Using their contacts and Emma’s experience as a fashion journalist, the duo sent out their new products to test levels of interest. They were to be pleasantly surprised.
“We were very lucky, I didn’t even call people, I just sent out packs and they called me,” Emma says. “We offer something something a bit different, we are really conscious of that.
“Because I used to be a fashion journalist, I know what’s going to be hot, so we can design things that are press-worth and attention grabbing, while still having a basic collection that works well for people who want everyday lingerie.”
Emma maintains she has a good relationship with Alex, although, like many partnerships, the two are prone to clashing.
“We work together very well, but we have our bad days,” she says. “We are very different people – she’s very avant garde and I’m much more commercial about things.
“We go to battle over shapes and colours – we fight over them at the start of each season, we won’t talk to each other for a few days because we’re so passionate about it.
“But after about two-and-a-half years working together we’ve figured out how not to press each other’s buttons.
“You can often get just one person’s vision, particularly in fashion, What’s good about our business is that it’s not a one-trick pony – it wouldn’t be as good without both our influences.”
State of Undress’ reputation has grown over the last two years to the extent where they now have 12 stockists in various countries, from Fortnum & Mason in London to Denmark’s largest department store.
Emma admits that finding finance was a struggle in the early days, with the business suffering from department stores’ insistence on large volumes of products – something that Emma and Alex simply couldn’t afford.
Fortunes have improved radically since then – with a new range set to come out in September, favourable press reviews and impending business angel investment, State of Undress can afford to plan for large sales across the globe.
“Lingerie is a growth market, it’s the new accessory, like bags,” says Emma.
“British women spend more on lingerie than anyone else – we are big spenders, we know what we want, we have a wardrobe full of lingerie and we don’t have M&S cotton knickers any more.”