Since 2014, Mary Young has played an important role in the body positivity movement through her collection of intimates made to empower women with different body types.
She’s also become a major player in the sustainable fashion category; when most Canadian-based companies moved out of the country to produce their wares, Young consciously avoided the fast fashion category and began producing in Canada with quality, environmentally safe materials.
All MARY YOUNG garments are produced in Montreal, where equal wages and conditions are being met, and all orders are packed and shipped from Toronto, lovingly by hand.
In our books, Young has earned herself a spot as one of fashion’s finest for her effort to maintain a positive impact on the planet, as well as the bodies, minds and hearts of many. Read on to learn more about Canadian designer Mary Young.
SC: What inspired you to create a lingerie/loungewear brand?
MY: During my time studying fashion communications at Ryerson University, I focused on the lingerie industry and realized the industry was falling short. I personally felt alienated by the marketing and conversation within the lingerie industry and I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling that way. Seeing this gap in the market for practical everyday garments that not only feel good but also look good is what inspired me to create a collection for my fourth-year thesis. With lots of positive feedback and requests for lifestyle lingerie upon graduating, I decided it was time to launch the company and take this concept from thesis to brand.
SC: What gaps do you see in the lingerie industry that you are trying to address with your brand?
MY: The biggest gap we are trying to address is giving women options for lingerie that are comfortable, practical for every day and also beautiful. Lingerie falls into two categories right now, very practical, nude, black and white styles that work for your daily life but you never want anyone to see you in. While the other extreme is traditional lingerie, red and black lace, padded, pushup and all about reshaping a woman’s body into what society deems as sexy at the time. We are igniting and inspiring moments of self-love and acceptance by offering garments that celebrate the natural shape and offer long-lasting comfort.
SC: Can you tell me about the design and production process?
MY: We design everything in Toronto at our studio and work with local wholesalers to find the best materials for each collection. From there we have our samples produced at our production house in Montreal and after signing off on new designs and hues, we begin production there in small batches.
SC: Why did you decide to create lingerie with no underwire, padding or reshaping aspects?
MY: I personally believe the woman’s body is beautiful and should not be reshaped. Society has been detrimental to women, changing the ideals of beauty and sexy while women do anything and everything they can to fit into that new mould. I don’t want women to think less of themselves for their shape and by choosing to remove the padding, underwire and reshaping aspects from our garments I hope to inspire women to feel their absolute best in their natural shape.
SC: Who or what is your muse?
MY: My muse is our community as a whole – each and every one. I see the differences between us all and also see what unites us, beauty in togetherness. What inspires me and gives me the motivation to do my best work for our community.
SC: Why was it important for your brand to showcase women of all body types and races?
MY: To me, it was never a question to represent the many faces, shapes and skin tones of our world. When I launched the brand I wanted the products and messaging to be for the people in my life, those around me in my day-to-day life. I’m surrounded by diversity, so diversity was a simple starting point. It hasn’t always been easy though. With decades of society only showcasing one body type and skin tone, many women who didn’t fit into those categories were uneasy modelling. It became a mission of mine personally to empower the models and women we work with to see themselves as beautiful, worthy and as a representation of all.
SC: Your brand creates bodysuits. Sometimes bodysuits can be uncomfortable in the crotch area, so what’s the key to making a cozy one?
MY: From our very first bodysuit comfort was at the forefront of the design and with that focus, we removed the snaps you commonly find at the crotch of a bodysuit. From my personal experience, I’ve never felt comfortable with metal snaps between my legs. I want our bodysuits to be comfortable over an entire day and night. All of our bodysuits do not have snaps and are pull-on styles to ensure comfort in every angle and movement.
SC: Can you give us style tips on how we can incorporate lingerie into our everyday outfits?
MY: Lingerie should be just as fun as your day-to-day wardrobe, whether that is just for you to see or to show off a little. Sometimes wearing a bold or bright design under your regular clothes is exciting and special. If you want to show it off a little start slow, wear a bra that can be seen through a sheer or white shirt. And then when you’re feeling bold wear an open button-up or blazer with your bra peeking through.
SC: You’ve said that women have a hard time accepting compliments. Why do you think so?
MY: Women unfortunately have been trained to see what’s wrong with themselves, never what they love about themselves. It’s common practice for women to be polite or humble, to brush off a compliment without smiling to accept it. The best way to change this unhealthy pattern is to give yourself compliments, every single day, and accept them. Look at yourself for what you do have, for all that you are, rather than listing off the things you want to change about yourself.
SC: You created the self-love club, but what does self-love mean to you?
MY: The Self-Love Club is a movement that is very close to my heart. Self-love has become a very popular and trendy term but to be it is the basis of life – despite all of the people around us, at the end of the day we have ourselves. We can be our own biggest advocates, cheerleaders, supporters and lovers and if we aren’t the most loving to ourselves, life will be a very rough and painful. The best way to open up love in our lives is to start giving it to ourselves first. When you love yourself, you still acknowledge your shortcomings and mistakes but you love yourself through them. Life is even more beautiful when you love yourself every step of the way.