British Lingerie Brand Neon Moon Wants To Shake Up Our Beauty Standards
The Debrief: We meet Hayat Rachi, founder of the UK's first 'feminist' lingerie brand
What do you see when you imagine your average lingerie campaign? Gravity-defying cleavage, a dead-eyed stare and skin so airbrushed you can barely spot pores, let alone any wrinkles or body hair? Well, that’s one thing that 25-year-old entrepreneur Hayat Rachi is trying to change about the industry with Neon Moon, Britain’s first ‘feminist lingerie’ brand.
‘I was very frustrated that the lingerie market out there,’ she tells the Debrief. 'I was just bombarded with sexualised and objectified women in scantily clad outfits and I felt like I couldn’t affiliate with any of that.'
Instead of underwear that sucks you in and pads you out, Neon Moon is presented as a body-positive label that's designed to ‘work around the body, instead of the other way around’. Right now, that translates to a cute capsule collection of bra and knicker sets that emphatically reject padding, push-up or wiring in favour of comfortable bamboo. My favourite? The tac-tac bra in chartreuse yellow, which comes in a sporty style. Judging by how many women have enthusiastically reblogged or tweeted about the project – Zooey Deschanel included – there are thousands of people who are into them too.
Growing up as an Arab girl in London, Hayat never saw women like her represented in the media – by any clothing brand, let alone an underwear one. But after scoring a ticket to London Fashion Week, she hustled her way into Elle and then worked a string of disillusioning jobs before finally coming up with Neon Moon. 'I felt like, "You know what? I do't have a job at the moment, I have severance pay, let me risk it and see where it gets me.'
With the help of the Prince's Trust, Hayat got her initial business plan off the ground – but after pouring her life's savings into the project, she turned to Kickstarter to help fund the rest. She's already hit her target (and £2,000 extra to boot) with seven days to spare. Call me crazy, but I think this business just might work.
So what does feminist lingerie even mean? For starters, can your bra-burning jokes. 'For me I just love lingerie,' Hayat says. 'I love bras and knickers. It’s the most intimate garment a person can wear. If you want to perpetuate body positivity, why not use the mot intimate garment out there?
But when she looked around the world of frillies and lacy underthings, she never saw anyone who represented her values. 'It’s really unfortunate that cellulite, underarm hair, acne, leg hair, all these things that are natural to the human body - if [women] want to embrace that, then they should. Brands need to be encompassing of the values and ethos of a feminist girl. It needs to not objectify women, but empower," she argues passionately. "It’s about diversity, too. I want to include more people of colour and LGBT just to show that we can be non-binary friendly.'
For Neon Moon, that means casting women in their lookbook who fall far short of the Agent Provocateur ideal. You can see their back rolls, their belly chub, their chest zits. One of them has luxuriant armpit hair, too. They're photographed lounging around on their sofas or walking around their bedrooms. Basically, they look like what we look like in our undies. Not Penelope Cruz doing a sexy stripper dance by the poolside of some mythical Ibiza beach villa.
'The lingerie industry has never affiliated with me, that’s why I created Neon Moon," she says.' But if it doesn’t affiliate with me, there’s probably a million people out there too." Here's hoping that at least half of them will end up chancing on Neon Moon sometime.
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