Fresh from its UKLA win, Eberjey has another major reason to celebrate. In a rare interview, co-founder Ali Mejia reflects on 20 years in the intimate apparel industry.
American brand Eberjey has started the New Year on a high after claiming the coveted title of Lounge & Nightwear Brand of the Year at the 2015 UK Lingerie Awards. And the win couldn’t have come at a better time for the label, as it enters its 20th year in the business.
“Honestly, to be recognised by the industry at this point in our business just feels really amazing,” said co-founder Ali Mejia, as she welcomed Lingerie Insight editor Sarah Clarke onto her stand at Salon International de la Lingerie
“I think the fact that the Awards are UK-based makes it even more special because we are a US label, but we realise now that we are finally becoming more of an international brand.”
Eberjey was born in Miami in 1996, after Mejia and her colleague Mariela Rovito – who worked with her at a global advertising agency – noticed a distinct lack of pretty underthings in the US market.
Fashionable nightwear was particularly hard to come by in America at the time, according to Mejia.
“When we started, it wasn’t even a category in the US,” she said. “We were excited to change that and we were excited for women to see that they could go to bed looking pretty. So we feel that we really contributed to the rise of that category,” Mejia reflected.
“It’s funny because as a young girl, when I visited Europe, I always bought pyjamas and I also asked my friends to pick them up for me when they travelled, so I had the most amazing collection. Nightwear has always been a part of me.”
Eberjey started out as a lingerie brand after Mejia joked that someday she would design underwear for laterally challenged, flat-bottomed women like herself. And thus, the Eberjey boy short was born.
Thongs, bralets, and camis soon followed, along with pyjamas and swimwear.
“It’s been a beautiful journey,” said Mejia, proudly. “We started in our 20s, so what we were making then is very different to what we are making now.
“I feel like as we grew older, we understood our bodies more, and we understood what was really needed in the market,” she explained.
“We started off with sexy little pieces and sheer little numbers, but our fabrics have since changed and our silhouettes have evolved.”
Eberjey has come a long way in 20 years. Yet, as it marks this major milestone, it plans to go back to its roots.
“It’s interesting because for our 20th anniversary we are going back to using those first fabrics that we used,” said Mejia.
“We started with wovens and cottons and have evolved into a jersey brand. But now we’re going to look through the archives and find the fabrics and prints that we used two decades ago, to create a collection that is relevant to today’s market.”
“We’ll be relaunching cotton,” she continued. “And we’re also thinking of doing a special print for our 20th anniversary. Right now, I’m working on it.”
Eberjey will also reintroduce brighter colourways into its forthcoming lingerie and nightwear collections.
“I’m excited for spring/summer – to make it a little juicer and fresh. It depends what’s happening in the market. We live in Miami where we have sunshine for most of the year, but we need to be conscious of the other territories that might need a pop of colour in their lives,” joked Mejia.
Eberjey has now grown from a lingerie supplier to an worldwide luxury lifestyle brand. Consumers can find the label in upscale department stores and boutiques in the US, Europe, Japan and Canada.
It also has two own-brand stores in Miami and will open its first concept store in New York this summer.
The new shop will be located close to the new Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort Street, near Manhattan’s famous Meatpacking District.
It will feature 1,200ft2 of selling space, offering Eberjey’s entire collection of sleepwear, lingerie and swimwear.
Mejia said: “It’s going to be beautiful. We’re working with a New York architect at the moment and it’s going have a soothing atmosphere where we can really showcase all of our lines.”
Eberjey hopes to expand into other key markets in the near future.
“It’s really important for us to expand our retail concept,” explained Mejia. “Right now we want to express our whole brand in a concept store because it’s very different to going into a department store where you have one rack.
“If you walk into our store, we take you through the full line and show you what would fit you nicely. It’s a completely different experience.
“Online is doing really well for us, but nothing compares to being able to try on the whole line in store. We need to be the ones who give the consumer everything they want.”
Eberjey is distributed in the UK by Philippa Bradley Agencies. Its UK stockists include Selfridges and Net-A-Porter.