Noe Garments of Laguna Beach is the brainchild of twin sisters Bonnie Rae Boyes and Shelah Jean Abubo, and it’s poised for a breakout. Since 2013, the small line has turned out uber-cool undergarments, along with ready-to-wear in a mostly black-and-neutral palette with pops of acid yellow. Its edgy, urban vibe is not O.C.’s usual surf-boho aesthetic, and it can only be found locally at The Celect in Costa Mesa and American Rag, Fashion Island. It’s more popular on the East Coast, in Hawaii where the sisters grew up, and in L.A. at Fred Segal, Ron Herman, and Dash. With their next move Feb. 1, the sisters aim for a bigger splash—a new swimwear line.
As the founders of Noe, who does what?
BB: I deal more with marketing, and Shelah is more involved in the elements of design.
What’s your design process?
SA: I get my inspiration everywhere. I honestly can’t pin it down. I’m obsessed with finding new textiles, architecture enlightens me, even sometimes my kids will bring home artwork that is incredibly inspiring. All of this rolls over into our designs.
They all seem to be sexy in an untraditional way.
BB: Yes, exactly! We both love mixing body-contouring pieces and styles meant to be extremely sexy, but add a slight masculine twist to them—thus the use of leather, denim, bold straps, hardware. That contradiction is our personal style.
SA: We’re always trying to show how this bra is made to be exposed. Or we’ll style a bustier over a funky vintage T. The pieces can be worn so many different ways.
They all seem made for a certain body type.
SA: The look caters to more narrow bodies, although most of our luxe fabrics are quite accommodating with stretch and can fit a larger variety of sizes.
BB: We get that a lot. But we do have a specific body type—it’s not that big bust, curvy hipped body; our shapes are not accommodating for implants. We’ve tried to open that up a little with more free-flowing styles.
Why add swimwear?
BB: When we started, we based everything on undergarments and body contouring, but our retailers kept asking, “Can we sell this as swimwear?” They said people were buying it for that anyway. I came from the swim side of things (Volcom), so this was not something we were looking to dive into. But when retailers kept asking, we took it as a sign.
What does the swimwear look like?
BB: It’s kind of a hybrid; it has the same silhouette and some of our clean lines, but it’s a little more modern, a little more edgy than other lines. We use Italian fabrics, Lycra, all solids, no prints. But they’re also foundation pieces; some of the one-piece suits can be worn as bodysuits, the banded bra-tops can be used as layering pieces.
What else is new for spring?
BB: We’re introducing black and white and a really beautiful patterned mesh from Belgium that almost looks like a lace. We like sheer to encourage layering. In undergarments, we’re continuing with the bold strapping.
Any new silhouettes?
BB: A beautiful sporty T-back bra that’s more accommodating in size. And some asymmetrical pieces in a one-shouldered dress and an asymmetrical tunic.
BB: It adds a young, comfortable spin to our aesthetic, but it’s still clean. We knew we were going to downplay colors and not use prints, and the yellow was that little punk accent.
Describe your personal style.
SA: I’m low key, but I make sure I have one special piece of clothing or an accessory that makes me feel special. And I love Balmain’s strong lines. They very much empower women, which is also what we try to do with Noe.
BB: I love the androgynous feel of vintage Helmut Lang, and I like ACNE. I always pride myself on trying to find things that are unique.
Where do you vintage shop?
BB: Chuck’s Vintage in L.A. Any time I visit a new city, I try to find new places.