As someone who loves lingerie, I have no idea how I haven’t come across Australian-based lingerie brand, Honey Birdette sooner. But luckily, a friend of mine recently introduced me to it and its founder, Eloise Monaghan, just in time to see the retailer launch its incredibly sexy, sustainable collection of swimwear at Miami’s Swim Fashion Week. Not only was the show itself exhilarating, but chatting with sex-positive Monaghan piqued my interest in how Honey Birdette came into existence.

Prior to Honey Birdette, Monaghan worked in London in public relations. “When I came back to Australia in 2006, honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do next,” she tells me. But, it was a visit to a dimly lit sex shop that left such a bad taste in her mouth her fate was sealed. “The guy behind the counter had been smoking, and I felt awkward and dirty while I was in the store. I really felt that there was a need for an empowering environment for women to explore their pleasure and sexual wellness—somewhere they didn’t have to go through a back entrance and leave with a paper bag feeling like they needed a bath.”

The day after her experience, Monaghan registered the trademark and Honey Birdette was born. In addition to the seedy store experience, Monaghan gives credit to her mother for introducing her to lingerie. “My mum was a huge inspiration behind the brand. As a corsetiere, she’d worked in lingerie boutiques and department stores when I was little, and she’d always had beautiful lingerie,” shares Monaghan. “Mum was the leopard print queen and used to mop the floor wearing high heels. She was the original Honey Birdette.” 

The first boutique opened in 2006 and offered high-end lingerie and premium bedroom toys. Fast-forward to today and Honey Birdette has more than 60 boutiques worldwide, including its US headquarters on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles with future stateside stores slated to open in Miami, New York, and Dallas by the end of 2021. 

Honey Birdette’s aesthetic is high-end with just the right amount of naughty (and bossy) mixed into the designs. “I’ve always believed this business is about empowering women, and as I often say, we’re changing the world one orgasm at a time,” Monaghan tells me. “I also want our lingerie to be something women are proud enough to show off outside the bedroom. Sleek, glamorous, and dripping with sex appeal was the original recipe—and it still is to this day.” As you can expect, the new swimwear line imbibes the same overall aesthetic. Each swimwear piece is accented with signature fox medallions, gold eyelet details, and contoured cutouts.

“To be honest, we wanted to put the sex back into swimwear,” shares Monaghan.  “We were finding that a lot of swim collections were fairly tame, so we decided to take the opulent elements from our lingerie collections and add them to our swimwear. Also, I’d personally found it really difficult to find a swimsuit in the stores that I wanted to wear. So we devised a collection that’s decadent and over the top in red, black, leopard and neon with gold accents.” Honey Birdette’s swim collection utilizes 

Honey Birdette was the final show in the PARAISO tent and featured the brand’s lacy lingerie followed by the swimwear collection. The show featured a diverse group of models including Carmen Carrera who in addition to Aquaria and Violet Chachki, who were the winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

One of the most moving parts of the show was when Monaghan came out at the end of the show with all of the models and made a point to hug and hold the hand of one of the models who took a few spills on the runway. It was beautiful to see the crowd erupt in cheers of support for both the model and Monaghan. When I ask her why she decided to showcase her new collection at PARAISO, she tells me, “We were just so excited to finally be taking part. It’s been on our radar for a few years now, and it’s the perfect time for us to showcase who we are as a brand on the runway. We also have a Miami boutique opening in November this year.” 

In terms of expansion, Honey Birdette was just acquired by Playboy. “PLBY Group is everything that Honey Birdette embraces,” Monoghan excitedly tells me. “They’re committed to sexual wellness and female empowerment, so our expansion plans are huge. I can see Honey Birdette having at least 40 stores in Europe and the same number again in the US. We opened our largest store yet in Las Vegas recently, and soon we’ll be launching boutiques in Dallas, New York, Miami and Scottsdale. We’ll also be branching into new categories including loungewear, athleisure and underwear basics that will feature some of those design elements from our most popular lingerie styles.”

When I ask Monaghan who her demographic is she is quick to tell me that she doesn’t really believe in them. “”I don’t think you can ever put an age on Honey Birdette,” raves Monaghan. “I always get asked ‘who’s your demographic?’ But, I don’t actually believe in demographics anymore. The Honey Birdette customer can be an 82-year-old woman, a 17-year-old gay man or a middle-aged transsexual.  Our customers are so varied.” In fact, going back to her first store opening, where Monaghan told me she didn’t think anyone would come, a customer in her 80s with her daughter and bought the mother her first toy. Monaghan recently bumped into the daughter and she couldn’t believe that Monaghan remembered her. “They have been following my brand for 15 years—since the beginning!” 

Other areas of expansion include a comprehensive men’s line and Honey Birdette Playbars, which are pocket versions of the Honey Birdette retail stores designed for department stores so that customers can be fully integrated into the Honey Birdette customer experience. 

Monaghan has come a long way since her humble beginnings working out of her house and stocking other labels’ lingerie. “Now we design our own lingerie that’s been worn by everyone from Kylie Jenner to Cardi B,” Monaghan proudly shares with me. “ Still, I’ve never forgotten the lessons I learned working on the shop floor all those years ago where we really honed the Honey Birdette culture, and recruited staff members who are still with us today.” 

The swim collection will be available for purchase online in August.



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