Yes, they are also sexy, in the way that a plain white tank top and a crisp pair of jeans are sexy. Comfortable too, with soft mesh and bamboo fabrics that carefully trace the lines of your body, cupping your curves in all the right spots. But the thing that stands out most is how undeniably cool they are.
Take the Essential String Bikini with its adjustable straps that float over the hips and cheeky cut. Or the Mies Brief, a mid-rise style with a crossover waist detail inspired by modernist architect Mies van der Rohe who famously popularised the phrase “less is more”. Both pieces are made from deadstock mesh that covers and reveals the body all at once. The effect is relaxed yet confident, conveying the elusive attitude of coolness that’s earned the brand its cult following.
Bonita Kye is the mastermind behind KYE Intimates and its well-thought-out design approach. Taking cues from modernist architecture, Bonita creates pieces that are eternally stylish (like a good piece of mid-century furniture), prioritising function and wearability. For her, sexiness is about being empowered to wear the clothes we feel good in and can consume mindfully. The latter is guaranteed when you purchase from KYE, with all products handmade in a women-run factory in Los Angeles. The brand also prioritises low-impact materials and has programs in place for donating lightly worn products to women in need.
We sat down with Bonita to talk about building a business that nourishes women, redefining the notion of “sexiness” and how she styles her KYE.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about you: what is your current role and what did you do before founding KYE?
Hi! I’m Bonita, the designer and founder at KYE. Prior to starting the business, I had a few different roles in fashion, mainly in merchandising and manufacturing.
Q. Can you describe KYE Intimates in a sentence?
An intimates and lifestyle collection made for your everyday.
Q. What really strikes us about these pieces is their understated sexiness – what do you think makes underwear “sexy”?
It’s feeling empowered – choosing timelessness and comfort over “style”, doing our research and being mindful in the ways we consume.
Q. Is this look something that you were consciously trying to create as a way to separate KYE from other more basic sustainable underwear brands? Or did it come about quite organically?
It started with pieces I longed for but couldn’t quite find – pieces that simplified getting dressed, that are delicate yet functional, modern yet romantic.
Q. Can you talk us through your design approach – how do you create garments that work with the natural curves of the body? Are there any design “rules” you tend to follow or break?
KYE design principles are influenced by the approach of mid-century architects and artists – particularly the way they prioritised the human and nature connection in their designs.
All pieces are wire-free and designed to accentuate a woman’s natural form with comfort at the forefront of our designs.
Q. Your mesh pieces in particular reveal women’s bodies in such a beautiful way. Why did you choose to work with this deadstock fabric, and can you talk us through the process of sourcing it?
Thank you! We are continuously working to refine our impact on the environment. In the meantime, choosing to work with deadstock is a way to help minimise overproduction in the fashion industry. We currently source our deadstock materials from local warehouses in Los Angeles.
Until we can improve upon a more “circular” system, we will continue to implement other meaningful initiatives such as donating samples and encouraging our community to donate their gently worn pieces to organisations such as I Support The Girls, who collect and distribute bras and menstrual hygiene products to women experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic violence and refugees affected by natural disasters.
Q. Do you have any styling tips for people who want to show off their KYE Intimates outside the house?
Layering delicate/sheer garments, button-downs, sweaters and outerwear and allowing for a tasteful peek.
Q. Who or what sparks creativity for you?
My brilliant friends, travels, the sea and nature.
Q. Can you describe a regular day inside your female-owned LA factory?
Every day is quite different – we are currently getting ready to launch a special project alongside designing SS23. When I’m visiting the factory, I’ll catch up with the production manager, meet with the patternmaker to go over new styles and end the day at the office!
Q. Do you have a favourite KYE piece or style?
A forever go-to is the Essential String Bikini.
Q. We love that KYE is a reminder to foster a gentle relationship with ourselves, those we love and Mother Earth. Do you have any practices or rituals for showing yourself love?
Swimming in the sea and a good book.