Chloé Julian, designer and founder of Videris Lingerie. Image supplied.
Chloé Julian has worked for some of the biggest lingerie brands in the world in her 15 year career, and in late 2020 she went out on her own and launched New Zealand-based lingerie brand Videris. Created as an alternative to synthetic, mass-produced lingerie, Videris was the result of two years of research and development. It’s sustainable pieces are made from natural fibres and cleverly designed to be supportive without using any underwire. Her debut range is available online now and features a handful of styles produced in suitably soft natural fabrics and beautiful colours.
Those pared-back designs couldn’t be further from some of the mesh and lace creations that Chloé Julian designed for the likes of Agent Provocateur and Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage x Fenty but creating consciously made lingerie has never been more appealing. Returning home to New Zealand from 15 years overseas, Chloé reflected both on her design experience and her interest in holistic health, and could see that there was space in the market for a considered lingerie brand that offered not just well designed pieces but lingerie that was good for the wearer and the planet too.
We caught up with Chloé to find out more about her brand Videris, what factors she considers when designing lingerie and how the fascinating colour theory behind her designs works?
Congratulations on launching Videris, how did your brand come about and what has the response been like so far?
Doing something with intention is important to me. It had never been a plan of mine to start my own lingerie brand but after 15 years designing lingerie, with 100’s of bras in my drawer, I realised I didn’t own anything I wanted to wear. As a lingerie designer, I want to wear something every day that is not only well designed but also looks good with ultimate comfort. I don’t think one of these should exclude the other. So I guess I designed Videris with myself in mind, and I am a Videris customer.
After finishing my last role at Savage X Fenty, which was extremely stressful, I had to give myself space to re-energise and took a break for the first time in my career. I was making more mindful and sustainable choices in my clothing, choosing natural fibres or organic options but realised that I hadn’t extended this thought process to my underwear which is worn directly against our skin on the most intimate parts of our body. The majority of my lingerie drawer was made from lace, tulle, and mesh which are all plastic-based fabrics; polyester and polyamide.
I had already moved on from wearing a wire, but most soft cup bras available are quite basic, they don’t have the same consideration regarding the structure and fit that a wired product has, short cuts are taken in the componentry needed to give support because these are seen as cheaper items. The pretty ones are flimsy, delicate, and unsupportive. And the supportive styles can be quite juvenile and sporty – pull over your head with no underband or strap adjustment, missing important design elements that allow you to fit a bra to your individual body shape.
We have had an incredibly positive response to Videris and the best thing is that we are getting positive feedback from women of all shapes and sizes. We have had some beautiful emails where women are incredibly grateful to have found something comfortable and beautiful to wear.
Can you tell us about the colour philosophy that underpins your label?
Videris Lingerie utilises colour psychology to harness an intention that focuses on our inner self, that which can’t be seen; feelings, intuition, emotions, thoughts, spirituality, values, purpose, and beliefs.
Becoming more self-aware by balancing our inner and outer self is the foundation for good mental, physical and spiritual health. We can become more connected to our inner self through the use of colour.
Most people are aware of the effects of non-visible light, like radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, ultraviolet light, X rays but are less aware of the effects of visible light; the colours we can see. Colour therapy – also known as chromotherapy or light therapy – is part of holistic healing. Made up of energy and light, each colour falls into a specific frequency and vibration that can affect our mood and physical and mental wellbeing.
When you consciously choose the colour that’s right for you, you are taking a moment to reflect on how you feel and what you want from your day.
Lingerie from Videris’ debut range.
How did your interest in sustainability and ethical fashion come about and how have you translated that into Videris?
If you are paying very little for a garment then most likely someone else is carrying the cost – either the environment or unfairly paid workers.
At Videris Lingerie we take a comprehensive approach to our impact that considers environmental, labour, and social change. Making choices in materials and packaging with low environmental impact, working with ethical suppliers and protecting factory workers, and being held accountable for the way our strategic decisions affect workers throughout the entire supply chain.
It requires committing to constantly improving, we don’t claim to be perfect, some of the better options and newer developments are prohibitive for brands like Videris as we manufacture on a responsible smaller scale.
We have tried to create a balance with our price structure because not everyone can afford a higher price point item to ensure they’re making environmentally friendly consumer decisions. I wanted our underwear to be accessible to most and enable our customers to continue to buy from a more conscious brand. You often see similar consciously made underwear priced around $45-50 which I felt was too high for an everyday item we need to buy multiple of.
Creating lingerie that lasts starts with choosing the right fabric. Our bras, knickers, and sleepwear are made from the latest generation in TENCEL™ Lyocell. TENCEL™ is a soft breathable, natural fiber made using sustainability-sourced wood pulp. These botanic fibres are created from renewable wood sourced from natural forests and sustainably managed plantations within Austria and neighbouring countries. The environmentally responsible closed-loop production process transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibers with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact. The process recycles water and recovers more than 99% of solvents used.
Every piece of Videris Lingerie is certified OEKO-TEX® Standard 100. This means every piece of material or trim we use is free of harmful substances such as heavy metals, toxic dyes, and carcinogenic substances.
What are the key factors you consider when designing lingerie?
In my first graduate lingerie job I was trained to not only design bras but to pattern cut and work with a sample machinist on the first prototype samples. This knowledge of how a pattern goes together and the various pieces needed to create support and comfort is always in my mind when I am sketching.
