By GREGORY ZELLER //
Impish Lee has found a way to go even au naturel-er.
The Sea Cliff-based customized-lingerie manufacturer has innovated its trillions-strong-and-yet-barely-there product line once again, this time introducing a 95-percent-natural fiber that thinks globally and acts sexually.
Customers can now choose to have their personalized products – trillions of possible combinations, factoring styles, fabrics, colors, sizes, add-ons and more – fashioned with modal jersey, a sustainable (and super-soft) fabric comprised almost entirely of beechwood fiber, making it a friend to allergy sufferers and Mother Earth alike.
It was popular demand that sent Impish Lee on a months-long quest for the right natural fiber, according to cofounder Noelle Ventresca, who noted interest by both tree-huggers and other huggers who liked the company’s sexy looks but got the sniffles, or worse, from Impish Lee’s existing fabric selections, which largely feature synthetic nylon-spandex blends.
“In general, I think women were very hopeful that we would produce garments with a natural material,” Ventresca told Innovate LI. “We also introduced it for customers who have allergies to some of the non-natural materials.”
The effort to “incorporate a sustainable, natural material” would stretch for months, she added, with Ventresca and her sister, cofounder Kali Ventresca, expressing “an initial interest in cotton” and then testing a wide range of fibers with varying levels of natural content.
“We looked at natural fibers for a long while,” Noelle Ventresca noted. “It’s taken this long to scout out all the fabrics that we liked, pick the colors we like, test how the fabrics would relate with the other fabrics we have in stock.
“After doing a whole lot of testing, we made a bunch of samples and did a photo shoot.”
The entrepreneurial sisters ultimately settled on modal jersey. The natural-synthetic blend, which incorporates cellulose fibers from beechwood pulp, can be as much as 60 percent synthetic, but the blend weaving its way into Impish Lee’s robes and teddies is 95 percent beechwood and only 5 percent spandex, according to Ventresca.
It’s not quite 100 percent all-natural, but it’s about as close as a blend can get – and it does so without spiking Impish Lee’s costs or prices, Ventresca noted.
“When we were scouting fabrics, we also looked for something that would work in our price range,” she said. “This fit right in.”
Most importantly, the fiber “has the feel of a very soft cotton,” the cofounder added, instantly ranking as “the softest fabric that we have, by far.”
“It is so unbelievably soft,” Ventresca said. “And it’s light. We have velvet, which is very soft, but it’s a thicker fabric. Modal has a lightness to it that’s great for summer.”
As an added bonus, modal jersey is “not transparent” – a not-insignificant benefit for customers still working up to their most-daring heights, according to the entrepreneur.
“We can add lace and mesh that’s transparent, but we wanted to offer another fabric that was going to be completely opaque,” Ventresca said.
For Impish Lee – which showed a touch of mainstream savvy in June, when it debuted a customizable lingerie line inspired by super-heroic Amazonian princess Wonder Woman – the hunt for the ideal natural fiber was a significant challenge.
But with the modal jersey in stock and ready to take the form of each customer’s dreams, the Ventresca sisters believe the effort was worth it – and will resonate with ecologically minded audiences.
“We spent a lot of extra time testing for the perfect fabric,” Ventresca said. “But now that it’s implemented, it’s an easy enough change for us, and something we know our customers want.”