For decades, brands like Victoria's Secret and Hanes have dominated the lingerie and underwear market. But, in recent years, a number of emerging designers and fashion houses have shaken up the women's undergarment scene and transformed what's hidden beneath our clothes, including a former San Antonio resident.
Eliza Ladensohn, founder and designer of Sloane & Tate, never intended to end up as the creative mind behind an innovative intimates company embraced by the likes of Miley Cyrus and Mila Kunis, but when she uncovered a clear void in the fashion industry in her early marketing career, the savvy entrepreneur sought to fill it with comfortable, chic, American-made pieces.
"It really came down to realizing that there wasn't underwear that fit my personality or my desires," she says. "I knew I wasn't the only consumer who wanted to try something different, and that's where Sloane & Tate started.”
Early in her life, Ladensohn was exposed to constant creativity from her ambitious parents, who ran a steel furniture manufacturing business. Though she had a deep appreciation for entrepreneurship and art throughout her young adulthood, Ladensohn had no inclination she would end up being an underwear designer.
After graduating from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Ladensohn moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Universal Pictures' consumer promotions division before breaking off to work for a small independent casting director. In her job at Universal, Ladensohn learned a great deal about consumer demographics and what products appealed to various consumer interests. "I didn't realize how much that experience lends itself to my job today," she says.
Deriving its name from Sloane Ranger, English slang for a fashionable young person, and the Tate Modern museum in London, Sloane & Tate launched in 2008. The brand utilizes design principles from menswear, with an emphasis on comfort and confidence. The lineup includes brief-style undies and boxers, light fabric bras, loose-fitting tanks, boyfriend-style T-shirts, and more.
"It seemed so strange to me that there was either this sexy, lacy lingerie option like Victoria's Secret, and then everything else was very utilitarian like Hanes," Ladensohn says. "Consumers have more than these two identities and they deserve a product that acknowledges that."
Instead of focusing on hyper sexual or purely practical garments, Ladensohn merged various interests to create a line that is cozy and sexy with a profound dedication to sourcing local, sustainable materials in Los Angeles. And though Ladensohn says she would likely save much more money if her pieces were produced overseas, the designer says she prefers to be in touch with the garments from start to finish in a local factory under her guidance and observation. After all, the preciseness of every seam and every stitch is crucial to Sloane & Tate's dedication to function and design.
"It matters to me to know that my garments are sewn in a positive, hands-on working environment where everyone is collaborating," she says. "Los Angeles is the city that inspired me to create this company, so it only made sense to me to source everything directly from here."
When she launched Sloane & Tate, Ladensohn made it her goal to achieve two career milestones: to be featured in Vogue magazine and to have her products sold in Barneys New York. Sloane & Tate has already accomplished both of these impressive goals.
"I really thought when I reached those accomplishments I would feel as though I had made it, but I feel like I'm just getting started," she says. "There are ups and downs to this job, but when I get an email or a message from a customer saying how much they love one of our products, that completely changes my day."