Happy Friday! Now that we are all going to be spending a lot more time at home, it is the perfect time to introduce you to Woron. Woron is a vegan, cruelty free and sustainable lingerie brand that not only promotes slow fashion, but also seeks to empower women to feel sexy in their natural shape and form.
This week, I had the pleasure of chatting (virtually, of course!) to the Scandinavian sisters: Arina and Anya Woron; co-founders and the brains behind the brand. Their lingerie, with their sustainably-sourced, soft-to-touch fabrics, is without a doubt the perfect addition to your new work-from-home wardrobe. So unplug from the news, step-away from your new work-from-home station and snuggle up on the sofa; it’s time for this week’s interview.
Tell me a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
We are both vegetarians and ever since we can remember, we have always wanted to make a difference for creatures that are not able to speak for themselves. Our biggest inspiration has been our grandmother. She passed away two years ago, and has left quite a big void. She was such a big part of our upbringing, so naturally, some of her interests and passions have rubbed off on us. She loved fashion and had an amazing elegance and grace that we always admired and tried to imitate. She had so many great tips and tricks on how to look her best; even making her own organic facials! More than that though, she was a really intelligent, loving and energetic person. She could talk to everyone and meet them at their level with such effortlessness.
She certainly sounds like an inspiring lady! So how did you both get started in the fashion industry?
Arina: I have a background in fashion and design. I worked as a designer for DAY Birger et Mikkelsen and Preen in London and, as Head of Design for Gestuz. Anya has a background in sales and administration within the beauty industry, where she has been responsible for head of sales targeting the ecological and sustainable community.
Anya: The desire to wear lingerie that is so comfortable that you don’t want to take it off, was what fuelled us to start the brand. The idea came very naturally, since we had often commented on how our old bras itched or didn’t fit quite right.
It sounds like an organic next-step for both of you. When did you decide to start up Woron Lingerie?
We founded the company in July 2015 because of our strong desire to share our take on the perfect lingerie line. We realised that the first thing that we took off when we got home in the evening was always our bras. You know that feeling when you lower the straps, unhook the back and feel that release; that “ahhhh…” moment? Well, our aim was to create lingerie that would be the first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing you take off in the evening!
"Woron’s focus on sustainability is a natural extension of how we live our everyday lives; our appreciation for all living beings and nature."
I love that! And I think most women will definitely be able to relate to that feeling you described. Tell me a little bit more about how you developed the initial idea for Woron?
Arina: The idea came through combining both our similarities and differences. Anya’s interest lies in everything that’s essential. So, it was more important to her that what we were making was durable, had a timeless design and matched most clothing easily. On the other hand, I’m very passionate about fashion and follow the latest trends closely. Ultimately though, I wanted the products we launched to be accessible; something that people can use and keep for a long time. We are also both very passionate about making a difference. We believe that Woron really becomes Woron when we combine all three aspects: sustainability, fashion-forward designs and essential items.
I find your brand ethos really inspiring. In what ways do you consider sensitive skin throughout the process of selecting the materials you use in your lingerie?
Every underwear garment is sewn in a family-owned factory in Europe from sustainably-sourced fabric called Lenzing Modal (Öko-tex certified), which is a fine, smooth fiber made from beechwood. Our modal is created by turning the wood into pulp, extracting the fiber and then reconstituting the fiber so that it can be spun into fabric. The beechwood used in our Modal production is from sustainable forestry plantations growing native trees. The Lenzing fiber is also produced in Europe, so we keep each step as close to home as possible.
Wow, that is quite a process! Do you think that the way you source your fabric improves the quality of your products?
Definitely! The fabric is cool to the touch and very absorbent, meaning less water waste. It is also more resistant to shrinkage, fading and graying than cotton, thereby extending its lifespan. It is great for underwear for two reasons: it has a silky touch which provides that luxurious feel we are aiming for and the fabric naturally has an antibacterial property because of its plant origin.
I’m seriously impressed. Those are all the things I want out of lingerie! What strategies do you think have been key to Woron’s success?
