Dress Up: The End Is The Eco-Friendly Naughty Lingerie You Need
Bei Kuo describes her lingerie line, titled The End, as “tasteful lingerie made with eco fabrics and naughty thoughts ;)” (emoji included). Tasteful, because it’s designed with intention and impeccable aesthetic; eco, because her materials are also environmentally-friendly; and naughty, because, well, it’s raunchy AF. We’re here for it, and the underlying message: that you govern over your own sex appeal, how it’s defined, and who it’s for—and no one can take that away from you, no matter how little clothing you have on. With a custom zine and film by Milk fam Andy Boyle, we went all in on this one to really drive it home—because there’s no better way to wrap up the year than with body piercing-inspired bras and sustainable fashion design. Get acquainted with Kuo below.
You are the designer of The End. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
I started The End lingerie in 2016. I use only organic cotton and eco-friendly fabrics. The inspiration came from body piercings—I was obsessed with nipple piercings – but I was too afraid to have my own body piercings. So I wanted to combine a kinky, edgy style with organic and eco-friendly fabric. Most of the eco-friendly lingerie are really pure and natural and girly. It is cute but it’s kind of boring for me.
What kind of reactions did you get when you introduced an alternative to the girly, eco-friendly stuff that you were seeing?
I think at this point, people almost forgot about the fact the fabric is eco-friendly. I think people ignore the fact that it is, which is partly my fault. I think people are sometimes surprised that something can be so edgy and kinky but also eco-friendly. I think because the fashion industry is one of the most polluted industries, it should be a concern. It isn’t a selling point for me—I think that it is something that fashion brands should be concerned with. That’s just how I feel.
I totally agree. I think it should be the normal, not something that you are using a selling point. I know you said a lot of your inspiration comes from body piercings – but where do you source from and what are you referencing when you are making these pieces?
Most of the time I play with the placement of the jewelry and I try to combine the jewelry with the lingerie. Then I come up with interesting silhouettes. That’s really the way I work. I kind of like it very sexual in a way, but also, do it for yourself—like, you dress up for yourself and not to just attract other people. I want girls to wear my lingerie and feel sexy for themselves, not for other people.
Do you think that that concept is something that you noticed was really missing from lingerie in general?
I think so. I feel like lots of girls that wear my lingerie feel really confident. Some girls say that they just got out of a relationship and they feel so bad about themselves and they don’t feel comfortable or beautiful. I feel like you should always take care of yourself and dress up for yourself. Loving yourself is the most important thing and you shouldn’t dress up for someone else. I think a lot of times in the lingerie industry they present girls dressing up for someone else.
What is it like running your business in New York? How did you tackle that?
It was difficult at first because I am not from a wealthy family, I don’t have a huge financial background to support me. So at first when the brand started, I had to work other jobs to support the brand. It is really difficult for young designers, because to support the brand they have to do multiple jobs. A year ago, my boyfriend asked me to move back to Minnesota with him. So I moved here with him and for me, it is such a relief because I don’t have the money pressure. I just have lots of freedom to focus on the brand. It feels awesome because even though now it is a really small team—it is really only two people. I am in charge of mostly everything but it is good to have control of your brand. I do packaging and design and customer service. It is difficult to run the business in New York but you never know, maybe something will happen.
Do you think that your environment influences your creativity? Are you inspired by different things when you are in a different place? How has moving changed your outlook?
I don’t think there is anything that really inspires me here. Moving from New York to Minnesota is really different. Nothing can really compare. I think because of my background, I am originally from Taiwan and then I moved to New York—I think for me, I see more opportunity to collaborate with people who are super talented. You can be in magazines or work with really big photographers. There are so many talents there. Moving back to Minnesota has slowed me down a little bit but I find my own inspirations. But I do feel like I have slowed down because you don’t have that competitive environment like you do in New York.
What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to start a business? Or a young designer isn’t sure how to get started?
I would say you really have to figure out your money situation. The thing is, everyone in New York – everyone says that they are a photographer, designer or model but you know that everyone has different paid jobs. Don’t just put all your money into things that you want because for a fashion brand, you aren’t going to make money for the first two or three years. You really have to lock down a job that pays you. That is the first suggestion I would give. Second thing is, work with people that you like and reach out to people and collaborate with people—establish your brand and your image. It might seem silly but Instagram following is important to people. You will get there eventually and you will start making money but you have to fight for it.
What is coming up for The End?
The new collection just dropped two weeks ago. It’s a nude and black collection, so I think it is really exciting because the pieces are really cute and very sexual. This summer I released a new swimwear line and so in the winter time, I will start designing the new swimwear pieces—which are also eco-friendly fabrics from water bottles. That will come out hopefully around May.
Stay tuned to Milk for more zines.