Within Taiwan’s culture of conformity and stifled self-expression, Bei Kuo found a path beyond the confines of the 1-centimetre-below-the-ear hair rule, breaking free from the culture of same-ness through the founding of The End Lingerie. Lingerie that goes beyond the confines of erotic expression and intimate moments, instead serving as a daily statement of identity and confidence.
While traditional lingerie tends to adhere to grace and modesty, The End disrupts these expectations with its punk-inspired edge and inclusion of S&M elements - and few things disrupt expectations quite like lingerie inspired by cats. In the course of this interview, you’ll see why the feline inspired lingerie line is indeed sexy, and all things inspiring about The End Lingerie. If Lily Rose Depp and Kali Uchis gave the stamp of approval, it’s a nod to its quality.
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Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing in Taiwan and its impact on shaping The End? In your own words, self-expression was often stifled and you were surrounded by a culture of “same-ness”, so I’m wondering how this seemingly contradictory background led to your brand’s creation.
My early years in Taiwan were all about school uniforms and strict order, like the rule that allowed hair to grow only 1 centimetre below the ear. Expressing oneself was almost like a forbidden act at school. It was a place where fitting in was more valued than showing individuality, and any attempt to be different often wasn’t allowed. For someone who is a Leo Sun, growing up in restrictive environments like this, it made sense for me to develop a strong desire to break free from those constraints and create spaces where self-expression is celebrated.
Growing up in this culture where self-expression was silenced, you mentioned that drawing manga was a means of expressing yourself. Has your background in manga and illustration shaped your approach to lingerie design? And given the narrative-rich nature of manga, has that affinity for storytelling followed you into the ways you imbue concepts in your lingerie creations?
Growing up, manga was more than just a hobby for me—it was the only creative outlet I had outside of my study. I started drawing manga at a very young age, and I can still whip up a Sailor Moon sketch for you in no time. It was quite a surprise when my mum took me to an art studio and I found myself surrounded by kids focused on traditional painting, while I was the only one diving into drawing manga. This background in manga and illustration became the foundation of my design process. I have a vibrant yellow notebook filled with countless drawings and design ideas, with sketches of complete ready-to-wear collections that are just sitting in my drawer. Manga truly ignited my creative journey. However, it was my training in fashion school that eventually shaped the way I tell stories through my designs. The combination of my manga background and formal fashion education has allowed me to infuse narratives into my lingerie creations. It's a beautiful fusion of two worlds.
When founding The End Lingerie, did you personally experience the sense of confidence and rebelliousness that your lingerie exudes, or was it something you sought to discover through your designs?
When I founded The End Lingerie, it wasn't driven by a conscious desire to challenge societal norms or to exude confidence and rebelliousness. It was a more personal journey for me. I simply wanted to create lingerie that resonated with my own style and identity. Confidence has always been a complex concept for me. Having Asian parents, I feel like I wasn’t able to understand or learn the concept of confidence. Because often when you have accomplishments, there’s no genuine praise from your parents, because you are just doing what they expect of you. However, in my own small way, I do feel a sense of rebellion. I recognise that what I'm doing is different, and I'm pursuing this path for my own fulfilment. It's about embracing my uniqueness and staying true to myself.
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Lingerie often feels as though it’s hard to redefine, yet over the years, you’ve curated a diverse array of collections. With each new release, how do you challenge yourself creatively? Are there consistent themes that run through your work, and if so, what essence do you always aim to capture?
Traditionally, lingerie is a pair of triangle bras and cotton briefs, an undergarment that covers you. With each release, I challenge myself creatively by exploring how lingerie can be more than just functional undergarment. Because of my ready-to-wear background. I aim to create pieces that can be worn as outfits, not just something hidden underneath. This approach has become one of the core essence of The End, where we seek to blend style and functionality seamlessly. But not all The End pieces are created under that idea, because sometimes you just want to look cute and that’s when you forget about the functionality.
Your brand is known for turning the ordinary and mundane into an act of rebellion, fusing punk-inspired S&M designs to create an elevated and provocative undergarment experience. In this light, the way I view it is that you create lingerie that are not just as a medium for erotic expression confined to intimate moments, but rather as a daily statement of identity and confidence. Does this align with your philosophy behind The End Lingerie?
Yeah, that really nails down what The End is all about. I think it’s silly people still only see lingerie as garments you only wear for intimacy; lingerie is a way to express yourself every day. The End is all about people owning who they are and feeling confidence in every part of life.
What does the brand’s wearer look like to you?
Earlier this year, I had this cool pop-up in NY with Azaleas, and it was such a trip meeting some of my customers in person. I was a bit nervous, but honestly, it turned out to be one of the cutest moments ever. Chatting face-to-face instead of through a screen was just the best. As for who wears The End, honestly, it's everyone. It's like you, it's like me. We're all just navigating this world, not always sure about ourselves, just trying to feel comfy in our own skin. That's the vibe with my customers—they're all of us, on this journey of self-discovery and rocking some killer lingerie along the way.
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Lily-Rose Depp donned your Carrie Bralette in the polemic show The Idol, and Kali Uchis wore the Unwanted Bralette. What kind of impact did that have for you as a brand?
