Every woman counts a pair of black pumps and figure-flattering skinny jeans in her wardrobe essentials, but it’s rare to hear a woman rhapsodize about her lingerie. Why? Because despite the wide spectrum of lingerie retailers out there, finding the holy grail of intimates in the right size and fit—not to mention high-quality material and impeccable aesthetic—is an unresolved frustration for most.
That’s why Yun Ah Lee and Jiabei Chen founded Ampere, a lingerie e-shop that offers up to 28 different sizes, more than double of what most lingerie retailers offer. Buying lingerie online might seem counterintuitive at first, but think about it—weaving your way from store to store, getting stares in crowded fitting rooms, and other shopping nightmares can thread a pattern of body image issues and insecurities.
The Ampere solution: When you purchase a bra (and matching panty) online, you receive a free delivery of a few sizes in the style of your choice to try on at home. You have 10 days to try on the bras and return the sister sizes back with a pre-paid return label. If you need help finding the right size before making your selections, Ampere has its own team of fitting experts to help you find the perfect match.
“We hope to make all women, including ourselves, more confident in our bodies by offering a lingerie experience that is comfortable,” Lee says.
As Asian American women with petite frames, Lee and Chen had a hard time finding bras that fit well and also made them look beautiful in bands smaller than a 32. But fit isn’t an issue that’s limited to smaller figures. What women don’t realize, they say, is that 80 percent of them are wearing the wrong bra size. According to Lee, most lingerie manufacturers produce only 10 to 14 sizes.
Sound suspicious? Lee thinks so, too. “It’s frustrating to meet women of so many different shapes and sizes and to hear that they all think of themselves as being a 34B,” Lee says. And while the high-end lingerie market might offer more sizes, the products they sell are often impractical for daily wear—and very expensive. With both quality and beauty, Ampere offers the same luxurious feel for reasonable prices.
“Our sizing convention is based in centimeters for small incremental changes in each bra. This allows for more women to find their size, because we are altering our bands, straps, and cups by smaller increments,” Chen says—joy to the ears of anyone between conventional sizes.
As a New York-based company, Ampere’s first and second collections were inspired by the city’s chicest locations. “We wanted to create something that was elegant and edgy yet practical for everyday wear,” Chen says. “We felt that focusing on these three things would be a true representation of what New York is.”
Some of our favorites: The Gramercy push-up bra is made with luxurious Leaver’s lace, a French classic that is used by many couture houses, and has a silk lining, paying homage to the eponymous neighborhood’s pristine aesthetic. And offering a more feminine look with gold bourdon yarn and lace trimmings, the Chelsea push-up bra is a tribute to its bustling art and fashion scene.
Whatever the model, Lee and Chen work with fabric suppliers in the U.S. and manufacturers in China to meticulously select each element that goes into their lingerie. Their detailed craftsmanship is all in the name of making women feel comfortable yet sexy in their own skin. “We believe that lingerie has the power to make a woman feel beautiful and confident,” Chen says, emphasizing that you don’t need to have special occasions or be with someone to love the lingerie you’re in.
Even more to love? Ampere’s partnership with Free the Girls, a nonprofit organization that offers economic empowerment to women rescued from sex trafficking. The gently used bras that customers try on, but ultimately don’t keep, go toward these women’s second-hand clothing enterprises overseas.
We have high hopes that Ampere could be transforming the lingerie industry for every woman, one bra and panty at a time.
Last modified: March 21, 2014