‘Lonely’ The fashion label pushing boundaries and creating change

Auckland fashion label, Lonely, wants women to focus on how lingerie makes them feel rather than how they should look. A label that describes itself as “for women who wear lingerie as a love letter to themselves” 

Laura-Jane Douch is a customer of Lonely lingerie as she loves the message of empowerment the brand expresses. The 19 Year old, Industrial Design student likes how the label uses models of different sizes, ages and ethnicities providing diverse representation. 

“Being someone with a fairly average body type, it can make me feel self-conscious seeing models who are meant to display the ideal body type, because they are perceived as being somehow ‘better’ than my own.” 

Helene Morris, co-founder of Lonely, mentions how incredible she feels when she knows her customers are feeling represented through their label and confident in their lingerie. 

Lonely Lingerie was established in 2009, “with a dream to make a difference in the lives of women” says, Helene Morris who co-founded the brand with Steve Ferguson. The label, produces soft cup and underwire bras that possess intricate and delicate strap designs paired with lace or other luxurious fabrics designed to create a beautiful, natural shape that is comfortable for the everyday woman. With up to 30 sizes and prices ranging between 50NZD and 115NZD for their lingerie. 

The brand has since launched to worldwide status, when powerful and body positive women such as Lena Dunham, Lorde and Kim Kardashian’s popularly contributed to the Lonely Girl Project. 

As an ongoing journal series the Lonely Girl Project features candid portraits of women wearing Lonely in their own way. Women of Lonely, are welcomed to participate through sending in their images.  

“The Lonely Girls project was a result of the many conversations we had, wanting to give women the power to choose the way they are represented and to capture their personal stories.” 

Morris, says she has never been a fan of conventional lingerie marketing calling it “irresponsible”. 

Conventional marketing strategies by lingerie brands and fashion brands alike, have been hit with scrutiny within the industry in recent years with both consumers and professionals beginning to speak up about how unrepresentative the industry can be. 

“We want women to see that everyone is different and that our perceived ‘flaws’, are actually what make us our beautiful selves and hope that through this project we empower all women whether they participate in the project or not.” 

With conventional marketing failing to represent the vast amount of women, many are left feeling unrepresented, and extremely discontent with their appearance. Body positivity has increasingly reached the forefront of women worldwide, with many wanting to see themselves represented as beautiful as opposed to something to be shameful of. 

Lonely since its establishment has fought for empowerment within their images not shying away from the realities of a womens body. Pubic hair, nipples, cellulite and stretch marks openly welcome within all their imagery. 

“If we can not relate to imagery or feel that we are not represented, how can we feel confident about ourselves.” 

The Lonely Girls Project has continued to be Lonely’s leading campaign whose first goal is that of empowerment. The project has continued to grow in the seven years it has been active, and is currently in process to become a magazine in the future. 

Model Natarsha Orsman says she is aware of how her body affects the publics view of their own body. 

“Before I was a model I was constantly told that I was too thin by my peers. Strangers came up to me on the street and assumed that I had an eating disorder… They still do. As soon as I became a model, I was no longer too thin; I became ‘body goals’”. 

As a high fashion model working both in New Zealand and overseas successfully, she has come face to face with realities of body positivity within the industry. 

It is has become well known that fashion models have been expected to fit particular measurements in order to maintain the ‘ideal’ body. Natarsha says, models are often told to lose weight if they don’t fit the already worryingly small measurements. 

“Every international model you talk to will definitely have insecurity about their bodies.” 

It almost comes as no surprise that body positivity isn’t expressed within the inner working of the industry. A message can not truely create change if those in charge do not truely believe in it. 

It speaks to why Lonely is resonating with so many women worldwide, they want to create change and allow women to feel comfortable in their own skin. 

Some would argue when it comes to fashion shows it almost seems understandable as to why all the women who walk the catwalk share the same size. Designers have deadlines and budgets, catering to one size is timely and cost efficient. However with fashion week becoming more ‘for the people’ rather than exclusively for the industry professionals, it is more than just print marketing in need of seeking change. 

“I’d like it to change but I understand that it is a competitive industry and if you can’t fit the garment another girl can,” , says Orsman. 

But as she rightly mentions “it is this attitude which continues the stigma.” 

It is important that companies begin to challenge this stigma and adopt the ethos of Lonely, however there is necessity that they truely commit as a way of boosting their consumers own self image, rather than that of the companies. 

Morris is encouraging yet cautious of companies adopting similar projects to that of the Lonely Girl Project saying “if companies see this new awareness of feminism as simply a means to re-invigorate marketing and open up new markets without truly supporting the message, then it comes of as trend based which can ultimately cause more damage than good. “ 

Wellington Communication student, Leilani Baker says she often rolls her eyes at body positivity campaigns within the industry “because it is so forced and targets extremely skinny girls or extremely big girls. But what about those in between who also find body positivity hard.” 

Body positivity for all body types is more than possible within the industry and with Lonely and their Lonely Girl project leading the way, the genuine desire to empower women will continue to spread.