When Lily-Rose Depp chose to wear the Carrie Bralette, and Kali Uchis opted for our Unwanted Bralette, it wasn't a viral moment for The End. Instead, it felt like validation. This recognition goes beyond trends; it's an acknowledgment that The End holds a place and resonates with people like Lily-Rose. It adds a layer of credibility and depth to our brand. Personally, it still feels surreal. I’m from a city in Taiwan that many have not heard of, and here I am, seeing Lily-Rose absolutely owning my design on an HBO show. I still don’t know how that happened.
Your latest collection, Heart Of A Cat, draws inspiration from your very obvious obsession with cats, and paradoxically, you’ve managed to infuse it with sexiness and a rebellious charm. Was it a challenge infusing feline inspired elements while ensuring the collection still exudes the punk and S&M aesthetics associated with your brand? What specific cat qualities did you wish to transfer into your design process?
As a first time cat mum of two. I wasn't prepared for how emotionally attached I'd become to this furry little thing. Cats are widely acknowledged for their rebellious behaviour. They make their boundaries unmistakably clear, and if there's something they dislike, they aren't hesitant to express their feelings about it. And when they desire something, the relentless meowing doesn't quit until they get their way. Sometimes I sense my cats have more confidence than I do. Those very traits, the clear boundaries, the fearless expression of likes and dislikes, and the determination, are exactly what The End aims to channel in our Heart Of A Cat collection. It's about capturing that feline charm and blending it seamlessly with The End's aesthetic.
You describe yourself as a “guardian to those who explore into their real selves without qualms, leaving a trail of no fucks behind.” What does this role mean to you?
Wow! I really don’t remember ever making such a bold statement. I never consider myself a champion of empowerment. But, if what I'm putting out there gives anyone the confidence to express themselves fearlessly, and I’m not a leader, then I absolutely want them to keep it up!
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Sustainability is a cornerstone of The End Lingerie, yet navigating this path can sometimes be at odds with mainstream trends and production processes. Have you encountered challenges in balancing eco-conscious practices with the demands of the fashion industry?
As an eco-conscious brand, I grapple with the challenge of true sustainability in clothing production. I truly believe that genuine sustainability in fashion lies in embracing practices like thrifting and upcycling. Balancing creativity with eco-conscious values is one of the most challenging tasks for The End. For now, we release only one new collection and restock twice a year, each in limited quantities. While I recognise the potential for higher profits with more frequent releases, the truth is, no one needs new lingerie every other month.
The End takes several measures to align with eco-conscious principles. We exclusively use organic and recycled fabrics, opting for small production batches to avoid overproduction. Our commitment extends to minimising packaging and using recycled materials. We go a step further by donating past-season stock to organisations supporting sex workers and breast cancer survivors, for example. Additionally, a percentage of our profits goes to One Tree Planted each year. While these efforts may not be exhaustive, The End is dedicated to implementing eco-conscious practices to the best of our ability.
Traditional lingerie tends to adhere to established norms of elegance and modesty, yet, The End disrupts these expectations with its punk-inspired edge and inclusion of S&M elements. Do you foresee this approach impacting the broader perception of intimate apparel? What kind of conversations do you hope your designs spark among your audience or within the design industry?
When I launched The End six years ago, I struggled to find lingerie that resonated with my personal style. I craved more options in organic cotton, but many existing brands—then and now—tended to offer rather basic pieces. Don't get me wrong; there's nothing inherently wrong with a simple cotton bralette. However, I imagined a space where edgy S&M elements could seamlessly coexist with the comfort of soft, organic cotton. I wanted to challenge the conventional perception that being sexy must come at the expense of comfort. The End seeks to redefine intimate apparel, disrupting traditional norms of elegance and modesty. By sparking conversations around the merge of bold design elements and comfort, I hope to inspire a broader dialogue within both our audience and the design industry about the diversity and possibilities in lingerie.
I can’t say this enough, but I never really set out to be a shock to the lingerie industry. This idea still doesn’t suit me. I’m just enjoying the artistry of design, I really don’t care what others think. If my concepts stir the pot, then so be it.
The End makes a monthly donation (based on the number of units sold) to an organisation that plants trees. How did the idea for this initiative come about? Looking ahead, how do you envision your brand’s eco-conscious contributions evolving?
The idea for the donation was born from a simple belief - why not give back to the communities I truly believe in, rather than sending money to the IRS? While my donations are currently on a smaller scale, I'm gradually expanding the contributions beyond just supporting One Tree Planted. Now involved with organizations like Free The Girl, aiding sex trafficking survivors, participating in sex worker programs such as St. James Infirmary, and supporting Bras For A Cause, dedicated to helping breast cancer survivors. Though these contributions offer tax benefits, I just feel better knowing where my donations are actually going, instead of just tossing money into the big government pot.
Up to this point we’ve seen your work on digital platforms, any plans in the pipeline for bringing your garments to the runway?
I can't quite picture The End walking down the runway, but I'm definitely looking forward to having more pop-ups. Maybe the next one will be in LA!
As you continue to evolve The End Lingerie, any sultry surprises to look forward to in the upcoming chapters?
The next thing is our V-day mini collection with some adorable heart-shaped cut-outs. We're gearing up for a shoot next week with a new team, and I can't wait to see how the visuals turn out!
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