Lingerie is something we all, as women, wear on a regular basis. We want to both feel and look good when we wear it! Comfort is so important when picking out the right bra and panties. Even determining which brands to purchase from can be a whole process. Ebony and Ivory Lingerie is a Canada-based brand that brings together African and Caribbean cultures and provides us with comfort, representation, and storytelling. From the names of each style to the beautiful designs, there is so much meaning behind it all! Fanta and Kristel, the founders of Ebony and Ivory Lingerie, became friends in 2012 while meeting in Toronto, Canada. Since then, they have been building on this idea of a brand that embodies everything they believe in before officially released in the March of 2021. This isn’t just lingerie, sexy pieces you wear for yourself or your significant other, but so much more! I had such an amazing time speaking with both Fanta and Kristel about their backgrounds, how Ebony and Ivory came about, and what their favorite things about being a woman are!
Neither women are from Canada originally but their paths were destined to cross! Both Kristel and Fanta are entrepreneurs, having the ability to dabble into different industries and do what they love. Kristel is from the French Caribbean and even had her very own restaurant in Toronto. Along with being co-founder of a booming lingerie brand, she also is a Product Manager who helps brands launch and grows their businesses. Fanta is from West Africa and lived in France before moving to Canada. She works in education with children. What Fanta loves most is that she’s able to bring awareness to the community about their culture and the beauty of it all.
The idea of a lingerie brand wasn’t something that came about overnight. Fanta and Kristel spent time going through their closets and instantly connected to their love for lingerie. They had no choice but to acknowledge that while lingerie makes you feel and look good, there was a major demand for Black women to be more visible in that space. If you take a look at the majority of lingerie brands throughout the world, there’s no denying that there is a clear lack of representation when it comes to Black women and women of color. Women, especially Black women and women of color, are such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and skin tones. The colors “nude” and “flesh tone” rarely ever accurately depict our color. Too often the models we see on runways, commercials, and advertising are only the European standard of beauty, not the reality which is that beauty comes in all forms. Fanta and Kristel knew it would be their mission to shift that narrative with Ebony and Ivory. The name even came about because of the founders’ skin tones and how they wanted it to be inclusive to women of all shades. Ebony and Ivory not only provide colors to mesh well with your skin but also gives you the history and an understanding of the Afro-Caribbean culture.
Back in 2019, Fanta and Kristel started thinking of color designs. Kristel missed lingerie from France because the quality was better and she couldn’t see herself in any of it or couldn’t find her skin tone. Ebony and Ivory brings forth both African and Caribbean history, which is the foundation of the brand. The designs don’t just look beautiful, there’s significant meaning behind each. For example, their first collection which was released in March of 2021 is The Yemaya. In the Afro-Caribbean religion Yoruba, Yemaya is the Ocean Mother Goddess. She is the protector of women and the most nurturing of all Orishas. This set comes in either a rich black or a vibrant red with gold Cowrie shells. Cowrie shells aren’t just beautiful but they also represent goddess protection, hence the collection name and correlation to Yemaya.
Ebony and Ivory also have two collections that will be available for preorder at the end of May – The Adinkra, and The Graviola. Adinkras are symbols, originated in Ghana, that represent aphorisms or concepts and are often found in clothing and pottery. I actually have three Adinkra tattoos (Duafe, Dwennimen, and Eban) and felt even more connected when I saw the Duafe Adinkra symbol on Ebony and Ivory’s upcoming collection. Graviola is a tree that can be found mainly in Africa, South America, and some Southeast Asian countries that produce the fruit soursop and help to treat infections. By choosing the names and designs of each collection, Fanta and Kristel are creating a community and expanding our horizons to new cultures. Even women who may not have grown up understanding these cultural backgrounds are now able to learn and understand more about it and our history.
Since we wear bras and underwear every day, Fanta and Kristel wanted to make sure the women wearing these pieces felt comfortable. They spend a lot of long days researching materials that would feel amazing against the skin but were also sustainable. Ebony and Ivory use both bamboo and modal fabrics throughout their collections. The bamboo and modal fabrics use less water, are more breathable, and are better for your skin. They work with amazing tech pack designers. Ebony and Ivory bras have a ton of support but they have stepped away from the traditional underwire bras. Kristel let me know that was big for her when designing the collections. Also, the inside cushion of the bra cup, which is usually white or a peachy color, is dyed brown by manufacturers to reflect the skin tone of the women who will be wearing them. In the near future, Fanta and Kristel are working on creating underwear that is period leakproof and bras specifically for pregnant women. The ideas they have to support all women of their community and all around the world are limitless.
2020 was a weird time for us all but during the pandemic, Fanta and Kristel were able to really focus on the brand. Fanta was in France but connected virtually every single day to help build the brand. Education, supporting, and embracing each other is how they keep it together during such unprecedented times. Knowing that they would officially launch in 2021, the lockdown gave them a chance to build on this idea they had been talking about for years and actually put some action behind it. Since Ebony and Ivory is online, sales weren’t an issue for them but before the pandemic, they had plans to do a few pop-ups throughout Toronto but those have been delayed until the world starts to readjust to the new way of life.
Every day I wake up and am so thankful that I am a woman. We are so magical! Fanta explained that she’s not gender-oriented but is more so proud to be a woman of color because we have the ability to always do better and make it through anything. Kristel loves being a woman because we’re powerful, we’re vulnerable, and we’re able to create life. I loved every minute of talking to Fanta and Kristel, learning more about their backgrounds, as well as so much insight into the principles and foundation of Ebony and Ivory. Be sure to check them out on social media, order your lingerie, and stay tuned for their upcoming collections and new products!