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“Wearing lingerie for yourself is the most feminist flag you could fly.” Malia Mills.
In a sun-drenched studio overlooking Manhattan, quiet craftswomen work in one of the few ateliers left in New York. When I walked in to my first day of work I was astounded and humbled, it felt as though I was entering a creative sanctum, something spiritual was happening here. The workers were truly creators – deftly cutting, draping and sewing masterpieces with their own two hands. They were crafting swimwear of utmost quality and luxury, right here in the United States.
I spent the last three years working under the bra-sized bikini mastermind that is Malia Mills. By day, I am a pattern maker at Mills’ swimwear atelier in Brooklyn. By night, I dream of decadent lingerie and write about it for the Lingerie Journal. When Malia told me her customers report their bikini tops fit so well they wear them as bras, it seemed only fate to create a premier lingerie collection.
Retro lingerie is a passion Malia and I share, so we pulled from some of Malia Mills classic swimsuit silhouettes to make this collection. Luxurious high-waisted bottoms and long line bras grace the pages of her website- on models of all ages and sizes. Chic and contemporary, the intimates are crafted with meticulous construction in luxury fabrics.
Malia explains, “the lingerie was created with the same ethos as our swim, not only meant to have exquisite fit – it feels really good to wear. It’s not just function, not just fashion, it’s a magic combination of both.”
Delicate Chantilly lace and modern, breathable mesh are artfully paired to make knickers so light you’ll forget you’re wearing them. It literally feels like wearing your birthday suit. Malia Mills panty offerings include three different cuts – low rise bikini, a boy short, and a high-waisted brief. All have signature seaming to accentuate a diversity of shape.
With the use of clever seaming and superior fabrics, four beautiful bra styles were born – including a vintage military bra inspired bralette and a sultry long line bra. Straps specially made from fabric cut in a beautiful and functional shape are a signature detail, with adjustability on the back for a fit that feels tailor – made. As Malia’s pattern maker, she and I worked tirelessly fitting the bras for months to get perfect fit and support – cutting, re-sewing, and fitting everything in our Brooklyn studio with our team of seamstresses.
The garments are deceptively simple and airy feeling, with a lot of hidden support. Miraculously, all without underwires – gasp – yes a DD cup bra that fully supports without underwires. The bras feel like barely a whisper against your skin, but 25 plus years of fit expertise shows in how remarkably supportive the bralette is even for a DD cup.
Busty and curvy gals need not fret they won’t be able to find their size in this luxury brand. Since Mills began her company in 1993 she has been dubbed “the OG of body positivity”, Vogue credited her with “starting a veritable body image revolution’’. Long before plus size and curvy models became mainstream, Malia was photographing her swimsuits on women of all sizes, shapes, ages and ethnicities. Her mantra is “love thy differences”- and her brand holds true to its word, with the new lingerie collection offered in sizes 30A-40DD and pant sizes 1-16.
The lacy new underpinnings hang alluringly in Malia Mills new store at 27 Wooster street in Soho. In addition to Soho, Malia Mills has stores on the upper east side of New York, seasonal shops in East and Southampton as well as in California — in Los Angeles, Marin and Montecito.
Stores are run by body positive ambassadors full of Mills’ trademark “good chi” and fit expertise who treat customers to one-on-one fittings. “Our gals have an incredible way to show customers they have more choices in swim and lingerie than they think they do”, Mills notes. Customers include everyone from new moms to grandmoms, spiritual yogis to femme fatales. Fit specialists at all Malia Mills boutiques encourage their clientele to treat themselves to quality, luxury items made in America, not only because it’s a great way to support their communities but also because they deserve it. As Mills notes, “Wearing lingerie for yourself is the most feminist flag you could fly.”
Learn more about the Malia Mills Lingerie Collection