I never design something that I don’t know how it will be constructed. I think that this way of designing really informs my aesthetic which is to design something that looks simple and effortless but actually has clever pattern cutting or design features to ensure it is functional. I really think about every component and detail as these ultimately inform the fit and quality of the garment, especially in a bra. For a bra to fit well and feel balanced and comfortable on the body you need to use the correct modulus (strength) of elastic at the underarm, underband and neckline, a good quality strap elastic and hardware is important for support and fit. Some brands take a simplified approach to these details and ultimately the bra never fits quite right. I also grade up all our elastics and componentry between the Medium and Large size so that our larger sizes have the necessary support. There are about 10 different components in our bra so for a brand that manufactures on a smaller responsible scale this does add extra surcharges to our product but it is not a detail I would compromise on.
What are your tips for choosing lingerie that every woman should know?
Think about the type of fabric you want to wear directly against your skin; if you are unlikely to wear a non-breathable fitted polyester tee-shirt then don’t buy lingerie in these fabrics.
Our bodies are constantly changing and fluctuating in size with our cycle, buying lingerie in materials that have stretch allow you to feel comfortable during these changes
I would never buy a bra that didn’t have adjustable straps, nothing drives me crazier than a strap that isn’t doing its job, the whole fit of the bra relies on a good quality strap.
Chloe Julian working on Videris Lingerie’s debut range.
How would you describe your personal style and how does it influence your designs?
My personal style is quite relaxed, I appreciate good quality fabrics and clever design details. I love a garment that can be worn in multiple ways. When I am designing lingerie my aesthetic is quite feminine, it’s not about hiding or constricting but allowing and flattering and in the end, it has to be something that I personally will wear.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to as a designer?
To have faith that everything happens for a reason; good or bad. In hindsight, some of the worst times have led to some of the best outcomes but when you’re younger, you don’t often look at endings as new beginnings.
Now I am much better at recognising when something is no longer nourishing me, and whilst making a decision to change or let go is difficult, I know from past experience that I am likely to look back on the situation and realise that it was a necessary period to go through. Learning to trust your intuition is really important. As a designer, I am constantly creating newness which often means justifying why this is better than something that already exists, if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Launching Videris has been my highlight, creating a product, brand, and message that I 100% believe in is the best feeling.
How do you personally define success and what does it mean to you?
I get uncomfortable with the term success as it’s often linked with other people’s perception of you. I think I’m old enough to not be too thrown by that now, but I worry about the generation that is growing up with the influence of social media and how people represent (or misrepresent) themselves online, there is a real confusion that popularity and success are the same things.
For me, success means enjoying what I am doing and being respected for doing it.
Lingerie from Videris’ debut range.
You’ve been involved in the fashion industry for a long time, in what way can the fashion industry be used as tool for good? Can feminism and fashion co-exist?
Yes, of course fashion can be used as a tool for good. I feel an extra responsibility to portray a positive and real example for other women being a lingerie brand, especially when we are bombarded by images of perfection.
We don’t retouch our imagery, not because we have a strict policy but because it was a natural evolution of our ethos as a brand. I want a woman to look at a Videris image and think ‘that could be me’. It’s not easy to find natural looking women who are happy to be photographed in underwear, so I’ve had to rely on friends who have trusted me and believed in my vision. And if a friend is trusting me to be vulnerable in their underwear then it is wrong for me to take their body and change it through retouching because then I am sending the message that she wasn’t perfect or good enough just as she is. If an image of a certain body shape makes us feel uncomfortable we need to ask ourselves ‘why?’
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
It’s really important, and especially when in a position of power. When I was managing large design teams it was my philosophy that it was my job to make each team member the best that they could be at their job, and to do that you can’t be threatened or afraid of someone coming up with a better idea than you. To give feedback and share ideas and then allow your team the space to develop these their way. I always created a very collaborative team environment and at the end of a collection it would never be about individual designs but the collection created together as a whole, I am still very close with all the designers I have trained over the years.
The imagery on our Instagram is intentionally natural and relaxed. One of the women I work with said to me after seeing an image of one of our muses Laura ‘she looks like such a goddess I don’t know why I’m being so hard on myself.’ This type of reaction is everything! As women we really are the hardest on ourselves, I want to put imagery out there that makes a woman feel good and look at herself and others with love and compassion.
What do you think we should all be doing as individuals to consume fashion more responsibly?
We need to educate and inform ourselves. We need to read and understand the care labels on clothing we are buying, and think about how many times we will wear an item before buying.
The growth of fast fashion has been facilitated by an increase in the use of polyester, which now makes up 60% of clothing worldwide but is projected to nearly double by 2030. This growing predominance of polyester, on its own or blended with other materials, is one of the biggest environmental challenges. Polyester clothing is also polluting rivers and seas even while it’s being used, with just one piece of clothing releasing up to 1 million microplastic fibres in a single wash; *Greenpeace destination zero report July 2018.
You won’t find any lace bras or mesh knickers in our collection. That’s because most of these fabrics are made from plastic. Not only are plastic-based fibers stifling against the skin, but there’s also a hefty amount of toxic chemicals used in the production process. Some of these toxic chemicals – such as Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) – remain in polyester-based lingerie and clothing and are nearly impossible to wash out. These NPEs can break down into endocrine-disrupting chemicals which can interfere with your hormones, leading to many adverse reactions in the body.
I read recently that there is a huge problem with the second hand/recycled clothes industry because the majority of the clothes are from fast-fashion chains and these were never manufactured with the intention to have a long life in the first instance so they aren’t fit for recycling and are going to landfill.
Our design and production process is purposefully slow and considered to make sure every Videris piece is money well spent. We don’t need to re-invent our bras and knickers every season. Instead, we’ll occasionally release a new design, when we’re sure we’ve got it right.