If you aren’t familiar with Negative—the effortlessly cool lingerie brand disrupting the over-sexualized, over-wired, over-padded undergarment industry—you should be. Started by Marissa Vosper and Lauren Schwab, two close friends who were tired of the needlessly frilly and frankly, uncomfortable, selection of underwear on market, made it their mission to “take away” anything that doesn’t directly add to the comfort and ease of your intimates. “Underwear is quite quotidian,” states founder Lauren Schwab. “You make your coffee in it, go to the gym, go to work… Most of the time, what you do in undergarments isn’t related to your sexuality.”
Both Schwab and Vosper were working traditional corporate jobs in New York City when they began taking night classes at FIT. Co-founder Marissa Vosper explains, “We started looking at the world of fashion through the lens of white space and opportunity. What was the problem to be solved?” She adds, “Underwear was a category that really forced you to decide between beauty and functionality.” Their vision: focus on the essentials of undergarments—high quality, luxury elastics, silky soft fabrics—and make the pieces cool. In 2014 they launched Negative and, following an aptly-timed feature in the Wall Street Journal Off Duty section, the duo quit their respective jobs and never looked back.
Today, the brand operates out of a covetable loft in SoHo—a space that doubles as the home Vosper shares with her husband.
“We wanted the space to feel ‘of SoHo’,” says Vosper of her quintessential prewar loft. The expansive open plan is flooded with sunlight, and boasts such architectural charms as Corinthian columns, a tin roof, and exposed brick and piping. The interior feels calm, serene and—taking cues from Negative’s singular ethos—intentional. “Lauren and I started Negative based on our personal aesthetics,” says Vosper, whose less-is-more mantra is on display in every edited vignette. The concept of minimalism and monochrome extends to all 2,300 square feet, as she opts for white-washed woods, vintage furniture pieces and light metals, lightly punctuated by found objects and contemporary art. She adds, “Having white space and room to breathe is crucial in both your wardrobe and your home.” The airy rental acts as a functioning showroom, housing their ever-growing inventory and a private office for filling orders and billing. Customers can make appointments to try on their product and attend their various after-hours events. Restoration Hardware’s Salvaged Wood Trestle dining table, serves as a desk for Negative’s small team, and the full-length, antiqued mirror in the entry comes in handy during fittings.
They couldn’t be located in a more apropos neighborhood—SoHo is arguably the most fashion-y ‘hood in New York City. Vosper paints a picture, “You walk out onto the street and bump into Leandra Medine or Terry Richardson, who happens to be getting coffee at your local spot.” Being conveniently located among fashion’s power players has certainly added to the start-up’s success.
With no clear demarcation of space in the loft, Vosper looked to friend Noa Santos—who has since founded Homepolish—to help her grasp the interior layout. He offered insight on multi-use storage solutions that can sub as room dividers, splitting the living space with back-to-back sofas, and designating “rooms” with oversized area rugs—sourced here from Safavieh and ABC Carpet & Home. “Design-wise ABC Kitchen is my favorite space in the city,” muses Vosper, who actually got married there in 2014. The space feels like an extension of the popular restaurant and adjoining home store, with its mix of rustic, raw architectural elements, elegant accessories—see both crystal chandeliers—and neutral palette. “It didn’t seem right to bake a lot of color into a space with such existing natural beauty,” she says. Vosper and her husband settled on a masculine aesthetic for their shared space, “Our bedroom has touches of pink—but not too much.”
Another move that feels synonymous with Negative, is the home’s steady mix of high and low and vintage and modern. Vosper poses, “Anyone can walk into Gucci and buy an entire outfit, but blend Gucci with a piece of vintage and something from Zara, and you get—style.”