For many years, sleepwear was merely an afterthought. It's not that the industry completely ignored the category, but let's just say there weren't too many on-trend sartorial solutions for the perpetual sloth. As a result, many of us crept into our beds and cozied up to Netflix wearing frumpy college T-shirts and baggy sweats. It wasn't cute, and god forbid we had to run to the bodega for milk or needed a caffeine fix.
Thankfully, a new wave of brands have cropped up to cater to this sleepy demographic of homebodies who would like to look like they're attending a chic pajama party — or any party for that matter — even if they're just headed to bed. Some of their pieces are so cute you might end up wanting other humans to see them as well — and that's the idea. Read on for five affordable and sustainable sleepwear labels that are making elegant nightwear designed to be worn in and outside of the house.
Launched this past April by Talia Schlussel, Evewear is an LA-based, eco-friendly line of retro-girlish sleepwear. Think of it as the Reformation of PJ's: The brand is rooted in ethical practices — all of the garments are made using recycled fabrics and are produced domestically by local artisans in LA — and it has a very laid-back, cool-girl aesthetic. Schlussel, a Parsons grad who spent time interning and working everywhere from Ralph Lauren to Dolce & Gabbana, created Evewear because she was tired of designing overpriced ready-to-wear. "Expensive clothing is often hung in a closet and worn infrequently," Schlussel says. "I wanted to make affordable clothing that people wore all the time. What do people wear more than anything?" The answer, of course, is sleepwear. "Women are their most confident selves while they are at home, I wanted to dress that state of mind," she explains. "In an ideal world, we would dress for ourselves, but the reality is that people dress how they want the world to see them." And since all of Evewear's garments can be worn in and out of the house, it gives women the ability to do both.
Evewear offers playful rompers with ruched shoulder caps and ruffle hems, puff-sleeve cropped tops and matching shorts, as well as a range of free-flowing frocks that could easily take you from bed to brunch. Its newly-launched fruit-themed collection comes packed with tiny cherry prints and lemons. The sweet-and-sour range fits in with Schlussel's mood board for the brand, which she says takes design cues from "The Virgin Suicides," "Heathers," and "Bring It On."
Price range: $68-$165
Shop at: Evewear
After searching her whole life for comfortable — yet supportive – bras and Earth-friendly undergarments, Rebecca Migirov decided to quit her job in the Blockchain start-up world and do it herself. "I really wanted to build things that people — especially women — need," Migirov says of launching Kala, a Brooklyn-based intimate apparel company that expanded into sleepwear this fall. Kala's core design mission centers around functionality, sustainability, comfort and inclusivity. "It's about being body positive and planet positive," Migirov explains. "I see this as the anti-Victoria's Secret."
All Kala clothing is made in the U.S. — New Jersey and New York, to be exact – by local seamstresses and sewers who are paid fair wages, and using all-natural and biodegradable fabrics from certified eco-friendly mills. The sleepwear is made using Tencel™, a man-made fabric manufactured from natural wood pulp cellulose, which is wrinkle-resistant, breathable and has the lustrous feel of silk.
The minimalist pieces are done in classic navy and poppy hues of citrus and red, and include cropped boxy cardigans, wide-leg flare pants, adjustable tanks and high-waisted shorts. The comfy garments are also equipped with pockets, making them versatile enough to wear to sleep or on a coffee date. "We want each piece we design to fill all of your at-home dressing categories, with a few items just chic enough to wear outside, too," says Migirov.
Price range: $60-$95
Shop at: Kala
No Plans launched in November and, as the name would suggest, the brand is all about making thoughtfully designed clothes for your downtime. "We wanted to start a movement or an (anti) movement that celebrates the post 9-to-5, when you're unbothered and wonderfully imperfect and truly being you," says the founder, Gwen Nguyen, who comes from a background in tech.
To accomplish this, Nguyen recruited an impressive lineup of industry alums: The brand's designer is from Opening Ceremony, the creative director hails from Net-a-Porter and the art director comes from Rent the Runway. Together, they took an open-innovation approach to their design and development process, building an Instagram community early on to get feedback on sketches. After taking polls on social media, they landed on a tight six-piece collection: a racerback cami, a short with front pleats and side slits, a camp-collared button-down, a cropped track pant, an oversized dress with pockets and a classic robe — all done in a dreamy pastel color palette.
No Plans is designed in Brooklyn and produced in Nguyen's home country of Vietnam, where her family has been involved in the textile business for nearly 50 years. The hand-washable products are made using a cupro blend, which helps them breath like cotton but feel like silk. "We made a deliberate decision to not use silk, because it was way too high maintenance for our girl," explains Nguyen.
"No-fuss, no fucks," is the overarching idea at No Plans, Nguyen says over phone. The pieces themselves can be dressed up with a pair of mules and a leather moto jacket or dressed down with slippers and a blanket. "We really wanted to tap into this whole idea of embracing the secret satisfaction of canceled plans," explains Nguyen. "Sometimes you just want to stay in. Forget fear of missing out, we want to embrace the joy of missing out."
Price range: $39-$129
Shop at: No Plans
Rebecca Smith spent 12 years building global mega-brands like Hervé Leger and Lulu Guinness, and during this time, she found herself getting frustrated with the sleepwear market: "I couldn't find a product or a brand that spoke to my needs or my wallet," she says. Enter: Recliner. Smith launched the Brooklyn-based, direct-to-consumer label in November 2015.
In addition to bamboo jersey button-down sets and T-shirt dresses built for bed, she also uses a washable silk on boudoir-inspired kimono robes and various collared tops and scooped tanks. There's a robe covered in colorful sleeping pills, a collar shirt and shorts set decked in newspapers — for those who want nothing more than to spend their Sundays with The New York Times — and more pieces decorated with lipsticks and toothbrushes.
"Recliner is made up of cool, easy silhouettes that make you feel like yourself — not like you're trying to play some sort of role," Smith says. "That was the thing with the sleepwear market, it was either cute, or it was ditzy, or it was boyfriend-inspired, or it was sexy. We pride ourselves on being first and foremost a democratic brand for everyone."
Price range: $60-$195
Shop at: Recliner
Former fashion editors Kate Zubarieva and Asya Varetsa conceived of Sleeper during a revolution taking place on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine in 2014. The events led Varetsa and Zubarieva to face their fears and start a new chapter in their lives. "We came up with the idea of creating a company with its own voice — one which would bring joy to simple situations," says Varetsa.
Zubarieva dreamt of waking up in a pajama factory while napping one Christmas; she shared the vision with Varetsa and together they decided to make elegant nightwear that would surpass its original and expected purpose. "We favor the idea of unassuming chic [moments] of everyday life," explains Zubarieva. "You wake up in your pajamas, throw over a coat, slip in sneakers or mules and voila: you are ready to go out for your morning cup of coffee." Better yet, you could wear Sleeper to a New Year's Eve party and win best-dressed, as many of the sets are embellished with marabou feathers. Or, you could wear some of their breezy linen dresses to a summer gathering and be the belle of the jammies ball.
Sleeper is now sold at a range of retailers, from Moda Operandi to Shopbop. But the founders' ultimate goal is to open an office and brick-and-mortar store in New York, as well as pop-ups. They also hope to expand their Kiev factory, where they currently produce all their garments, into an education center for the next generation of garment workers.
Price range: $200-$390