German brand AIKYOU creates timeless, minimalist lingerie for small cup sizes using regionally-sourced fabrics and ethical production standards. Their brand mission is in two parts: to create beautiful lingerie for small busts, and to do so with the highest caliber of sustainability.
AIKYOU designs their bras without wires or moulded cups, and with optional padding, because they want to eliminate the idea that there is a ‘correct’ way for bust to be. As they say: “Breasts are wonderful just the way they are. No matter which size”. Their bra sizing runs from XS-L, which covers 30-40 bands and AA-B cups.
The designs are chic and minimal, typically in muted colours like black, white, and a lilac-ish ‘rosegrey’ (though there are some brighter colours currently available in their sale section). The brand specifically designs its products to mold to the shape of your body so that they’re comfortable enough to wear all the time, and I could easily see these styles becoming someone’s go-to bra for everyday wear.
From construction to production, AIKYOU makes environmental consciousness a key aspect of their products. They create lingerie in small batches to avoid the large amount of excess material that is often leftover after seasonal collections. They choose suppliers from around Europe to minimise long transportation routes. All of their fabric is spun, knitted, dyed, and cut in Germany, and sewn into lingerie in Croatia. AIKYOU’s cotton carries the Fairtrade Cotton certification, which indicates that it is grown using fair labour practices and responsible land management, and the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 certification, which confirms that the item has been tested to be harmless to humans. They use recyclable packaging materials from certified forestry, and they ship via DHL GoGreen, a carbon-neutral shipping option. No stage of the supply chain is forgotten about!
I love that though AIKYOU’s main selling point is that they create comfortable and stylish lingerie for small busts, they also maintain this focus on the importance of sustainability. It’s a trend that I hope to see continue, as more and more brands realise that even if they specialise in one particular thing (small busts, fuller busts, plus-size fashion, or whatever else it may be) they can also make environmental consciousness a core part of their mission.
I spoke to AIKYOU to find out what they had to say about the biggest challenges and rewards of sustainable fashion, and their journey as a conscious brand.
What made you decide to make sustainability a core part of your mission, and what does sustainability mean to you?
With AIKYOU, we express our personal philosophy: Sustainability never was a marketing trend for us, but always a matter close to our heart. For us, this is not just a question of labels and certifications. It goes far beyond that. We live sustainably both professionally and in our private lives. With this in mind, we always do our best in handling all resources responsibly – without claiming to be perfect.
You put a lot of emphasis on sourcing the right materials. Can you tell us about that process and what you’ve learned along the way?
[Being responsible] also refers to how we source our materials. For our designs, we search for the specific look and feel of a material, like maybe a certain type of lace. However, often we found that what we were searching for was, and is still not, available on the market in an eco-friendly quality. So we continue to search and adapt, until we are eventually happy again.
In our search for the right fabrics, we discovered beautiful material qualities. For example, not all organic cotton is the same. Our long-staple premium quality will not only prove more durable, it practically won’t pill and will keep lasting, intense colour.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in creating sustainably-produced lingerie?
AIKYOU is a lingerie label specifically for small busts. And when we started out, we wanted simply the best. The best materials, all of them sustainably-produced, organic, with some certification – never mind the costs. Only to learn that this was not so easy to achieve, or was even, regarding some materials, impossible. So often, this process requires long sourcing for the right stuff.
From the outset, we realised that sustainability is not limited to finding the right materials and production conditions. It requires thinking twice in many respects. Consequently, we keep questioning what doing business in a sustainable way actually means. For us, discount battles, which promote processes resembling the fast fashion system, are not part of it.
What have you found the most rewarding about creating sustainably-produced lingerie?
It is so rewarding to have regional contacts and partnerships, who over the years have become friends. Short routes, more environmentally-friendly transportation and communication, matter to us – as does having a trusting cooperation with our suppliers and partners. That’s why we prefer to find them close to us. Moreover, we can gain insight into their production conditions at any time. This refers to our fabric producers as well as to our print shop, or to the workshop for people with disabilities in Germany that hand-sews our packaging.
Also, achieving a new normal. Our main idea was always to create lingerie for small busts. But it was clear from the very beginning that working in a sustainable way should be considered totally normal, and not even worth mentioning. It should be the standard way of doing business. And we have the feeling that we are reaching this goal, getting there, step by step.
What trends are you seeing in the fashion or lingerie industry right now in terms of sustainability?
We are very happy to see that an interest in brands acting sustainably is now becoming more and more normal, giving all of us more choices. Also, the textile industry is trying its best to develop new and interesting materials using more sustainable production methods. And that is a wonderful development.
What do you hope for the future of small-bust lingerie?
As humans, we are prone to following strong social trends and mainstream body clichés. With our work, we want to show everyone with small boobs that they can feel good wearing a bra that enhances the beauty of your natural shape – without having to change it, cover it up or enlarge it. We believe that, in the past 10 years, we have contributed to opening up this self-loving perspective for many of our customers. But ideas of what a body should look like in order to be ‘right’ or ‘accepted’ are often deeply-rooted, so there is still work to do. We will continue to offer our options for feeling free and easy with small busts.
What are your goals for AIKYOU going forward? Where do you see the brand in a year?
The way is the goal! We will continue on our mission to supply beautiful lingerie to women with small boobs in a responsible and sustainable way, with regards to how we produce the lingerie, the consideration we give to the resources we are using, and how we lead our business. We’ll continue to focus not only on unconditional growth as a brand, but on respect for everything and everyone involved.
Which of AIKYOU’s lingerie looks is your favourite? Do you have other favourite brands for small busts?