Woron’s focus on sustainability is a natural extension of how we live our everyday lives; our appreciation for all living beings and nature. We want to feel good about every step we take and every piece that we put out into the world. When founding the brand, that meant looking back at our past experiences in the fashion industry and acknowledging practices other brands used that we wouldn’t want to replicate.
That is such a clever way of finding out what you want from your business; starting with what you don’t want. And what is your favourite thing about having started Woron?
We love everything about it; from the creative process of developing our favourite pieces, all the driven people that we meet and collaborate with daily, to our focus on sustainability.
Why do you think people are more conscious of sustainability and the materials in their clothing nowadays?
I think part of the reason is because more information is accessible to the public. Another factor is that our world is constantly growing and when there are more and more people around you that develop sensitivities or allergies to certain products, it causes a chain-reaction. People start to question and change their habits when they see those around them doing the same.
That is very true. What does sustainability mean to you as a brand?
We believe that we all want to sustain what we love. So whether it is people, animals or something small like lingerie, when its time has run out, we want to give it a good send-off.
That’s really lovely! Why do you think lingerie is important for women?
We believe lingerie is the most personal garment whether you are passionate about it or not. It sets the precedent for all other clothes feeling good. The wrong pair of panties can make your entire evening uncomfortable, even if you are wearing the loveliest dress over them. We love the power lingerie has, and the comfort it can bring if it is made properly.
I am in complete agreement! When I’m wearing the right lingerie, I feel ready to take on the day ahead. So if you had to pick, what would be your absolute favourite piece that you have ever created?
Well, the design that we both wear the most is our BRIEF BASE panties. With the bras, our favourites are continuously changing depending on the occasion, or the rest of the outfit. It’s really hard to pick favourites...
I bet! Starting up a fashion brand is no easy task. What were your biggest challenges in starting up Woron?
Our biggest challenge has been the long road to finding the right production collaborators; ones with whom we share a common understanding and a mutual interest in sustainability. We feel proud that we have been able to transform our ideas into tangible products that can bring satisfaction to our customers.
"We were contacted by Emma Watson as she wanted to wear our line during her Beauty and the Beast tour. Later on, her team told us that we are her go-to underwear brand."
I can imagine that being particularly tricky! What makes Woron stand out?
We hope that we can show the world that sustainable thought-processes and designs can also be fashionable. We aim to promote a ‘clean’ and healthy lifestyle overall; from the way we perceive beauty (no push-up bras, etc), to the benefits of non-toxic fashion and slow fashion.
What’s been your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
We were contacted by Emma Watson as she wanted to wear our line during her Beauty and the Beast tour. Later on, her team told us that we are her go-to underwear brand. It is quite something to realise that the brand you have created has not only reached someone with so much power and influence, but a woman whose values also reflect our own! Another stand out moment was when we won the LUX award (in 2018 and 2019) for ‘Best Sustainable Underwear Brand’.
Both of those moments must have been pretty surreal! So what inspires you?
Our inspiration comes from our three keywords: Sustainable Fashion Essentials. We kept coming back to those three words when we were in the planning stages of our brand. We have a very minimalistic Scandinavian approach and what we find fascinating, is that something so simple and clean can be so attractive.
I really appreciate that. Now from a personal perspective, do you think you guys have a work/life balance?
We would very much like to be able to say yes, but the fact is, we still struggle to keep balance. We are both very passionate and when we find something exciting we tend to go all-in on it; and this is the case with Woron. We love working together, creating and the work that we do gives us fulfilment. So, even though we have got better at establishing a work/life balance, the two still get mixed up a bit and create a ‘wonderful mess’.
Balance is a hard thing to navigate in business! What words do you live by?
“Less is more.” These are the words that we create by and strive to live by.
So important! What’s next for Woron?
In addition to further expanding our ‘Base Collection’, we are working on new styles that will have more edge and detail; pieces that will still have their roots in the essential favourites. On a bigger scale, we really want to spread our purpose further: to allow womens’ authentic selves to flourish. We have some amazing things in the pipeline that we hope will inspire women in our tribe and those yet to join, to do just that.
Like what you read? Head to Woron to find out more. Or if you fancy checking out some previous interviews you can find them here. All images are via Woron.