Designing Lingerie That Celebrates Inclusivity, Sexuality, and Comfort

Copenhagen-based lingerie brand Moons & Junes is designed to fit all body types and make people feel confident in their own skin. Founder Agneta Bjerre-Madsen opened up to talk about the design process and the concept behind her brand.Copenhagen-based lingerie brand Moons & Junes is designed to fit all body types and make people feel confident in their own skin. Founder Agneta Bjerre-Madsen opened up to talk about the design process and the concept behind her brand.

Giorgia Lombardo

24/06/2021 7 min read DESIGN DOGS

Moons & Junes is disrupting the traditional lingerie industry by developing underwear and supportive bralettes that are catered for all women — yes, all women! While offering elegant shapes and beautiful colors, this brand puts comfort first, providing garments that adapt to every woman’s body.

The brand, whose name comes from Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Both Sides Now’, is on a mission to improve the self-confidence of all women across the globe and include and represent them —  with all their beautiful shapes and colors. This is surely one of the reasons why Moons & Junes has gained so much success and attention; women no longer want to compare their bodies to those of supermodels or what they see in magazines and hyper-curated social media. 

At Moons & Junes, they also listen to customer feedback and adapt their designs accordingly. This allows them to create products that customers actually want and need. The entire ‘Unapologetic’ collection was made in collaboration with consumers; through Instagram polls and focus groups, Moons & Junes found out what their customers wanted and designed the pieces based on the answers. To gather even more feedback, Moons & Junes also periodically hosts fittings with customers and volunteers.

We had a chat with Agnete Bjerre-Madsen, founder of Moons & Junes, to learn more about the design process and the core ideas behind the brand.

Your website states “no underwire, no padding, no bullshit”. What’s the concept behind Moons & Junes?

It comes from a dream and a vision of making underwear that fits as many different body types as possible and that’s truly comfortable. We want to create underwear that adapts to people’s bodies – it’s not meant to work the other way around. For a long time, lingerie meant pulling and tugging, push-ups and corsets. My vision is to get rid of all these ‘extras’ and prioritize comfort and support whilst providing cute designs.

From Moons & Junes

When and why did you start this business?

During my Bachelor’s, about four years ago. It started off as a hobby on the side of my studies, but then it eventually became a small business — we launched our website in early 2017. I never had a vision of it becoming a huge startup, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. I didn’t want to regret not trying.

Moons & Junes has been a very intuitive and organic project for me. In March 2020, right before the pandemic, we launched a campaign called ‘Unapologetic’, which was about owning your sexuality shamelessly. It took off quickly, which was really exciting. It was also the first professional campaign we developed — hiring an entire cast of designers and photographers, opposed to the previous ones that were shot by me. COVID massively increased our sales too. People being at home wanting to spend money on something comfortable found value in Moons & Junes.

How do you design your pieces and fits? What is the process like?

The creation of a collection usually starts with a campaign idea. I’ll give you an example of our organic cotton collection, Notice. This came up as I was quarantining for two and a half months on a small Danish island with my boyfriend. During this time I reconnected with Earth, did yoga and ate good food. I started envisioning soft earthy pictures, portraying beautiful people of different sizes and ages in a field, surrounded by flowers. It should ooze peacefulness. After envisioning these pictures the question arose ‘so what do the models wear?’ And this is where product development begins. It’s a weird order, but it always happens that way.

Audre Bra. From Moons & Junes

Colors also matter a lot to me. When I design a new collection, I’m obsessed with colours and shapes. As soon as we have a broad idea of what a product should look like, we make a prototype and host fittings to get direct feedback from customers. In this industry, companies usually start designing a piece in size Medium and then multiply it by x to get a size Large, and divide it by x to get a size Small. The design grows following the same proportion, but it’s very rare that bodies actually do that. At Moons & Junes, we develop each size in different proportions, just like the bodies they’re meant for. This makes the design process long, tedious, and very iterative, but also worth it! We revisit feedback a lot, altering our samples and making new ones as we develop the product.

On your website you say that ‘customers let you in on their wildest underwear dreams via Instagram, and you make the products live up to their wants and need-to-haves’. What are the needs that have emerged the most?

Venus bra. From Moons & Junes

Comfort, support – and of course, cute looking styles. Comfort can be achieved in many different ways, one of our tricks is something as simple as avoiding stitching on the sensitive areas, getting rid of scratchy labels and by using silky soft fabrics. Our customers also want support. This is why – for instance – the straps of our bras run down each side of the cup, so when you tighten the strap, it doesn’t just pull at the centre, it lifts the entire breast. Little things like this make a big difference when it comes to comfort and support. 

Many of our customers have larger breasts. We discovered that they often can’t find comfortable bras, without thick straps, underwire and padding, making them feel like they’re wearing a harness. To avoid this, we offer bras, like Audre, that is specifically catered to women with bigger bust and smaller under bust — they are in high demand!

