Lonely is a lingerie and swim brand that went viral when they recently featured Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke in a series of un-retouched portraits. Founded by Helene Morris and her partner Steve Morris, the New Zealand based brand has gained a cult following by embracing body positivity in their campaigns. Lonely refuses to do any retouching on their campaign images and features inspiring women instead of typical lingerie models.
“It was this shared viewpoint that drew Lena Dunham to the project,” Helene Morris said. “We were introduced through a mutual friend and she was so positive and enthusiastic about what we are trying to achieve with the project. She has been incredibly supportive of Lonely, and we really appreciate her contribution to our brand. We posted one image on Instagram and had over 1 billion page impressions and hundreds of stories worldwide. For a small New Zealand based team, it has been incredible for our international recognition and growth.”
Helene Morris was inspired to launch Lonely because she was tired of hearing complaints from women about how uncomfortable their underwear was, and she knew she could offer a solution through well-designed pieces that were showcased in a way that women could relate to.
“Victoria’s Secret holds over 50% market share in the US and has so many problem areas, from their stereotypical marketing, receiving the lowest rating for production practices to their hugely disproportionate CEO pay, which was over $40 million in 2014,” Helene Morris said. “We wanted to show women that there is another way to build and sustain a company; strengthening and supporting our manufacturers’ businesses and lives, producing imagery that gives our daughters confidence, not insecurities, and not being greedy as a company and as individuals. All of these things are so important to us and essential if we want to make this world a better place to live in.”
When the duo founded Lonely 14 years ago, they only had the money in their savings account and their dream to do something important in the world.
“We never even had the option of seeding or venture capital and no bank wanted to touch us,” Morris said. “As we progressed we have relied only on some small family loans and our organic working cash flow to fund everything we have today. To this point, we have never received any external funding.”
Lonely aims to stand out from their competitors through offering a large size range, and well designed and comfortable bras.
“We proudly offer the largest size range of any independent lingerie label, with 26 sizes in our most supportive styles,” Morris said. “Our bras are not only unique in design but also supremely comfortable and supportive. We steer away from restrictive linings and only use the softest and highest quality materials. Alongside this diversity in sizing and product, we challenge traditional stereotypes through our imagery and campaigns. We continually ask ‘is there another way?’ and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. It is this combination that separates us and has united thousands of Lonely women worldwide.”
Social media has been the most important factor for Lonely to find and grow their customer base.
Lonely has plans to continue to grow their online store and hopefully expand on their brand’s unique retail experience.
“We strive to constantly improve and challenge both ourselves and our customers,” Morris said. “Our online store has had large growth over the past few years. This is an area that we are constantly working to improve. We also hope to expand our retail experience. We now have three stores here in New Zealand. They are intimate and beautiful spaces that feel more like residential settings rather than the bright, often uncomfortable retail settings that are the norm. We are proud to have won national design awards for each store we have opened. Our unique retail experience is something that we would love to share with our customers worldwide.”
“Here we can communicate directly with our women, in our voice and in our way,” Morris said. “Instagram, in particular, has been a powerful platform for us, our @lonelylingerie page continues to grow organically but at an amazing pace.”