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Five ethical lingerie brands that support sex workers

Five ethical lingerie brands that support sex workers

. 7 min read

Are your favourite undergarments environmentally friendly? Are they produced ethically? And, most importantly, do their creators support sex workers?

Like many escorts, I have a significant collection of lingerie. I started small, buying cheap sets from my local shopping center, then worked my way up to more expensive department stores. I began to offer ‘lingerie dates’ as part of my service - clients would take me shopping for something sexy, and I’d model it for them during our playtime.

Both myself and my clients have spent significant sums with major brands. Unfortunately, some of my favourites have since turned out to be problematic.

If you’re anything like me, you may be worried about poor labour practices, environmental issues...and above all, that you’re not throwing your money at a business that’s sexist or whorephobic. Thanks to some inspired entrepreneurs worldwide, we do have better options.

Hopeless Lingerie 2021

Why ‘ethical’ lingerie matters

Why should we give a damn about ethical lingerie?

Perhaps you’re too busy making ends meet. You might not be able to afford high-end boutiques and I’m not going to judge - I still occasionally rifle through the bargain bins at my local supermarket!

But if you have the funds and energy, buying ethically can make a difference. Lingerie shapes our everyday experience at a number of levels: gender, sexual expression, and how we feel about our bodies. Labels that support diversity can be wonderfully validating. And in a world where our natural resources are threatened, choosing environmentally conscious brands is also a consideration.

The undergarment industry is unavoidably linked to sex work. Sex workers are some of the biggest consumers of lingerie: whether we purchase it ourselves or are gifted by clients, many of us have extensive collections. We’re trendsetters - pieces we champion make their way into the mainstream via Instagram and adult content we produce. Some workers have even run boutiques, leveraging their knowledge to source and recommend the best items.

Many lingerie brands capitalise on this relationship by using sex worker tropes and styles to promote their products. ‘Burlesque vintage’ and ‘stripper chic’ are common motifs. But these same brands rarely support the sex industry openly. Some profit from the aesthetic but push sex-negative ideas or coercive labour practices. Instead of being a force for positive change, they’re often too invested in public perception to stand up for sex workers.

Inevitably, once you’ve spent a certain amount of your hard-earned income on the big labels, you might start to wonder whether you’re supporting a business that also supports you.

Here are five lingerie brands that do better.

If sustainability, human rights, and sex worker rights matter to you, you’re in luck. Turns out, quite a few labels produce beautiful, sustainable pieces while also acknowledging and supporting sex workers.

Here are seven ethical lingerie brands from around the world that are worth consideration.

Hopeless

Let’s start close to home, with my personal favourite - Hopeless Lingerie. Hopeless is a sizzling hot Melbourne brand that isn't afraid to put sex workers in the spotlight.

Hopeless was established in 2008 by sisters Gabrielle & Dominique Adamidis. They describe their work as 'dark, modern and romantic' but I just think they’re damn sexy. The lace is delicate, the straps are comfortable and many of their pieces have high waistlines and cut-outs that look great on curvy figures.

The label minimises waste by producing items made to order. They often use excess ‘deadstock’ fabric that would otherwise go to landfill, and their materials include hemp and organic cotton blend and Lenzing Modal, a sustainably sourced fibre.

When I contact them on social media, the folks behind Hopeless are quick to declare which side they’re on: “Yes we absolutely support sex workers and their rights!” It’s not just talk, either - their ‘faster range’ is modelled by escort and adult performer Lulu Reynolds.

Hopeless Lingerie 2021

Playful Promises

UK brand Playful Promises prioritises diversity, showcasing a range of bodies, awesome sustainability practices and vocal support for sex worker rights.

The label was founded in London by Emma Parker, with online stores catering to both UK and Australian customers. They offer a range of styles, from classic lace to strappy outfits and adventurous prints. Their marketing showcases diversity at its finest - they work with models various body types, are trans inclusive, and even feature older women - a lovely acknowledgement that age shouldn’t affect sex appeal.

