lingerie label marieyat takes inspiration from the world's last matriarchy
London-based underwear, loungewear and swimwear label MARIEYAT looks to China's Kingdom of Women for its latest collection, and adds men’s underwear for the first time.
Photography Ronan McKenzie
From the moment MARIEYAT was launched in 2013 by Marie, its London-based CSM-grad founder, the brand has cultivated a world of female empowerment and its message has always been: inspired by women, created by women, made for women. For its fourth collection -- as they add men’s underwear for the first time -- MARIEYAT took inspiration from the Mosuo tribe in China, close to the Tibetan border. “They’re the world’s only true matriarchal society, where women raise women,” Marie explained at the intimate, on-schedule London Fashion Week presentation.
“Women from the Mosuo tribe do not marry, take as many lovers as they wish and have no word for ‘father’ or ‘husband’", Shahesta Shaitly explained in an Observer feature back in 2010. In the Kingdom of Women -- as it’s known across China -- the Mosuo women make the key decisions. “There are parallels to how we work as a team of women, we are all working towards the same goal and we’re all equal,” Marie explained. That’s a powerful message. At a time in which fashion critics are contemplating the industry’s reactions to the toxic masculinity pandemic across society, the need for labels that truly respect women is greater than ever. As we exclusively share frequent MARIEYAT collaborator and regular i-D contributor Ronan McKenzie’s visual documentation of the creative female-powered launch, it should be clear to see that MARIEYAT truly respects women.
With each yearly release the label listens to the needs of its women and the range evolves accordingly. “We began by offering an alternative style of underwear that just didn’t exist in the market,” she explained. “We wanted to create styles that were comfortable to wear everyday, while being unconventional and rich in interesting details." With its growing family of women in mind, this balancing act between comfort and sensuality has been the continuous thread between each of the brand's first four collections.
“I’ve always wanted to take it slow, to grow organically so we pace ourselves on the process of making, creating a new collection once a year instead of seasonally," Marie explained. "By doing so we are able to get feedback and utilise this to develop our range of products." It's this desire to satisfy the needs of the women who continually inspire them that quietly and steadily drive MARIEYAT forward. After introducing swimwear last year and new styles of underwear and knitwear this year, MARIEYAT has listened to the pleas of men and expanded into men’s underwear for the first time. After showing the collection earlier this month, it’s dropping in-stores now. A new business model for a new generation.
“Since we started, we’ve had men approach us on emails and socials because quite rightly, they assumed we could transform it into menswear. We held off because we wanted the women’s to be where we wanted it to be. We wanted its signatures to be recognised and then branch out. I don’t want the men’s to be that different from the women’s, so that’s why we created this set-up, the idea of a family.”
Centred around the idea of an empowered community, they worked with with London-based casting agency 11casting to ensure that alongside MARIEYAT muses, the new collection was worn by friends, friends-of-friends and an actual family. With the launch of men’s, the brand’s family has just been extended.