When Toronto-based clothing designer and entrepreneur Mary Young first started her clothing line nearly three years ago, she noticed a lack of inclusion and diversity in the fashion industry that just didn’t sit well with her. She saw that there was a “very niche category of who a woman is suppose to be and it [was] not accurate.”
As a strong believer that every woman is the ‘ideal woman,’ Young took it upon herself to work to transform the way women see and feel about their bodies starting at the base level: their lingerie.
“After studying the industry for so long, I realized that there was a gap for lifestyle lingerie that focused on comfort and ease versus show pieces and restructuring of the natural body,” said Young. She said lingerie companies were designing with other people people in mind, those seeing the lingerie in an intimate setting, rather than the women actually wearing them.
Trading thick padding and stiff underwire for nylon mesh and bamboo cotton, Mary Young’s namesake brand was born and has since developed a cult-like following in the city. Being previously called the “anti-thesis of Victoria’s Secret,” the Canadian made lingerie and loungewear line understands the importance of fashionable yet comfortable clothing.
“Everything that we design is really focused on encouraging women to embrace their natural shape and celebrate comfort first.”
“The focus of the brand is about comfort, which is something you don’t often see in women’s wear. A lot of clothing, not just lingerie, but ready-to-wear, everyday garments are really focused on looking tailored, not really focusing on being comfortable,” said Young. “Everything that we design is really focused on encouraging women to embrace their natural shape and celebrate comfort first…from the base layers of lingerie, knowing that these garments can be everyday garments as well as worn in an intimate setting.”
But for Young, it’s not just about making women feel comfortable in their underwear — it’s also about helping instil confidence and positivity within those women when it comes to who they are. Mary Young isn’t just a name or a brand of clothing; it’s a culture and a community.
For Young, it’s not just about making women feel comfortable in their underwear — it’s also about helping instil confidence and positivity within those women when it comes to who they are.
“If you feel more confident in an underwire padded bra then that’s exactly what you should do; however you feel the most confident is what you should celebrate, but always ask why that makes you feel confident. Is it because you’ve been told that’s the right thing to do, or is it because your own soul and your gut is telling you that?” said Young.
Many designers try to sell women on an ideal image of who they should be, but with Young’s line, she wants to focus on enhancing who those women really are. It’s all part of the community she is building with her brand rather than just simply selling clothes.
“When it comes to community building, no matter what we’re doing we want to be celebrating other people as well… We’re building a brand, but we also want to be a part of a bigger community that’s growing together,” she said.
“When it comes to community building, no matter what we’re doing we want to be celebrating other people as well… We’re building a brand, but we also want to be a part of a bigger community that’s growing together.”
In the last three years, the 26-year-old’s clothing company has grown into a full-fledged brand and lifestyle. Young’s designs hang in a variety of storefronts across the country and her social channels have established a cult-like following with over 16,000 followers on Instagram alone.
“Social media has been a really important part of shaping the brand, especially the community and culture of it,” said Young. “Before social media was a thing, you really only got to know brands based on huge marketing campaigns and paid advertisements, not as much honest conversation, authentic imagery and storytelling which is what we do focus on.”
“With social media, you have a voice you have a platform and there’s a lot more you can do with it than just sell products. At the end of the day we are selling garments, but my biggest focus is encouraging women and men to open up, to be more supportive, to be more inclusive and to really just grow in a more positive way, and the way that I’m doing that is encouraging women to challenge what they’ve been told by the industry and by the media their entire lives,” said Young.
“At the end of the day we are selling garments, but my biggest focus is encouraging women and men to open up, to be more supportive, to be more inclusive and to really just grow in a more positive way…”
And it shows. Along with delivering modern yet simple garments that embody the new sexy in a back-to-basics sort of esthetic, Young has developed a platform for self-empowerment. She launched her Self Love Club Talks movement this past April – a series of talks, blog posts, events and social content focusing on celebrating, loving and accepting oneself.
“Buying lingerie is a way to treat yourself, and the way that our [brand] focuses on comfort is a different level of treating yourself than other brands,” said Young. “Women buy our products to wear every single day to feel good in every single day… There is not one ideal woman and we need to start celebrating our differences and actually embracing [them] instead of trying to fit into a very thin checklist of what we are suppose to be.”
You could consider it as being in the right place and the right time, but Young sees it as aligning herself with the right movements; movements that matter to not only her, but to her customers and followers as well.
“I just want to focus on helping women feel better, feel more positive in themselves and learn who they are versus who they’ve been told to be.”
All images by Sarah May
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