Underwear has traditionally been designed with the male gaze in mind - think lace, push-up bras and impractical, uncomfortable styles that feel increasingly out of touch with the mood of the modern woman. It’s difficult to see this ever changing on a large scale, but it’s always refreshing to come across individuals who are revolutionising things in their own way.
Enter London-based label MARIEYAT – a line of underwear designed to make you look at the humble bra and knicker in an altogether different way. Marie was born and raised in Hong Kong before moving to London to study womenswear design at Central Saint Martins. She began designing underwear from a place of personal need, “I have an interest in all kinds of lingerie” says Marie, “but realised that I rarely find underwear that is interesting, unconventional and comfortable to wear everyday.”
The result is a collection of pieces that take inspiration from unisex dressing - representing female sensuality in a different way to the usual fussy, strappy options we’re so bombarded with. Marie’s designs use comfortable cotton and natural silks to create functional styles that still manage to look ahead of the aesthetic curb.
She believes that when it comes to underwear, comfort is key. “Our main challenge is to create pieces that are comfortable and alluring,” she says “Comfort comes first, however the appearance should be not compromised.”
We’re self-confessed sticklers for comfort, especially when it comes to what we wear under our clothes, and underwear that focuses on working with your body (rather than pushing it up or sucking it in) is something we are totally on board with.
Marieyat’s oh-so-double-tap-worthy Instagram is brimming with beautiful, seamless imagery featuring a diverse mix of girls and their bodies. And that’s not the only thing that’s seamless. “We use a circular knitting machine which means the fabric is knitted without any side seams,” says Marie. So lumps, bumps or awkward seams digging into your side are a thing of the past. This minimalist approach means that Marie has to think cleverly about the end product, “You have to consider how to put the creativity in subtly without changing the original function of the product” she says.
Well, if her stylised lookbooks and editorially inspired images are anything to go by, we think she’s doing something right. Rarely photographing anyone outside of her friendship group, the MARIEYAT girls are strong and confident, with little concern for the ‘male gaze’. “We look for girls who have their own character and are very comfortable and confident in their own skin and body.”
Her approach to ethics is equally as modern. “We mainly focus on natural fibres” says Marie, admitting that sustainability has a very wide definition for her label, “We work with people that we trust, are conscious on the amount we are producing and design pieces that will last for more than one season.” Like many young designers, sustainability is ingrained in the ethos of the brand from the get-go, viewed as integral rather than additional. These aren’t pieces to stay tangled at the back of your knicker drawer or lose elasticity after just one wear.
MARIEYAT are challenging a market so heavily set in its ways and pushing boundaries with cool, wearable underwear for the cool and conscious girl. We approve! “The mainstream perception of “women’s lingerie” has limited the market’s choice,” concludes Marie “however there’s a lot more possibilities and boundaries to push, it’s actually quite exciting to shake things up a little bit!” We couldn’t agree more and and we’re excited to see what’s next for MARIEYAT.
Words: Lucy Vincent
All images: MARIEYAT