Airing dirty laundry
Three twentysomethings help launch a lingerie company for women by women
Dirty Laundry is not about your normal bra and panty. The designs are provocative, and many of the styles are completely sheer. The lingerie is intended to be layered, creating an urban, edgy look. And the three women who design, execute and market the pieces are all under the age of 25.
“Because all the designers are in the young-woman age range, which is who we’re marketing to, we know what kind of lingerie we would actually want to wear,” says Sarita Lopez. At just 20 years old, she’s the youngest member of the company. “We know what’s hot and in demand for the time.”
The genesis of the company started 18 months ago, when David Sanchez had what he calls a bar-napkin idea. Why not add a clothing line to the repertoire of projects he was already involved in through his advertising company, the David George Agency?
“I never really envisioned I would be designing and manufacturing clothing,” says Sanchez, 45. “But I met a young woman who wanted to be a fashion designer, and through a chance of coincidences, we put together a design team, which became Dirty Laundry, a lingerie company.”
“Young, talented people coming up are always eager to set the world on fire,” says Sanchez about his young design team. “But there are hurdles to overcome on a daily basis. You have to maintain an infrastructure so we can do what we are telling people we want to do. But that youth works in our case because our designers are living and breathing what they are creating.”
Dirty Laundry came to exist through a series of random connections.
“I met David Sanchez two years ago at a professional marketing mixer, and we talked about me doing some possible marketing and advertising work for him,” explains Oona Sapunor-Pfaff, who is 22 years old and works as the company’s fashion stylist. “That fell through, but he kept my information and, in August 2005, contacted me about collaborating with him and two other women on a fashion project they were developing. I met with them a few weeks later, and within a month we had started to develop the clothing company into what is now—Dirty Laundry, a lingerie company.”
“I kept Oona’s number on a Post-It for two years because I was so impressed by her talent and ambition,” says Sanchez. “I knew I wanted to work with her at some point. Dirty Laundry was the perfect fit.”
Born and raised in Reno, Sapunor-Pfaff will graduate in May from the University of Nevada, Reno with a public relations degree. She’s always wanted to work in fashion and plans to move to New York City after graduation. Getting her foot in the door with Dirty Laundry was exactly the type of experience she says she needed.
“My role as the fashion stylist is to collaborate the look of each collection and individual piece,” Sapunor-Pfaff says, toying with a silver key hanging on a long chain around her neck. The key is from a hostel she stayed at in Rome, and it’s just one of many necklaces she wears. Along with her frayed jeans, red heels and loose-fitting top, Sapunor-Pfaff is the picture of an aspiring fashion designer.
“I want to make sure that all of our designs are cohesive with the rest of the line, as well as with what our company image portrays. I’m responsible for selecting the colors and fabrics. I also work with our seamstresses, cutters and manufacturers to ensure that each garment is held to our standards in both appearance and quality. I am also responsible for booking models for all of our photo shoots, fashion shows and promotional events. I basically have the chance to work in all areas of a fashion company. It’s an invaluable experience.”
After reshuffling the original lineup of the company, Ashley Taylor and, most recently, Lopez were brought on. Taylor, 24 and a UNR grad, is mainly on the business administration side, while Lopez contributes designs.
“I have a class with Oona at UNR, and one day she told me she liked my clothes and asked where I got them, and when I told her I made them, she told me I should come in to Dirty Laundry to show David and Ashley some clothing samples,” Lopez says. “I came in and was so nervous and excited I could barely speak. But I pulled it off, and a few days later, I was offered a position as a designer for the company.”
Lopez thinks there will be a future with Dirty Laundry for everyone involved. “I would have never committed myself to this company if I didn’t think that it was going to be super-high in demand,” she says. “I’ve already seen some samples, which have really motivated me to step up to the plate when it comes to making my final designs. I really see this company taking off. It’s reasonable prices for really urban, trendy and gorgeous items.”
The Dirty Laundry press kit pegs the company’s target audience as the 18- to 29-year-old sector, but the most likely customers will probably be only the wildest of the bunch. The lingerie is unabashedly sheer and the designs provocative, to say the least.
From the company’s overview: “Dirty Laundry is a company that believes the female form should be exemplified; glorified through fabulously mix-matched fabrics that scream originality and sexy, sultry confidence. As a group run by women, Dirty Laundry provides pure design, voice and sultry suggestion. Rock the scantily clad!”
“Our designs are definitely very intimate and sexy and are made to fit in the smallest corners of a woman’s body,” explains Sapunor-Pfaff. “The first collection, Small Talk, is lingerie that is sheer, colorful and flirty. It is meant to be layered and is comfortable enough to be worn under your everyday clothes, to bed or to be shown off. The second collection, Risque, is even sexier. The garments are made from satins, silks and other luxurious fabrics. The pieces are all very intricate and offer a more couture-esque approach to the lingerie.”
Though the lingerie the Dirty Laundry team is striving to produce is clearly not meant for shy, conservative types, they just may be onto something that all women can appreciate. The models the company hires for their photo shoots and product shots are beautiful and refreshingly healthy looking. Their bras aren’t meant to pad and push-up to make a woman into something she’s not, but to enhance the natural beauty of what’s already there. The company describes itself with words like “sassy” and “original.” It’s not important to the company to focus on what a man wants to see on a woman’s body.
“This company is designed by women, for women, never losing touch with the feminine side,” says Sanchez. “We’re developing a culture, a lifestyle. We’re looking to enhance a woman’s body, never to exploit it. Dirty Laundry is adamant about being body-image positive.”