There are also women who have smaller busts, like myself. Not too long ago I was searching for a balconette bra, but I couldn’t find one that fit me. So many women want to wear lingerie to feel beautiful, but so often we end up standing in dressing rooms with products that don’t fit. One thing is wearing something uncomfortable, but another is not finding anything that fits you – it sucks. I really wanted to make a bra that made me feel sexy and that didn’t alter my physique —  underwear that puts emphasis on my own curves rather than creating new ones. This is exactly what led to the creation of our Venus bra.

Venus Bra. From Moons & Junes

Customers are becoming more aware of the impact that the fashion industry has on the environment. How does Moons & Junes take sustainability into account?

Sustainability is immensely important. We work with certified organic cotton as well recycled fabrics; our swimwear line is created with a polyester made of 98% recycled plastic bottles. Our mailers are all compostable, the boxes we ship with are all made from recycled materials. 

We don’t follow seasons, distancing ourselves from fast fashion. We prioritize quality to ensure longevity of our products. On top of this we manufacture all our products in Europe at a family owned factory to be fully aware of the entire supply chain. This factory is completely transparent and has all the certificates we need. It is however a jungle – we’ve spent countless hours grasping its complexity. Greenwashing is all over. What actually makes a difference for the environment, and what is just a marketing stunt.

Medusa swimsuit and Brizo top + Iris bottom. From Moons & Junes

Your brand is very inclusive of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Plus, you use unedited images of your models. This can truly help women feel more confident in their own skin. Was this the goal of the campaign ‘Unapologetic’?

The intention of ‘Unapologetic’ was to tap into shameless sexual expression. We wanted to erase the male gaze by putting the wearer first. Sex doesn’t just exist within the frames of monogamy and heteronormativity, and what about the sex where the sender and receiver is the same?  We wanted sexuality to be empowering and to remove the performativity of it. That’s why we called it ‘Unapologetic’. We had nine models, all very different from each other. They were given the space to express themselves, unapologetically, no matter what that looked like to them. 

Seeing diversity and representation in the media can really make a huge difference in improving the relationship women have with their own image. What are your thoughts on this?

Representation is crucial. The body ideals that the media portrays are incredibly narrow. We need to broaden our perspective and normalize bodies of various shapes, sizes, colors and ages. For this reason we always shoot a wide cast of models that cover our range. And we never photoshop our models. We hope that when people see our campaigns they are inspired by the models’ attitude and confidence rather than their hip to waist ratio. Realism is beautiful and confidence is sexy – that’s what we want to promote. 

The further I work at Moons & Junes, the more I realise that it’s a self help project; for years, I needed push-up bras to get bigger, firmer, rounder breasts. The only result of the push-ups was that I got disappointed when I took it off at night. When I see my body in the mirror today, I don’t get disappointed anymore; instead I think “that’s me, and that’s okay”. Getting to a point where underwear just sits there comfortably is extremely empowering to me. 

So many people, and especially women, struggle with self image – and there’s no simple fix to that. We can tell ourselves that we should  “love ourselves” and “be comfortable in our own skin”, but it’s a lot more complex . I have personally had insecurities about my body, but I’ve never been discriminated against based on my appearance. I am straight, cis, slim and white. These are privileges. Body positivity is not as simple as a #girlpower hashtag and we still have a long way to go. Playing an active role in this through Moons & Junes is very rewarding.

Speaking of self acceptance, you provide a space called ‘Bits and Boobs’ where women can view and share untouched images of their bodies. Can you tell us more about it? 

Bits and Boobs is a project that started in my late teenage years, after I had expressed some insecurities about my breasts. I reached out to my friends asking if they could send me a picture of their breasts. And many of them did! Seeing that bodies look so different from each other was good for me. It was like going to a public swimming area, seeing all the diversity in people’s bodies. It was reassuring to me. After I started my business, I realised that that project could be part of Moons & Junes too, so I created a space where more people could be exposed to all the beautiful things I was fortunate enough to be exposed to. And of course with their consent, I started sharing the material online, and people really seemed to like it! It turned into a total movement.

Supporting small businesses and designers is important. Why is it important to you?

I like that it supports individuals, and not monopolies. Supporting small businesses allows you to ditch fast fashion, helping reduce the environmental damage caused by it. Usually, the supply chain also looks a lot different for smaller businesses, and oftentimes it’s built on values that don’t just focus on immediate capitalization and exploitation of a lot of people.

What do you name your pieces after?

I tend to name products after people and things that inspire me. For example, we have Audrey named after Audre Lorde, Coco named after Coco Chanel, or Mata named after the spy Mata Hari. I love to name my products after empowering people in history. However we also have a bra named after one of my best friends, and one called Venus, because it’s just so feminine and vibrant.

Currently you offer underwear and swimwear, are you planning to expand onto something else?

I’m very inspired by turning Junes & Moons into more of a universe that provides other things that are more community oriented. Making underwear is my absolute passion, but I don’t want to limit Moons and Junes creative vision to that. The sky’s the limit!

Design Matters 21 will take place in Copenhagen on Sep 29–30, 2021! We will explore new movements in digital design, and an amazing cast of digital designers will share their stories, expertise, and learnings.

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