Trying on lingerie is a deeply sensuous process. What other type of purchase involves you being so aware of your physicality and forces you to be grounded in your body? I love buying lingerie in independent stores, where I am surrounded by beautiful things that awaken my sensuality and womanliness. Imagine: being surrounded by soft materials, touching the fabrics that will soon be against your skin, being advised by a lingerie expert who will help you find a style and fit it to you. No two women are the same shape, and finding the right lingerie is therefore a bespoke experience, even if the product is not tailor-made for you. To me, buying lingerie online is a vastly inferior experience. There is great excitement in opening a package but for a truly satisfying shopping experience, I want to feel like a queen, to be pampered, to have people making a fuss over me. This type of customer service is only available in a shop, studio or atelier.
Another reason to be in a shop is that sometimes you just don’t notice a brand’s uniqueness until you see it up close. I was aware of Beija London and I love their quirky campaigns on Instagram, but I wasn’t immediately struck by the lingerie styles as being “me”. However, Julie, the manager of the new Beija store in funky new shopping destination, Coal Drops Yard, invited me to come in for a visit and I am so glad that I did. I now have more lingerie to recommend to women of the world: the women who are not lingerie bloggers or exhibitionists – the 99% of women who want to wear comfortable, stylish, high-quality underwear every day.
Sisters, Abbie and Mazie, are behind the Beija London brand, and design all their products in their West London workshop. All bras come in 3 sizing categories within a particular style – X, Y and Z. Each of the size categories share the same fabric and style accents within the range, but differ in important features to suit the requirements of that bust size. For example, the X range is for small busts, and are always wire-free, while the Z range is for DD-G cups and consists of more supportive features. Whilst it has been fairly common for some time for some lingerie brands to feature 2 styles within a range for different bust sizes, I have never come across a brand that makes 3 variations in each range.
The Beija styles range from sporty, to romantic, to swimwear. All are super-comfy with high quality hardware. A feature I love is that all bras have a J-hook so that they can transform into a racer back. I was especially drawn to the minimalist styles in white, black and Ash. There are pretty pinks and eye-catching yellows as well but I was looking to fill gaps in my lingerie wardrobe so I didn’t try those on this time.
After much deliberation, I couldn’t tear myself away from the Stripes X bra in white and the For Keeps Y bra in Ash . Most styles come with two styles of knickers. I’ve been enjoying wearing these sets so much in the warm weather as they feel wonderfully cool and comfortable. More than anything else, I had a fabulous time with Julie, finding out about the brand, its ethos, its history, and looking forward to being able to acquire even more pieces from its wide range of styles.
In this day and age, it is a brave move for an independent lingerie brand to open a retail outlet. There are now so few lingerie shops, even in a city like London. Beija has been lucky to land in the visually arresting and historically interesting Coal Drops Yard, next to Kings Cross station, where steam powered trains once rolled in to have coal dropped into their wagons. The yard was later a warehouse for glass bottles and by the 1930’s, 30 wagons of bottles were being offloaded by ‘gangs of fearsome and muscular women’, who were also said to be ladies of the night, lending the area its reputation as a red light district. In 1980’s and 90’s the area was the epicentre of the rave scene, with Bagley’s nightclub packing in thousands of clubbers every Saturday night. The Yard has now been transformed into a high-end shopping district, with a soaring roof designed by Thomas Heatherwick Architects. As any retail expert knows, the area will have to offer more than just shopping. It will need to draw people in to an experience, a story, a day out – with food, events and a buzzing atmosphere. I am so pleased that a lingerie brand is part of this experience and Beija London will become a destination shop in this retail story. If you’re in London, be sure to pay them a visit and be prepared to be pampered and have a fuss made over you in this oasis of femininity.