To celebrate this International Women’s Day (and really, shouldn’t that simply be everyday?!), we’re profiling some incredible women in the lifestyle space. First up, Stephanie Powers, designer at Canadian lingerie brand Siella. Designed by women for women, Siella aims for Canadians to feel empowered by their undergarments. This message is integrated throughout Stephanie’s comfortable-yet-sensual designs that move away from the male gaze typically seen in the lingerie industry. —Noa Nichol
Please tell us a bit about your designer self to start.
I am originally from a small coastal town in Newfoundland, Canada. I moved to Montreal in 2004 to study Fashion Design, and now have over 15 years of experience designing womenswear for several Canadian brands and across specialty markets, including maternity and now lingerie.
When and why did you join Canadian lingerie brand Siella? What makes the brand, and working there, different/unique/special?
I joined Siella back in January 2021. I was really attracted to the company for its smaller size and family-like values. My favourite thing about working at Siella is definitely the people. Everyone at the organization is highly talented, but with different strengths that complement each other, resulting in extremely successful teamwork. Given that we are a team of women designing for women, we can personally relate and understand our clients needs and challenges, and I believe this is what sets Siella apart from other Canadian lingerie brands.
In terms of its, and your, designs, how does Siella aim to make clients feel in their underclothes? How do you infuse your designs with that philosophy?
At Siella, our aim is to make our clients feel comfortable and beautiful. We believe that sexy lingerie shouldn’t be uncomfortable, and comfortable doesn’t have to equal boring. One of the main ways we infuse this philosophy into our designs is with our fabrics; we spend a lot of time researching and developing fabrics that are both functional yet soft against the skin.
“Stephanie’s comfortable yet sensual designs move away from the male gaze typically seen in the lingerie industry.” Can you unpack this statement for us?
At Siella, we are designing for the woman; what she wants and needs from her underwear and bras versus focusing on a fantasy that men would like to see. My goal is to empower women by offering them lingerie that flatters their bodies and makes them feel good versus manipulating their bodies to fit an unattainable beauty standard. While designing, I work to create silhouettes that help women love their bodies as they are so that they go out into the world feeling confident.
How is the lingerie space changing? What challenges remain in the space that still need to be tackled/addressed/overcome?
We are definitely seeing more comfort and function-led companies emerging onto the lingerie market, but there remains a misconception that comfortable underwear consists of the stereotypical granny panties—boring and unsexy. I’ve heard people say that women are “giving up“ by switching to comfortable underwear, which is not the message we want out there; women should not feel ashamed for wearing undergarments that make them feel comfortable, which is the stigma that we are trying to overcome at Siella.
How can we, as women, “take back” lingerie?
I think that women can “take back” lingerie by focusing on what we want and need to feel good about ourselves versus what society has led us to believe we should look like. This applies to every aspect from the creation of lingerie, being specifically designed for our bodies, all the way to ensuring marketing campaigns feature a diverse group of women and are not hypersexualized.
What’s a personal challenge for you as a lingerie designer?
The biggest challenge as a lingerie designer is that no two bodies are the same. At Siella, we spend a lot of time perfecting our fits on live models of all shapes and sizes in efforts to find the best possible fit that caters to an array of women.
What are some of your favourite pieces from Siella, and why?
Some of my favourite pieces from Siella are our No Show panties! They are buttery soft against the skin, super stretchy for a comfortable fit that doesn’t dig in, and are invisible under even the tightest jeans. These are a must-have in every woman’s underwear drawer.