A long time ago I made a decision to forego any garment that was made in China (or Vietnam, or Macao... you get the idea), and to support independent designers. Living in Portland, this has been overwhelmingly painless—the city is chockablock with interesting boutiques stocking unique, independent designs from home and abroad. But with such marvelous shopping for clothes, when it comes to undergarments there hasn't really been a store that complemented the aesthetic established by beloved Portland shops like Una, Seaplane, Denwave, or the English Dept.—places run by people I really think of as curators as much as they are business owners.
Faced with either cheap synthetics or high prices for items that don't quite suit my style, I've ended up with an underwear drawer filled mostly with the candy colors of the perfectly serviceable American Apparel. I'm not in the market for something overtly seductive, I dislike synthetics, and I ain't no rich lady, all of which has added up to a rather glum landscape of undies options, with nothing to match the spirit of the Church + State tunic designed by my neighbors, or the shoes that Emily Ryan helped me pick out at Halo.
I know I'm not alone in this, and that is why I am bubbling over with enthusiasm for the arrival of Lille Boutique (1007 E Burnside, lilleboutique.com)—so much so that I'm jumping the gun a bit by writing this now; the shop won't be open until mid-April, but how can I be expected to keep such great news to myself?
Founded as a partnership between college chums Sarah Yach and Sara Yurman, Lille is underwear's answer to Portland's eclectic boutique experience. Their priorities are to stock natural and quality fibers (silks, bamboo, the finest lace) from small designers, and the store's style isn't about finding the raciest thing in the store in order to seduce your man or save your marriage, nor are their lines costume-y or gimmicky. Instead the goal is to create a comfortable place to browse for quality everyday pieces like pima cotton bras, special occasion French panties in handmade lace, as well as organic bath products and candles, antique furnishings, and sweet notions like vintage parasols and decorative trays. Everything in the store, the décor of which is working a "French country theme," is for sale, and, ambitiously enough, every item will also be available for purchase on the store's website.
With an emphasis on making the customer feel relaxed and unrushed, Lille will also feature a database to record your sizes and preferences, so that if your significant other wants to get you something, the ladies of Lille will be able to guide him or her in the correct direction, and you won't end up having to grin and bear it in leopard-print crotchless underwear.
Some examples of lines the store will carry are Dessous, a line inspired by the antique lace of the designer's French grandmother; organic and free-trade lines like the British Ciel, which makes bamboo pieces that Yach says are "softer than a kitten;" and Araks, the New York line whose panties were worn by Scarlett Johansson in the opening scene of Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola is a big fan). Others include San Francisco's Elizabeth W, the classic French line Eres, a bit of Vera Wang, the British Bodas line, Elise Aucouturier, Beau Bra, and more.
If you're as excited as I am by Lille's arrival, make sure to go to their website and sign up for the newsletter; you'll get an invitation to their grand opening, as well as be kept in the loop of other happenings like art shows for First Friday, and more. In the meantime, it's time to make some room in that panties drawer.
It's knickers time: email@example.com