Creative Direction: Alexandra Weiss
Styling: Hua Hua L
Hair: Jason Chong Li
Makeup: Sena Murahashi
Model: Daniela Lalita (No Agency)
It’s been two years since minimalism took over fashion, but it finally feels like we’re nearing the end of a 24-month sentence of white frock dresses and off-the-shoulder Caribbean vacation tops, and we literally couldn’t be more excited. Of course, the whole minimalism thing trickled down in recent years to infect lingerie too, and it feels like we’re still recovering from that. Designer Bei Kuo shared the same disdain for basic—read: boring—intimates when she conceptualized her line, The End, which combines simple, organic underwear with unusual cut-outs and thick metal jewelry. With offbeat silhouettes, the brand is Kuo’s answer to the unimaginative world of eco-friendly basics. In her mind, edginess, comfort and health are not mutually exclusive––and her range mixes deviance with its own kind of innovative minimalism.
After moving to New York City for fashion school, the Taiwanese designer’s world opened up and she discovered a happier version of herself and her own beauty, developing a taste for the city’s dark, provocative undercurrents. When she wanted to get a nipple piercing after being exposed to BDSM, she decided she was too afraid––so she pierced some bras instead. And her avant-garde lingerie brand took off from there. Her first collection, “Hurt Me Harder,” combines natural cotton crop tops, bras, and underwear with cut-outs and rings where you wouldn’t normally see them, and their placement is a fuck you to the tired underwear that’s seen as conventionally sexy. Fusing kink details with a timeless simplicity, Kuo uses piercings as a way to help women feel the more rebellious aspects of their own sexuality—even if they choose to keep them hidden under their clothes.
BULLETT caught up with the designer to talk bras, business and BDSM. Read our interview and view the exclusive editorial, above.
What inspired your line?
I’m originally from Taiwan and I moved to New York to go to Parsons four years ago. The city really inspired me in the sense that I feel more empowered as a woman here. As an Asian girl, I’m actually not good looking by the standards that exist back home. But ever since I moved to New York, because it’s so diverse and people have more open beauty standards, I’ve become more confident as a woman. I’d never be able to do what I’m doing now back home––I’d be judged and people would be weirded out.
When did you realize New York was changing you?
I think New York is a magical place. Taiwan just preaches a lot against doing things different from other people, but here, people give you so much love. People are so generous and kind, and you feel more support as a woman––I never had that back in Taiwan. Now that I’ve become more established, I have more support from Taiwan, but I still feel like New York made me become a more confident woman.
Why is it important to you to use organic fabrics?
A lot of people in the fashion industry don’t care about the environment and just produce a lot of crap––fashion is the second most polluted industry, behind oil. Being in the industry so long, I felt like I wanted to do something for the environment. And lingerie is also so close to your skin––it should be something natural and not ridden with chemicals. If you’re so careful about the food you eat, what about the clothes you’re wearing?
What do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes?
BDSM, naughtiness and kink for me, is daily life. But I also think deep down inside every girl, they enjoy that in a way––the naughty elements. I just put it out there and I don’t want to say it’s a sexual thing––I just want them to feel naughty.
With BDSM becoming more and more mainstream in fashion, how do you keep your concepts different and fresh?
Lots of lingerie labels are doing BDSM styles and bondage, and it’s already been overdone, so I wanted to stay away from that. I focus more on cut-outs and different styles, instead of putting straps everywhere. I have a fashion background, so I think designing clothes is slightly different from designing lingerie, and I like to put my experience designing clothes into my intimates.
How has your approach to creating changed since you graduated?
In school, everything has a guideline. Then you graduate, and you’re free––nobody tells you what to do. At first, I was actually kinda lost––I interned at Nicopanda and I worked at a few other labels, and realized that fashion industry people don’t respect people. So I thought, ‘If they can run a business, maybe I can do it too.’ I don’t come from a wealthy family, so I have to use my own money really wisely, which is why I choose to do lingerie. I always wanted to get a nipple piercing but was too afraid of it. So the piercings just came out naturally in my clothing, and I try to bring my experience designing menswear and womenswear to lingerie, to make innovative choices.
What’s next for The End?
Eventually, I’d love to produce more clothing, and I do want to do a men’s boxers––I’ve had a couple guys email me asking about it. I just like to do things casually and not follow the fashion calendar. But I do have a new collection coming out at the end of this year.