When it comes to sustainability, there’s a lot to appreciate too. The company uses sustainable packaging and plants a tree for every order. Their swimwear and activewear is made from Repreve, a polyester sourced from recycled bottles. They also ensure that their overseas manufacturers have certified labour standards.

Playful Promises doesn’t shy away from the political when it comes to sex work. In their blog article ‘Standing up against SESTA/FOSTA’ they say, “We couldn’t call ourselves feminists if we did not support and respect femmes of all walks of life.”

Playful Promises 2021

Dream and Drive

Also from Australia, Adelaide label Dream and Drive creates vintage-inspired luxury to fit all bodies, with sex workers a special consideration.

Designer Carly says, “I started Dream & Drive Lingerie a few years ago, with the idea of being both ethical and drawing inspiration from vintage lingerie with a modern outlook.” Her work is sexy and classic, high-waisted in gorgeous black and neutral tones. Sizes range from XS to 3XL, with custom sizing also available.

Much of the range is produced using locally sourced deadstock fabrics that would otherwise be discarded. Almost everything is made by Carly herself, and she minimises fabric waste where she can.

She’s also firm on sex work and its importance. “Through history, lingerie has been associated with sex work in its variety of forms. Lingerie is for everyone, I've always been supportive of sex workers - everyone deserves dignity and respect no matter what you do.”

She adds, “I do a discount code for sex workers which is for 30% off: ‘Sworkers30’.”

Dream and Drive 2021

Evgenia

Evgenia is beautiful, ethical and sustainable...and, like Dream and Drive, they recognise sex workers' unique contribution.

The brand was founded by designer Stephanie Bodnar in California in 2011. Her work revives a technique known as ‘insertion lace applique’ - producing pieces with distinctive vintage appeal. Silk gowns, sleepwear, slips and dresses with cut-away lace panels are also included in the range.

Stephanie says, “I try to keep my brand as sustainable and ethical as possible. The most prominent fibre I work with is silk, which is 100% natural, durable, renewable and biodegradable. I am always careful to keep fabric waste to an absolute minimum.”

She hand-makes all her pieces locally. “If you’ve bought an Evgenia piece, it was made by me!”

The designer says that sex work and lingerie go hand in hand, and she’s surprised that more labels aren’t supportive. “Some of my most loyal customers are sex workers and I am proud to support sex workers and sex worker rights.”

Evgenia has a ‘uniform policy’, offering 15% off to providers and performers in the sex industry.

Evgenia 2021

KISSKILL

Lastly, another of my personal favourites. KISSKILL is a Melbourne treasure - lacy and soft, with a touch of fetish and a generous handful of sex worker inclusivity.

This female-owned, designed, and operated brand creates exquisitely sexy lingerie, sleepwear and accessories. Their lingerie is flattering but also comfortable - a winning combination.

I recall a trip to one of KISSKILL’s boutiques on a double date a few years ago - a favourite client treated a playmate and myself to a shopping spree. The salesperson was so gracious and had the good manners to not look the least bit surprised!

When contacted for comment, the KissKill team are happy to declare their position: “We'll always advocate for this community because we love independent boss babes and don't believe there should be any kind of stigma associated with sex work!” They run shopping nights for sex workers and celebrate International Whore’s day on their website blog. Some of their team members also work in the sex industry.

If this appeals, sexy workers can claim an impressive 20% discount as part of a promotion with the Wholesome Whores podcast - use the code WHOLESOME20.

What needs to change?

In a perfect world, lingerie designers and manufacturers would support sex workers.

What could this look like? Firstly, it means big brands being vocal about sex worker rights. Every additional voice matters and support from industry can add weight to our efforts for decriminalisation.

Offering discounts for sex workers shows recognition and proves that our support is valued.

I’d also like to see us included - labels listening to us when they develop new products, and featuring us when they promote them. By creating pieces for diverse bodies and promoting real, diverse workers - not just those who fit acceptable mainstream stereotypes - these businesses can show that they understand and value what we do.

We might not be there yet...but in the meantime, the brands described above are all well worth your attention. By focusing on lingerie labels that prioritise our rights, we raise the bar for everyone.