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Marieyat Collection IIIPhotography Ronan McKenzie, courtesy of Marieyat

Marieyat’s new undies are inspired by Japanese female divers

London lingerie label Marieyat reveals collection III, and dips its toes into swimwear

Following their girls-only sleepover to launch Collection I, and the Muk-bang inspired lookbook (aka Korean girls eating on cam) that framed Collection II, London lingerie label Marieyat is back with a third collection.

While last season Hong Kong-born designer Marie Yat took inspiration from the cracks found when practicing the Japanese ceramic technique of Kintsugi, this season she looked to the 2000-year-old practice of free-diving carried out by all-female “Ama” divers in Japan, in search of pearls. The Ama dived wearing just a loincloth up until the 60s, and still dive without the assistance of oxygen tanks today.

Presented in a space that resembled a swimming pool complete with ladders and scuba gear, soundtracked by an industrial underwater soundscape, we saw swimwear versions of Marieyat’s signature deconstructed lingerie pieces – the Ryym, Sade and G-Tang – alongside new underwear styles. The Ama Thong was arguably the most notable piece. Taking traditional inspiration from the Japanese Fundoshi loincloth, it appeared in a pleated fabric secured by a thick waistband. Meanwhile, the new Shell Top featured a circular drawstring detail much like a diving belt, and the Island Brief came as a seamless high-rise take on the classic, each worn by a flush-faced model with wet hair.

Although much skin was very much on show, the diverse cast of nine models looked natural, comfortable and entirely relaxed, whether they were using their phones (protected by waterproof neck pouches), or positioned in front of the camera. As ever, Yat’s pieces placed an equal importance on comfort and design. With her male gaze repelling approach, Yat proves that lingerie (or swimwear) doesn’t have to be an over-posed, uncomfortable affair. Here, she tells us more.

What sparked the decision to expand into swimwear?

Marie Yat: Ever since the first collection we’ve had a lot of feedback from friends and customers saying they wish that some of the styles were also made into swimwear. Some actually said they wore the underwear to swim. The inspiration behind the presentation for Collection III was related to water, so it felt like a great transition to introduce a few swimwear pieces.

How did the outfits worn by the Ama divers inform your designs?

Marie Yat: There are details like drawstrings, braided bindings and twisted panels throughout the collection. We wanted to create pieces that have movement –the action of tightening the drawstring detail on a brief reminds us of when the Ama divers tighten the rope on their waist. The Float Brief is a seamless piece with a belt detail on the waist that looks like an Ama diver’s belt. And the Shell Top has a circular gathered drawstring detail at the back. Meanwhile, the Ama Thong is made to look like a traditional Japanese Fundoshi. It’s created with one piece of rectangular cloth that wraps and ties around the body. We cut our version with a pleated panel at the front, joined to the back by a thick waistband.

What about the colour palette?

Marie Yat: The colours – denim blue and burnt orange came from the old images of the Ama divers that we studied. The blue is slightly faded and the orange is vibrant, resembling the burning sun.  

There was a film by Romano Pizzichini at the presentation – how did that come about?

Marie Yat: It came about quite spontaneously. We have been friends for a long time but this is the first time we’ve worked together. We wanted to make a short film to be shown at the entrance of our presentation, before guests came into the main room. While we were preparing with stylist Vanessa Minshull, she mentioned that Romano had a few rolls of expired 16mm film that might suit the shoot – then we spoke to him about the film idea and he got really excited about the project.

How do you feel about the underwear market at the moment? Obviously Marieyat is very much about confidence of mind and body, but it feels like some other brands are using empowerment as a buzzword to sell their designs…

Marie Yat: The underwear market has been shifting over the past few years and it’s really interesting to see that there’s a lot more variety for people to choose from. A lot of clothing stores are also expanding their interests in this area, which is making underwear less of a separate category. I’m afraid I can’t speak on behalf of other brands’ intentions, but for us, we always aim to make our customers feel comfortable and great in the pieces they wear, through the design and the materials, and through the story we tell within our presentations and lookbooks.