Happy, comfortable and confident. This is the way Kristin Bear, owner and design director of luxury lingerie brand Kilo Brava, wants her brand to make the wearer feel. When starting Kilo Brava in the fall of 2019 based in NYC, Bear had two goals: to make attainable designer lingerie and make it as successful as possible. Drawing on her experience working for companies that charged high amounts for lingerie, she wanted to create a brand that was not only affordable but inclusive and fun as well.
“I’ve worked for companies where the product was so expensive and even with a good salary I wouldn’t buy a $50 pair of panties,” she explained. So she set out to change that. Kilo Brava makes designer panties for as low as $15 and designer pajama sets (in simulated silk) that would otherwise retail for $600, which cost $115.
According to Bear, who relocated to Colorado in early 2021, Kilo Brava is meant for trend-forward and fun women. She has crafted her brand to be bold, often colorful, and always a bit whimsical. It’s for women of any age who love special things and making themselves feel good.
Kilo Brava’s Origins
When Bear decided to start the brand, she called upon a family activity to come up with a name. Her father was in the Army and served in Vietnam, and afterward became a pilot. “It is a big part of him and his identity, and growing up he would jokingly walk around the house saying Alpha this, Bravo that. The nato-phonetic alphabet,” Bear explained. “My initials are KB and in the phonetic alphabet is Kilo Bravo. I changed ‘bravo’ to ‘brava’ since it’s the feminine version of the word.”
When starting her brand, size inclusivity and affordability were extremely important to Bear. The brand launched with a size range of small to 2x and has since added size 3x. “Each size is a cost to develop and there are minimum order quantities we have to agree to for production, but as we grow, so does our size range,” Bear explained.
These two ideals are the backbone of Kilo Brava and remain so.
The Inspiration Behind Kilo Brava
When creating new collections for the brand, Bear focuses on a different theme, era or female icons for the season. She decides on her overarching theme before designing the collection by doing trend research and just lets it “take me where I feel things are going”, she explained. “I love vintage everything, so I really find lots of inspiration there for shoots in old catalogs, movie stills and books.”
According to Bear, the ’70s inspired Kilo Brava’s newest collection. This can be seen in the colors, prints and styles. “We have a leisure suit pajama which is one of my most favorite pieces,” she said. The leisure suit can be worn at home or out, as a head-to-toe outfit. “If you wear it out you will turn heads and be super comfy at the same time so that’s clearly a win,” Bear explained.
After watching multiple seasons of the HBO staple, The Sopranos, the show’s fashion inspired Bear. “I became obsessed with the tracksuits all the guys wore in the show. I was like, ‘Why don’t ladies have these? Why don’t people wear these anymore?’” she described. She ended up designing three tracksuit collections for Kilo Brava’s fall-winter season: velour, modal and printed bamboo. Bear explained that these styles were a risk, because she normally doesn’t design such ready-to-wear styles, but she decided to go for it. Typically, she seeks out sustainably made or eco-friendly fabrics for her designs. Bear hand draws almost every design she creates, and any embroidery is sustainably hand-sewn and crafted.
The Future of Kilo Brava
Bear has high hopes for her brand, which allows her to take design risks and experiment. When asked about the future of Kilo Brava, Bear sees growth. “I just want to keep growing so that we can keep growing the brand, the collection, the inventory, the sizes,” she said. Bear has some limitations, given that Kilo Brava is a self-funded, smaller brand. “I just love doing this. I love making women feel happy in these products and just want to keep going. Home goods would be fun someday also,” she said.
For now, Bear is focused on her production process and keeping her brand affordable. She wants her customers to keep having fun, even if they’re new to lingerie. Her advice is to “start with whatever makes you feel comfortable with yourself. Matching bralette and panty sets are easy as well as pajamas and loungewear,” she said. “Lingerie is not always fancy, pink, frilly, sheer or black and crazy sexy. There’s so much out there for everyone,” she explained. She went on to say that lingerie is not just for a special night. “Every woman that wears a bra and panties is wearing lingerie, whether they realize that or not,” she discussed.
The most important thing for Bear is that her customers like how they feel and look. Lingerie can be effective in any situation: “that matching bra and panty is a confidence boost on an important day and that matching pajama set is a put-together feel on a normal crazy hectic morning with your kids” she said.
All photos by Jeannie Albers.