Any living, breathing human who’s ever shopped for swimwear knows the turmoil that can come with the experience. That terrain is also far too familiar to Atlanta De Cadenet Taylor; who grew up as a model in an industry that was far less championing of diversity than it’s striving to be now. As such, when time came for the multi-hyphenate 30-year-old to finally create her own project after years of collaborating with other brands on body positive collections, one of the first things to go out the window were “stupid” notions of sizing. The newly-launched Lushious (isn’t the name itself just delicious!) relies on a size chart with adjectives such as a ‘Peachy,’ ‘Heavenly,’ and ‘Divine’ instead—and it’s just one reason why a community is clamoring to get involved. There’s also the focus on sustainability, digital accessibility, impeccable fit, and so much more. De Cadenet Taylor tells us how it came to be, and what the future holds.
What sowed the seed for the brand?
I’ve worked in fashion forever, starting when I was 15 as a model. I was very privy to body shaming, as this was all pre the body positivity [movement] so it was a hard world to be a part of. In my adult life, all I really wanted to do was make a positive impact, particularly on fashion. Throughout my career, and my life, with each job that I did, particularly with collaborations, each one has had a body positivity spin on it. The first collaboration was with Revolve; we went up to a XXL and used un-retouched models which, at the time, was a big deal. With another collaboration, with a lingerie line, we went up to E cups when they’d previously stopped at DD. So I’ve always been experimenting about how to make a positive impact, provide a service, or create something for people who had been excluded.
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How long has Lushious been in the pipeline?
My dream was to have my own brand. When the pandemic started, we were all left questioning what we were going to do. All of my contracts fell away. I was in LA, looking around at all my vintage clothing and my stepmom said, ‘Bean. Maybe now is the time to start your line.’ So I decided I’d learn about the possibility of starting it. I locked myself in a room and really learned everything I could about starting a business. I’d experience with design, but I had to learn about the production side too. That was about a year and a half ago!
I wanted to ask you about the name. It’s something that everyone knows what it is, but you don’t really hear it colloquially. What drew you to it?
It was originally going to be Top Notch. I had been trying to find a word; a good word, but not one that’s used too much. I didn’t want to have a brand with a name that meant nothing. I wanted people to be smacked in the face when they heard the name! I’m such a visual person. I designed the logo and I needed to find a word that looked really good in the logo that I’d been dreaming of.
Aesthetics wise, it feels very playful and groovy, and I know you’re really into vintage—what kind of things did you have on the mood board?
To be honest, I’m inspired by so many things. It went through so many iterations. Really, the design part, as it relates to color and print, that became secondary to the fit. It was all about, ‘How can I create the best fitting swimwear?’ Pieces that make you feel confident when you could feel so insecure. It wasn’t about newness. It was about core colors and creating a modular system where you can mix and match [pieces]. Like creating a system of swimwear.
What does that process of perfecting the fit look like, behind the scenes?
I didn’t mess around! My problem is when brands exclude people from the conversation. I went through five rounds of fit samples, created new patterns, and spoke to friends in the plus community. I didn’t just want to be a brand that throws out some string and a nipple cover and calls it a day. Now, our community is even finding that they run a little large, which they’ve never had before. The size chart is really based around more of what the average American woman’s body shape is; finding this middle ground between including sizes that have been excluded before and making sure they’re a part of the conversation. For example, the Disco one piece. Truly, it was me never being able to wear a deep-v swimsuit, so I said I’m going to create one. There is so much construction that goes into it; I have two criss crosses in the back, one that lifts you up and one snatches you in. I was joking that I was going to trademark the ‘Lift & Cinch!’
Like the new Bend & Snap!
I really wanted to make this piece, I’m so proud of doing it. I’ve had so many women reached out saying, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this on my body.’ They’re really connecting to it.
I wanted to ask you about the sizing system. I’ve never seen a brand give their sizes names instead of numbers and I love it!
