Tove Langseth always knew that she wanted to do something on her own, she just didn’t know what it was. After working for years as a creative director, and eventually CEO at an advertising agency in Stockholm, Tove knew something was missing. “Working as a CEO was a big change for me,” Tove explains, “because it was my first time not working creatively. I wanted to get back to some of that creativity.”
She continues, “I got to a point where it felt like, I can either spend the next ten years doing the same thing, or I can make a big leap in my life. I chose the leap!”
Tove began consulting while she figured out the next step. “I knew I wanted to be deeply involved with a brand from the inception, and so I waiting for the right opportunity.” During that time, Tove and her business partner Filip were contracted by Swedish retailer Lindex to look into the intimates market. “We started doing this research and came up with a really interesting brand model. We both realized that, actually, we wanted to be the ones to run this company.”
At that time, Tove felt what was currently offered on the market was decidedly un-modern. “Victoria’s Secret seemed so out of touch in terms of addressing bodies and diversity. There was also the digitalization element, which the intimates market hadn’t really been able to crack. And then there was the lack of focus on sustainability, which is such an important part of creating anything. So there were these three elements of creating a great new intimates business that we saw were missing from the market. When Philip and I became emotionally invested in the idea of this brand, it became really easy to see what we wanted to bring into it to make it the best it could be,” she explains.
Lindex, who had originally hired the duo to do the market research, loved the idea of Tove and Filip taking the reins, and Closely was born. “They became our biggest investor,” she says, “and they helped with things like securing an office, sourcing, and even finding our factories. Often, small businesses struggle to find good factories because the minimum order numbers can be outrageous. Lindex actually came with us into our factory in Sri Lanka, so by bringing them in as well, we were able to meet minimums. That was a huge help for us.”
Closely launched in October of 2020. Their vision is about clothes that create a sense of freedom; freedom to move, and freedom to feel comfortable in one’s own body. They aim to be size-inclusive, with sports products from XXS to 3XL and lace products from XXS to XL. Their T-shirt bra comes in 44 sizes, up to 100E.
In addition, the brand includes the carbon footprint of each item on the website, as well as the percentage of recycled material. Closely uses as much recycled material as possible in their products, with a goal of continuing to increase that percentage. “We’re committed to using recycled materials,” says Tove, “but our issue has been in finding recycled materials that are also highly functional. So we keep finding better and better ways to integrate those materials.”
As for the digital aspect of the business, that’s presented more challenges than the average online clothing business. “I understand why it would be difficult to buy intimates online. Things like sizing and consistency can be really hard to achieve! We have a very extensive sizing guide on the website and so far, our customers have been happy with our sizing,” Tove notes.
One way that Closely has achieved this consistency is in building a community of women who test their products. “When we started, we wanted to get 2.000 women to test our various products. We now have many thousands of women! It’s been such an important way for us to get feedback and to hear the needs of our customers and future customers. Every body is different, and every body deserves to have intimates that feel good. Our community is helping us to make that a reality.”
On her journey as an entrepreneur, Tove says that her experience running agencies certainly prepared her. “If I had to say what my most important lesson has been, it’s that you need to set a clear direction and stick to that. You have to be really honest about your vision for the people that work with you, so they know where you’re headed,” Tove says.
By bringing together a true appreciation for body difference, a curiosity for how to make intimates both beautiful and functional, and a desire for modernization of an industry that has long relied on brick-and-mortar retail, Closely has positioned itself as a new kind of intimates brand. That’s worth a closer look.
Shop Closely now.