Apartment Visit: Daphne Javitch of TEN Undies
TEN Undies are loved by our female staff for their comfortable fit, classic shapes, and bright colors. We recently visited TEN designer Daphne Javitch at her LES apartment, where she chatted with us about her inspiration and what goes into making a great pair of underwear.
You’re a born and raised New Yorker. What do you love most about living here?
I feel very free in New York. I love being able to get around easily and get things done quickly. I also love New York’s promise of the unexpected – my whole day can change from bumping into someone, accidentally seeing something inspiring or overhearing a crazy New York conversation on the street.
The girls at our office are big fans of TEN’s functional yet cute styles. It seems the two rarely go hand in hand when it comes to underwear, so, thanks! What prompted you to create TEN?
That’s so nice, thank you! I was wearing children’s underwear before TEN because I couldn’t find the perfect pair of cotton undies. I love a full seat cotton bikini, but I couldn’t find it done right for grown ups. I wanted simple and beautifully made cotton undies in amazing colors and a bra for the small breasted! I was inspired by my style icons of the 60s and 70s – Diane Keaton, Jane Birkin, Goldie Hawn, Charlotte Rampling, Lee Radziwill . . . straightforward, spirited women. That’s my kind of sexy. The idea for TEN was to make everyday undies that are suitable for an unexpected sexy situation.
Where is it made?
We make everything in the USA. The fabric is from Italy, but everything else is custom dyed, sewn, and packaged here. The fabric is 83% cotton and 17% elastane – it has a cotton feel, but with memory. So when you stand it’s opaque, but when you bend and move it’s slightly sheer. Sometimes 100% cotton droops in an unattractive way – not ours! TEN fabric is also special because it’s mercerized which gives it the smooth hand (no fuzz).
How did you develop the styles?
TEN launched with just one style – the classic bikini. It seems odd to start a brand with one style, but everything I make is considered and perfected so development takes time. In two years we’ve added two new bottoms – the Boy Short and the High Waisted – and a bra. Everyone loves to sleep in a boy short, and the high waisted was inspired by a bathing suit of mine. I love the TEN High! But the bikini will always be our classic and we offer all our styles in white and navy every collection. As a customer, I don’t like getting attached to a product and then having it change or disappear. The bra came about because I’m flat chested and can never find a good bra! So many tee shirts and dresses are sheer – we need a bra too! And the lines of the TEN bra are so pretty – I like it to show through. I think there’s a time and place for all kinds of underwear, but for an everyday pair that fits well and makes you really happy every time you take your jeans off, TEN is the best.
How do you choose your colors?
It’s interesting because the line is super focused (we started with just a bikini, and then a bra, and then added two more underwear styles) and we really work on perfecting the shapes and the construction, so the thing that becomes the novelty attraction is the color. I focus on combining timeless and exciting colors into each collection. When I launched TEN, I was into sheer vintage nightgowns as dresses, so the first collection had very bright colors like tennis ball yellow! Coloring a collection is challenging because there are so many I love but don’t work out. We dye and color test in LA, and sometimes I’m desperately trying to match a color and the dye house returns something totally off, but on occasion the wrong color ends up being good! We test a lot. I always show my colors to people for feedback. None of it is pre-dyed fabric. Every color is customized.
We love the postal envelope packaging. What inspired it?
I once sent my crush a pair of white cotton underwear in the mail . . . now every pair of TENs comes in a custom airmail envelope. It was during our courtship, when I was just starting to think about TEN, so he knew it was from me because I was sort of obsessed with underwear. I think mailing a pair is a sweet, romantic gesture. The nostalgic envelope packaging is a gift wrap which works for love interests and pals. I come from a costume design background, so I’m very inspired by personal narratives. I like the sense that there’s more than just the thing itself.
We recently interviewed Daryl K, who also has a background in costume design. How did you get into it, and what did you enjoy about it?
I did mostly contemporary, naturalistic, story-driven stuff. I studied Art History and Theater at college. I actually went to acting school, but quickly realized I wasn’t an actor! I began designing costumes for my school productions and then got jobs in theater and film. Costume design is such an amazing job. I had the best time doing it. I love the collaborative aspect of it, working with all of these people aiming to tell a story, and everyone has a different skill to offer it. I loved working with actors, figuring out the little things, and not being required to abide by any fashion/trend limitations. I would always ride the subway when I was working on a project and think, who in this subway car is the closest thing to this character I’m working on? And you notice all these little details and things people do when they put themselves together, like if they wear a hair elastic on their wrist or what they have in their pockets. It’s a lot of fun. What’s really amazing about theater is that a play is an evolution, and you can keep improving it. Film as a medium is exciting, but once you make a decision, it can’t really change, so that’s a challenge. Costume design has also been really helpful in my consulting work. A lot of times I’m working on something that’s not my personal style, so it helps me think outside of myself. P.S. I love Daryl K! I think she’s super cool.
You’ve had some wonderful opportunities for collaboration with talents such as Brigitte Lacombe. What’s been your most surreal work experience thus far?
Brigitte Lacombe shot portraits of Mona Kowalksa and I in our TEN & A Détacher collaboration. Brigitte is my mentor and Mona is one of my favorite designers. It was a really big deal for me to work alongside two such exceptional women. I’m still pinching myself! Another great TEN moment was when I sent undies to the cast of GIRLS and Lena Dunham told me she already owned three pairs!
What do you have up your sleeve for 2013?
In February I’m launching my first clothing capsule! It’s a collaboration with Ron Herman Japan. I designed 10 items for the TEN girl which will be sold exclusively in their stores.
What are your favorite neighborhood haunts?
I love the Juice Press on 1st and 1st. My favorite is the Love at First Sight (kale, spinach, apple). Right next door is a really lovely coffee place called Bluebird which also has amazing oatmeal. I love Souen on East 6th — I’m embarrassed because when things get super busy with work I order from there almost every night and think they must recognize my voice by now! The food is delicious. I like to shop at John Derian, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and A Détacher. I go running on the track at East 6th Street — there’s this weird outdoor gym there, and a woman who always runs in a long skirt. She’s a TEN!
Many thanks to Daphne for having us over! You can find TEN at our Brooklyn, Tribeca, La Brea, and web shops.This entry was posted on Friday, February 1st, 2013 at 6:23 am and is filed under New Arrivals. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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