Bei Kuo likes being naked. “I don’t see it as sexual,” the New York-based designer says over FaceTime – fully-clothed, we might add. “It can be,” she clarifies, but either way, “I don’t mind.”
Born and raised in Taiwan, Kuo admits she didn’t always have this attitude. “I grew up in a culture where everything about sexuality is so behind,” she explains, praising NYC’s open-minded approach to dating. “Once I started dating multiple people, I became more comfortable with my own skin. Now I don’t see sex as wrong thing.”
Armed with this new mindset – as well as a prestigious MA in Design from Parsons – Kuo started her tastefully audacious lingerie brand The End in 2016. Its twisted, BDSM-leaning undergarments are inspired by her boyfriend’s body piercings, with odd-ball bralettes dotted with silver hoops to emulate pierced nipples. To match, there are also slinky G‑strings, cut-out briefs and garters featuring punk-adjacent chunky hoops, finished with racy fishnet bodysuits.
But it’s not just about the undies. The End’s founding ethos is also centred on its creator’s core belief that “eco-friendly can be hot too”.
“After years of studying and working in fashion, you can really understand why [it] is one of the most polluting industries,” says the thirtysomething, alluding to the 1,715 million tones of CO2 the industry was responsible for emitting in 2019. “I started The End because I wanted to make myself organic, environmentally-friendly lingerie that I actually wanted to wear.”
Each piece is consciously crafted using organic cotton, with 95 per cent of the packaging – from the box down to the shipping tape – constructed from recyclable and biodegradable material. Additionally, the label works alongside non-profit organisation One Tree Planted to do just that for every product sold. After all, “there’s nothing sexier than saving the earth”.
The End is also the latest women-helmed lingerie label to champion inclusivity, from Rihanna’s boundary-busting Savage x Fenty, to newcomer Dora Larsen’s empoweringly delicate intimates. And in the wake of historically-problematic, male-run underwear merchants Victoria’s Secret permanently cancelling their catwalk in 2019, Bei Kuo is firmly on the right side of, well, herstory.
“I like to think our customers are people who dress for themselves, not dress to please others,” she concludes. “Whatever their size, ethnicity or age, I want them to feel sexy wearing The End.”