ALL ARE WELCOME: Les Girls Les Boys founder Serena Rees liked that her company’s label can be read in either direction since inclusivity is the bedrock of her business.
The one-year-old label has teamed with Opening Ceremony for cobranded underwear, cotton ribbed tanks and three-pair packs that are geared for fret-free holiday shopping. In tune with the unisex trend, many pieces are designed to be worn by women or men. “Anything goes — we just want people to have that freedom like themselves and to not feel limited, constrained or put in boxes in any way.”
Available in recycled packaging, the cobranded offerings will hit Opening Ceremony stores next week, as well as both companies’ e-commerce sites. Retailing from $35 up to $145, the items will be the only underwear sold in Opening Ceremony’s stores. Having been making bras, underwear and tanks “for a very good part” of her career, Rees said she aims to provide great quality, great fabric, great design at an accessible prince point. From her standpoint, the super-high-end luxury sector is going to change, as is throwaway culture “that is way too cheap and will just be landfill.” Rees said more people are realizing that “no one really benefits from that.”
In her early 20s, Rees and a friend started Agent Provocateur. “It was really before the Internet took off. There was no social media. Our messaging was strong. What we were saying was that we want that fashionability that wasn’t available. We brought that fashionability to that market,” she said. “We were saying, ‘Be proud of who you are. Be in control of who you are. It’s your power.’”
After Agent Provocateur was sold to a private equity firm for 60 million pounds in 2007, Rees had no intention of working in lingerie again. She declined when “practically every lingerie brand you can think of” approached her about turning their businesses around or collaborating. Over time, she recognized how her children, her stepchildren and friends’ children were struggling with social media and how its unrealistic imagery made them feel they were supposed to live up to it in some way, shape or form. “There was so much oversexualized imagery coming from brands like Victoria’s Secret and Agent Provocateur. They kind of lost their way and went too far with people wearing less and less clothes. It wasn’t actually sexy anymore. It was damaging to how people were perceiving themselves and how they thought they had to be,” Rees said.
As the owner of a lingerie brand in the Nineties (when this ideal started to gain momentum), Rees allowed this may have been something she “was partly responsible for in the beginning that just went too far and way out of her control.”
But social media stars, especially those wearing increasingly less clothing in their posts, made the situation “more and more fake, unreachable and not relevant to this day and age,” she said. “These kids need to be taught that the best you can be and the sexiest you can be — if you even want to be sexy — is to be yourself. Don’t feel like you have to live up to this imagery or this supposed ideal, which it’s not.”
Les Girls Les Boys is her response to all of that, and is relevant to what is going on socially and politically now. “The timing couldn’t be better with the whole #MeToo movement and Time’s Up,” she said, adding that the brand is for boys, as well, “who don’t rally together and talk about body issues, mistreatment and similar issues in the ways that girls do.”
To relay the brand’s be-yourself ethos, photographer Ellen Fedors shot herself wearing Les Girls Les Boys for the brand’s site and social media channels. Opening Ceremony also has the images to use at their discretion.