Eco Intimates is the latest brand to join the BITS sustainable edit.
Founder, Madonna Bain, was one of the very first people we met with when BITS was just an idea. After an hour chatting with Madonna, we were even more excited about shaking up the lingerie space than we had ever been before. Her knowledge and expertise around lingiere was incredible, but moreso her passion for it was infectious.
We chatted REAL TALK with Madonna on all things eco and intimate.
Pic: Eco Intimates Founder, Madonna Bain
How did the Eco Intimates brand come about?
I designed a capsule of eco intimates for my major work during my final year at TAFE, when I finished my diploma I continued it as a hobby while I looked for design work.
It was my side project for 10 years, I just had a store on ETSY, and a little website and I took orders and handmade them myself for customers.
In 2013 a friend helped me produce a small range in Bali, but I wasn’t ready to jump in as my daughters were still young. In October 2018 I took it full time and here we are!
How did you end up designing lingerie and what keeps you so excited about it?
I have just always loved lingerie. Something about lingerie, to me, they are intricate little pieces of art, the lace, the trims. It’s like jewellery for the body. I feel like I have an endless love for it and I never tire of making it.
As a small producer you have to accept that you can’t make exactly what you envisioned, as many fabrics or trims are unavailable or styles require special techniques or equipment, so the desire to make beautiful underwear from natural fabrics, and the goal to develop my own trims, fabrics and prints keeps me passionate.
We know sustainability is a big focus for the brand, we mean – the brand name says it all.
Being environmental as a way of life has been 2nd nature to me as my late father was extremely passionate about having a light footstep and leaving the planet in a better state for his children. He was a musician and I grew up with his beautiful songs urging us to listen and put the planet first.
In what ways is Eco Intimates sustainable and how do you consider sustainability when developing a new collection?
So when I designed the range, luxury to me was textiles that were as natural as possible, and as environmentally friendly as possible. Most lingerie available was either polyester, silk or Italian lace. I could not find any all-cotton alternative to luxury lingerie. So it was exciting come up with a range of intimates that was special and unique.
But I found road blocks creating wearable well-fitting pieces without using components and elastics (rings, sliders, bra straps, plush elastic, bra backs…), so I realised quickly that I needed be flexible and use a combination of elastane and high quality composites with these natural fabrics.
Pic: Eco Intimates Organic Basics
Do you feel being based in Byron, a place many feel has a strong spiritual and environmental significance, has an impact on your brand and designs?
I have actually recently moved away from Byron, and I am now located about 30mins North. But living in the Byron area for over 25 years has definitely had an impact on me as a designer and a person.
It is such a creative environment and community, so it felt completely natural to not only create, but create from an environmentally aware consciousness.
We imagine designing lingerie must be quite an intimate experience. What does intimacy mean to you?
Intimacy to me is vulnerability, feeling in touch with your inner being, not what you want to be, or what others want you to be, but a state where you are completely yourself in all its truth!
And then also sharing that space with a person or people whom you trust and who are comfortable with your true self.
Do you remember your first bra? What was the experience of buying your first bra like?
Yes I remember my favourite bra - a white broderie anglaise JAG bra! I loved that bra until it’s death.
I had a big bust even as a 16 year old and buying bras was a nerve wracking experience as I felt so confronted to need so much support in my bras. Most of my friends didn't even need to wear them (well it was Byron Bay!)... and it was very hard to find beautiful pieces in larger cups sizes.
That bra was like a unicorn. And I treasured it!
What are your top tips for getting the right fit with Eco Intimates?
For my range all you need is your under-bust, top bust, and hip measurements, which are as close as I can get to Australian standard sizing.
For example, if you are an Australian size 10, generally you will wear a size small in Eco Intimates.
What is the one must-have Eco Intimates style that everyone should have in their lingerie drawer?
Ruffle knickers! These darlings are so comfortable to wear and in such soft fabrics they can be worn under most clothing without a panty line. I have a range of both women and men who are addicted and I make it my mission to give them new prints and colours as often as I can.
Pic: Eco Intimates iconic Ruffle knickers
Do you have any advice for other designers wanting to start their own brand?
Don’t give up! There will be ups and downs and days you are not sure you will make it, but persistence it key.
What’s next for Eco Intimates?
Last year we released a range of basics, which was super exciting to have a range we could match back with the lingerie range.
This year we have a new colour and print in both these collections, which will be ready this Spring.
For 2022, I have an underwire style in the pipeline, to match back with each of the ranges.