I have been researching sizes a lot and there’s no consistency in sizing across the board. Then I was learning about vanity sizing…sizing is really one of the most traumatic things about shopping—and it means nothing! One of my co-workers said, ‘I wish people would get more comfortable with measurements.’ I’m still the girl who doesn’t want to see what she weighs at the doctors. That’s the culture we live in; thinking we need to be a certain size and under this number. Our goal is to pay more attention to measurements and not be attached to a number: ‘I’m a superb!’ or ‘I’m a sublime!’ Take out all those potentially hurtful things and try make the shopping experience uplifting, in order to provide people with pieces that make them feel good. I want the brand to feel somewhere between a big hug and your bestie encouraging you to wear whatever the fuck you want. Sizing is stupid! We’re going to do it our own way.
Back to your ‘system of swimwear.’ Tell us about the first drop and what it entails.
I didn’t want to be one of those brands where you come out with thousands of items. I know swimwear, and I knew what was missing: something that was inclusive and cool. There was nothing I would want to wear. You’ve got Savage x FENTY revolutionizing underwear, thank God, but no one was doing a cool Gen Z brand that made people feel good in a swimsuit. The beginning has been about focusing on brand values and community. I love product, but it was also about connecting about building. We’re doing drops, because I love that model. The first drop is this crazy print that we decided on, and a couple of colors. The second drop, coming out in June, will be another crazy print and a solid. That’s how we’ll do our drops: crazy print and a solid. It’s newness, but classic-ness. Staples, but also something fun! I would love to do capsules and collaborations, and my dream would be able to do makeup.
You’re defining it as ‘femmewear’—what does that term mean to you?
I think that the gender binary is so outdated. I really believe gender is a spectrum. I think that the idea of womenswear and menswear is super old school. I’m inspired by all kinds of people: drag queens, my girlfriends, my non binary friends. It’s another way [Lushious] can be inclusive. We like to say we’re gender expansive: if you want to wear it, we welcome you! But we are still super inspired by the feminine aesthetic.
How does sustainability come into play?
We took a lot of sustainability efforts. We’re definitely not perfect—as a small business trying to be inclusive and sustainable, it’s a real challenge—but I’m welcoming it because I think it’s so important. I would love to be a carbon neutral brand. Right now, we’re 80-100% recycled material, the trims are partially recycled metal, and all packaging is recycled. As a brand that can live in the future, you have to be sustainable, especially as a new brand. People might say, ‘Why create a brand at all?’ And to that I say well we don’t live in a nudist colony, people need clothing! I look at sustainability at a holistic level: how can we create sustainable economies, relationships, give people jobs, help marginalized communities? It touches a lot of different areas.
You saying ‘a brand that lives in the future’ reminded me to ask you about the digital side of things, like your NFTs.
I’m so inspired by the idea of living in any kind of metaverse. I know that the word is a buzz word, but for me, its another way of being creative which I love and I connect with the community aspect. With NFTs, for example, they’re our digital influencer ambassadors. She’s wearing our swimsuits in [the NFT]. I see us as a brand creating clothing that avatars can wear, and that can be worn in games. We can create digital versions of our pieces, as we already use 3d renderings, for Decentraland or Roblox, or so you can dress your avatar the same way you would dress your IRL person.
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You’ve done so much in your career, how does Lushious represent the next chapter?
I feel like everything I’ve done has led me to this point. I’ve learned so much from every opportunity and discovered what really matters to me. I’m grateful coming to it at this point—not seven years ago when I wanted to create an entire ready to wear line! Modeling really messed me up, to be honest with you, and I struggle still with body acceptance. I feel good in my body most of the time, but if I were launching a swimwear line four years ago, I would have been freaking out. Podcasting really taught me about activism, hearing other people’s stories, telling other people’s stories, and amplifying voices. Using my privilege to support others. I wanted to create something important, that has a positive impact and reflects my love for fashion and vintage. The only thing that was really new was the business part, which has been an uphill battle. I never went to school because I started working at 15. I didn’t even have Xcel on my computer until I started Lushious!
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You mentioned beauty, but what are some of your other overall dreams for the brand?
I’d really love to be a brand that creates a digital world. I’d love to create our own game, a dress up game. I’m really obsessed with that stuff! I want to use Lushious to create a place where people can experiment with their identity, have options, and express themselves. I’m such a community girl: I love my people, I love my followers, and my ambassadors. I’m so inspired by them and my friends and how they dress that I find I even go to sleep excited. For the last year and half, it’s been so up and down, but I can’t imagine not feeling this motivated and inspired.