Bamboo isn’t just panda food anymore. Bamboo is quickly becoming an alternative to wood for flooring and fences as well as to cotton for t-shirts and socks because of its sustainability. (Bamboo grows rapidly and without pesticides, which means bamboo uses fewer natural resources than other plants and has a smaller impact on our environment.) But did you know that bamboo also makes for a comfortable pair of underwear? Jennifer Lynne Matthews, founder and designer of Porcelynne Lingerie, does just that-she makes her undergarments from a sustainable bamboo blend.
Matthews originally developed Porcelynne Lingerie in 2002 as an alternative to uncomfortable underwear. Focused on fit, she hand makes all of her garments, from underwear to sports bras, tank tops to sleep masks. Since day one, Matthews’s products have been environmentally friendly: she makes all her lingerie from fabrics rescued from factory cutting floors, preventing them from ending up in a landfill. Her newest line of lingerie is made from a sustainable bamboo blend, which is not only soft but also naturally antibacterial and biodegradable. Matthews chose bamboo not only because it is a quality product and good for the environment, but also because she can help to educate her clientele about sustainable practices through her actions. And Matthews’s sustainable practices don’t end with her products; Porcelynne Lingerie uses no plastic wrap in its shipping products and packaging is used sparingly.
Besides being an eco-conscious entrepreneur, artist and fashion designer, Matthews is also a teacher at San Francisco’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and the author of Fashion Unraveled: How to Start, Run, and Manage an Independent Fashion Label. With her teaching and her book, she serves as a mentor to her students, offering advice on how to run a successful business and produce innovative fashions in a sound manner. She also participates in regional industry leadership circles and co-founded a fashion industry group in Oakland to further support budding entrepreneurs. Calling Matthews’s work “sustainable,” therefore, has a double meaning: she uses sustainable practices in her own business and supports and nurtures other budding fashion entrepreneurs so that they will create and maintain successful businesses.