked the name we had our philosophy clear in our minds. We knew it was “The One” but it was breaking all the rules of branding and marketing. It was too long, didn’t have any tie to the product, was hard to remember and… on top of it all, not in Italian. (So how could we push our Italian soul?) However, we believe that life is about feelings, sensations and that name was bringing us a beautiful fairytale every time we said it out loud. So we decided to go with it anyways!
Who do you see as the ideal customer for your designs?
When you start a brand you aim to pinpoint the exact target market that you are trying to tackle, but soon after we have realized that this was not only very hard but extremely restricting for our creativity, especially since our main goal is to try to satisfy every side of a woman. We focus on the product, on what we like and on what inspires us in that specific moment, without limiting ourselves to one specific customer.
If you look through our collections you will see some romantic and sweet pieces, right next to a strappy sexy item. This is exactly who we are and who we want our customers to be: women who don’t want to be restricted in a category and instead want to feel free to express their true selves each and every moment of their day.
What’s been your greatest business challenge in establishing your brand?
Budgeting for sure. The decision of producing and sourcing everything in our home country, Italy, has definitely been a great challenge in terms of costs. This has forced us to make some strategic decisions on other sides of the business such as the way we promote the brand, the choice of keeping PR internally (for the moment) as well as the decision to not work with the usual fashion seasons and instead launch a new collection when we are ready and produce very small quantities.
All of our collections are limited editions and once the stock is over it won't be reproduced. We usually have max 60 pieces per style divided in through the sizes. The only collection we are reproducing is our Classics.
We have always been adamant that we would never compromise on the quality and that, instead, we would always work on improving it.
However, the budget challenge has forced us to find creative ways to solve problems and face situations: a great training field for anyone and a good way to keep your brain active!
Is there anything you find frustrating about the lingerie business of which consumers have no clue?
It’s not something restricted to the lingerie business, but instead something that spreads in the fashion industry as a whole: the long-lost concept of quality. Fast fashion has changed a lot the perception of what is important in a garment and low price will almost always win on high standards.
However, for how much we can understand the happiness when getting something new at a bargain price, lingerie is a completely different thing. Underwear is the closest thing to your skin, to your heart, to your soul… and you should really want to keep an eye on quality, especially if you have sensitive skin or suffer from rashes. Plus, there is nothing more powerful than knowing you are wearing high quality lingerie!
Where do you want the brand to be in the next ten years?
In every man’s dream and every woman’s lingerie drawer of course! 😉
Jokes aside, at the moment, we are focusing on short-term goals, but we have a clear vision of what we want to achieve with Nina and The Wolf in the future. The hope is for it to be recognized as a leading brand in luxury lingerie, creating a niche market of people who do understand the importance of product quality. We would love to produce more collections, in slightly bigger numbers, still limited edition in order for the products to have more value and to be able to experiment with materials and design continuously.
What do you want customers to know about your brand?
All of our products---aside from our classics---are very limited edition. This means that if you own one of the pieces of our “capsule collections” you will be one of the 60 people in the world to own it! Pretty cool isn’t it?!
It’s very important for us that the customer feels special and appreciated. That is why we personalize every package we send out as well as being always available for our costumers for special requests. We really try our best to make the difference, whether that means customizing a piece or trying to meet in person with our clients for a special fitting session.
Another thing that not all of our clients know is that we organize “private lingerie parties." This can be a few hours with you and your girlfriends, in the comfort of your own place, with champagne and nibbles while trying on some luxury lingerie. On those occasions. people can buy at a special discounted price. At the moment this service is available only in the north of Italy and Switzerland.
Nina and The Wolf Recap:
Styles: Everyday lingerie and loungewear products with a little more spice in them. Mainly targeted to smaller busts and to women that are brave enough to experiment with lingerie and style.
Bra Price Range: From €50/$63 to €89/$102
Sizing: At the moment we dress mainly smaller busts, probably because Marta and I fall in that category. We are doing a few items up to a size L, fitting up to a 36B. However, we decided to focus mainly on bralettes and unpadded lingerie.
Our sizes for both padded and unpadded bras are: XS:30B, S:32B, M:34B, L:36B
Knickers: XS: 66 cm S: 70 cm M: 74cm L: 78cm (waist cm)
Where to Buy: Visit our website at www.ninaandthewolf.com. You can also buy through one of our online stockists (link here) or if you are in Milan, pop by Le Village Store right next to the Dome of Milan!