While designing a new bra recently, Baserange founder Marie-Louise Mogensen had to ask herself why. Why am I putting another product into this world? This gut instinct for restraint and thoughtfulness has been a guiding force for the European undergarment brand since its inception in 2012, when Mogensen and her friend Blandine de Verdelhanfelt felt they had to address the dominance of the male gaze in the lingerie industry. “The initial goal wasn’t to make clothes; we wanted to make pictures, pictures of women without retouching, pictures of them in big underpants that held them,” Mogensen tells me. “In the beginning it felt like we were making images that weren’t available elsewhere.”
Pioneering at the time, Baserange grew into itself as other brands caught up. It is not quite a household name like a Wolford or a Falke, but it’s on its way: a department store staple and a regular namedrop by upwardly mobile creatives during invasive lifestyle magazine Q&As. Baserange’s at-the-time radical campaigns of pretty cellulite pocked legs have now similarly become the status quo. Body positivity and female designed labels are one of lingerie’s most forward-facing trends, evident in the popularity of Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty drops, the codification of indie brands like Hello Beautiful and Araks and the emancipation of Playboy magazine from the airbrush.
“When money comes in, marketing takes over. So, I’m not sure how much real change has been accomplished, but hopefully it has opened up a conversation that I still believe in,” Mogensen says.
While representation is one vehicle for inclusion, more than a decade since launching, Mogensen is convinced that casting is just a drop in the bucket. “I’m not sure everyone is necessarily more comfortable or safe in their skin than we were a decade ago,” she says. “Representation has a place but it can’t be where the discussion or action dies. Then it’s just a performance.”
Slowing down, Mogensen and her colleagues have spent the pandemic actively thinking about ways to break free from the inertia of the norm. She estimates that now she and her colleagues spend at least 30 percent of their time in the studio thinking collectively, rather than working in a “production-only” mode. This has been a kind of return for Mogensen, who watched Baserange leave the nest and take on a life of its own. “At the beginning it was just us, talking, sewing,” she recalls. “When a brand becomes bigger, it cannot be like this, there are many voices involved. It was our conversations and relationship with our clients and our producers that led the way. We learned from one another and pushed ourselves to create garments that allowed for new techniques and innovations.”
The team aspect seems to be what keeps Mogensen engaged these days. Her proudest accomplishment is the Baserange community, the personnel and the clients, and she remains dubious about the crank of seasonal output as a bellwether for success. “I am convinced we can find ways to change and become better, more sustainable, kinder, but I think in order to do that we have to collectively invest in uncertainty,” Mogensen says. “It is a messy time, and I think we need to embrace that rather than fight it. We need to dare to imagine new models.” It’s a different mission than the one the label was originally created to fulfill but it’s tailored to the moment, like everything else at Baserange.