Elinor Lloyd-Philipps’s Lingerie Brand Is Throwing Curves At Tradition
“I wanted to put queen-size woman at the center of my brand.”
“About six years ago I was bridal shopping, looking for a gorgeous bathrobe to wear while I was getting ready, something feminine and beautiful to wear under my dress,” says Sydney-based Christina Miller.
“I went from shop to shop and spent hours online looking for something that was not just pretty, but would fit my size 18 body. What was on offer was just depressing.”
It’s a common concern in women’s fashion, and one that owner and designer of The Nylon Swish, Elinor Lloyd-Philipps has set to resolve with her line of ‘Queen-sized’ lingerie; a brand that focusses on undergarments not just designed to fit curvier women, but to make them look good too.
“I started a blog around six years ago where I documented the history of certain garments, sizing and styling advice, posted reviews of brands and generally waxed lyrical about retro and vintage undergarments,” she says. “I got a lot of traction through the blog and decided to launch my own online shop reselling brands from around the world.”
It was something Elinor says no one else in Australia was doing at the time. She began receiving emails from women like Christina, swooning over the products she stocked but failing to find them in sizes that fit them. Elinor too, struggled to find the products in larger sizes, so decided to do something about it.
She’d grown tired of seeing beautiful designs that only went up to a size 14 or 16, saying that it made her feel like she didn’t deserve beautiful lingerie and clothing.
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“I know that I’m not alone in thinking this because I’ve heard it from my friends and customers too. I know the feeling of finding a shop or a brand that stocks clothing designed especially for my size range – it feels incredible, and I wanted to put queen-size woman at the center of my brand, I wanted it to be for them, rather than treating them as an afterthought or inconvenience,” she says.
“I remember hating my body, hiding behind people when a camera appeared and refusing to go clothes shopping. I also remember the moment I put on a corset, bullet bra and stockings. I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw for the first time; I felt empowered. For me, that moment changed everything, and I want other women to have that moment. We all deserve to feel beautiful.
“I decided to get my own products made, and the rest is history,” she says, adding that for the past year and a half, getting manufacturers onboard hasn’t always been easy.
“Dealing with manufacturers who don’t get what I’m trying to do is my biggest challenge. Many of them don’t want to produce items that I contact them about because they don’t think they will sell. For example, I would love to release stockings in a variety of skin tones, but this is something I’m finding very hard to do. Sizing is quite difficult as well. A lot of the time manufacturers refuse to go bigger than XL, so I really have to work hard to convince them to even just make a sample.”
It was also important, she adds, to drop the term ‘plus-size,’ which can often have negative connotations. Instead, Elinor has opted for the term ‘queen-size’.
“The term ‘plus’ just says to me that we are bigger than we ‘should’ be – bigger than the ‘norm’ – and it’s not a term that we like to use.”
Since The Nylon Swish has begun manufacturing their own garments, Elinor says the positive response has been overwhelming.
The message came through loud and clear to customers, she says. “They put so much trust in our designs and I receive daily emails and messages from both men and women saying that they have never been able to find stockings and corsets in their size, and they are so grateful to be able to own these kinds of pieces. They aren’t being excluded and they aren’t being forced to squeeze themselves into ill-fitting clothes when they purchase from us. I like to repost photos of my customers in our products because they always look so happy.”
Elinor also adds that it was a pleasant surprise to discover how many male customers she began to receive.
“They are always so ashamed when they email me, and often apologize for asking about sizing or product details. I love that our customers are men as well as women and I want everyone to feel included. In the near future, I would like to include photos of men, cross-dressers and transgender women in our products. I’m just struggling to find someone to model at the moment!”
As The Nylon Swish continues to pick up momentum, Elinor says that her partner Paul has also been a great support working behind the scenes to ensure the brand keeps up with demand.
“He likes to stay anonymous because he doesn’t want to make our female customers feel uncomfortable,” she says, adding that he helps with fabric sourcing, order packing and the financial side of the business. “He’s an all-round superhero.”
Since it’s launch, some of the most popular pieces include the best-selling Reyna (meaning queen) gown. The long, sheer floaty gowns are designed for lounging around the house and have become a popular choice for burlesque performances.
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“I have received so many photos from customers wearing them and they always look incredible. I’ve even seen a photo of one woman wearing hers in a river. She looked like a water nymph and it made me so happy.”
Another favorite piece are the queen-sized stockings. Elinor says she’d been turned down by several manufacturers who told her that, “fat women don’t need stockings”, or “it’s not possible to make stockings that size.” Unwilling to accept those responses, she kept searching, finding a manufacturer who could make exactly what she wanted.
“Seeing women enjoying themselves and feeling beautiful in our designs is the most rewarding part of my job. I feel like women have been shamed for being anything bigger than a size zero for so long and that has a huge impact on women’s body confidence and self-esteem. I’ve seen it with people close to me developing eating disorders and hating their bodies. It’s not right. We shouldn’t have to be defined by our measurements. For me, I see The Nylon Swish as a way of wrapping people up in pretty things and saying, see, you’re a goddamn QUEEN!”
Find the Nylon Swish at www.thenylonswish.com
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