Why does something have to lose desirability just because it’s functional? That’s the question Prism founder Anna Laub asks when she designs, and it’s at the core of her recent multipurpose garment brand, Prism².
Dubbed “swimtimate” by US Vogue, Prism² is swimwear, sportswear and underwear all in one.
Laub, who launched her Prism range in 2009, says the idea was born while visiting her textile mill in Italy in early 2019. The Londoner wanted to solve the issue of sizing, which was becoming a costly hurdle for her Prism swimwear range, which is sold primarily online.
#MeToo lingerie is becoming sexy rather than sexual.
Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to buy a cossie from a website unless the brand is tried and tested. “I was literally trying to solve this problem of making something luxury but at a lower price point, that was more functional, that I could sell online and where sizing wasn’t going to be a nightmare,” she says.
She’d developed a seamless 3-D knit in 2019, but hadn’t yet used the fabric in swimwear. She realised it ticked a lot of boxes: the manufacturing process meant there was virtually zero waste, while the fabric itself was chlorine-resistant, quick drying, heat-resistant, breathable and had sweat-wicking. It could thus be potentially worn to yoga, as underwear, with jeans and to swim in. “It’s basically put together like shapewear but doesn’t look like underwear,” she explains.
The multifunctional idea came from watching women around her, and from her own life as a working mum. “I’m not a massive sports freak but I do go through stages of doing yoga five times a week,” Laub says.
“I’d started looking at all the sports brands that are all about the person who’s going running for two hours a day. There are a lot of women who aren’t extreme in that way. They want something functional that also looks good, is in a really nice palette, and makes your body look amazing.”
Laub was ahead of the shift in the lingerie business away from women having to be overtly sexual to be sexy. In the #MeToo era, the antiquated Victoria’s Secret view of female beauty – top models strutting down a runway wearing barely-there lingerie and angel wings – was out of fashion, to the point that its annual runway show, which attracted more than 12 million US viewers in 2001, was cancelled in 2019. Around the same time as Laub was launching Prism², Rihanna showed her Savage X Fenty lingerie range in France by putting women of all shapes and sizes on the runway, a ground-breaking move for Paris Fashion Week, and Kim Kardashian modelled her new Skims shapewear on her famously curvy figure.
“Size inclusivity is something I’ve always done with my swimwear but not all styles are going to work on an extra-large figure,” says Laub. “Whereas with Prism², everything works on every body type because that’s part of the concept, that’s the nature of the material and that’s the nature of the styles.”