A sustainable take on sexy lingerie

Written by Hannah Cole

There’s a new guard of underwear now — labels that are resplendent in sensuality and have an eco-conscious soul.

If you had suggested a mere five years ago that sustainable lingerie could be sexy, I would have rudely scoffed. In my opinion, sustainable equated to bland, beige, loose-fitting granny undies; sexy status required at least a little lace (and possibly a diamante or two). But I’ve since wisened up, along with a seemingly large portion of our society. Gone are the days of Victoria’s Secret.

My sustainable path has led me to investigate several lingerie offerings, which is ultimately how I came across NICO. With age on my side, I’ve started to steer away from lacy intimates and instead seek out comfortable pieces that are designed to fit perfectly, flatter my curves and boost my confidence levels.

Designer and founder, Lis Harvey has similarly noticed this shift in lingerie standards. When she first launched the label in 2012, underwear focused on the male gaze wherein, “You [would wear] this for a man or for your partner — that’s what sexiness was.”

Going against the grind, Harvey reframed this notion: NICO would be female-centric. The brand defines itself on the female perspective, being wearer-focused and a proponent for body positivity. NICO’s designs are for the individual — not for the benefit of another. According to Harvey, sexiness now is “confidence, owning yourself, and being okay with who you are and how you look.” We are sexy when we feel it. As they say, confidence is key.

It’s one thing to set a female-focused intention, but it’s another entirely to successfully deliver. How do you make a woman feel confident? How can design enable one’s sexiness to shine through? As Harvey puts it — and as evidenced by myself — it comes down to comfort. “If you are comfortable, then you can feel confident, and when you are confident, that is sexy.”

The key factor for NICO is a sincere dedication to fit which, in turn, makes for an infallibly satisfying undergarment. “Is it comfortable to wear?” is the question that sits at the forefront and is the reason why time has been spent honing and perfecting the cut of each piece. While the underwear may appear simple — no distracting embellishments or loud colours — this testing and research is evident upon wear. As a brand built on minimalist aesthetics, “It’s more about the cut and the feel of the fabric, so it felt like any kind of embellishment just didn’t gel with that from a design perspective.”

And herein lies the argument against my younger self: a granny undie can be sexy. With the right cut and an abundance of confidence, she’s a brand-new propeller of desire. Sexiness today isn’t defined by more flesh and less fabric; the equation is evidently adjusting. Whether you select a NICO full brief or thong, this new and informed version of sexy has reason to shine.

It also pays to have confidence in a brand’s sustainability efforts, adding yet another layer to the good vibes. In 2012, sustainability wasn’t the buzzword it is now, but the label has grown to embrace this stance.

Natural fibres play a significant role in end-consumer comfort as well as boosting the eco-status of the brand. In using organic cotton and Tencel Modal, the underwear is soft, easy to wear and breathable (which can only be a good thing for *down there*). The organic cotton range also uses plant dyes to offer an utterly chemical-free twist — available in pastels fit for outerwear. As our consciousness of what we put in our bodies continues to grow, it’s only reasonable that what we put on our bodies will follow. Chemical-free clothing is where we are headed, and for a good reason.

Our definition of sexy has evolved in leaps and bounds, as have the standards we set to hold brands accountable. It’s more than offering up a selection of mediocre product; we’re looking for something deeper. We need to feel, be inspired, or undergo a personal change in some way. For NICO’s part, it’s about purchasing underwear that won’t harm people or the planet, while instilling a greater sense of self – one where we ooze sexiness that comes with confidence. After all, “If it’s not comfortable, how can you feel good about yourself?”


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