Commando Founder Kerry O'Brien Is the Woman Who Makes Nude Magazine Covers Possible
No clothes? No problem — as long as you've got a pair of Commando panties, that is.
Quick — think of the brand with the most red-carpet dressing credits? Gucci? Chanel? Or maybe the ubiquitous, red-soled heel of Hollywood, Louboutin?
Turns out, the brand with the biggest reach in the game is actually one you're not likely to see at all. Commando, founded in 2002 by Kerry O'Brien, a vp in financial PR turned undergarment entrepreneur, is the seamless, no-slip panty label that is the most in-demand one in Tinseltown, she says. O'Brien claims that thanks to demand from celeb stylists, designers (Rodarte, Prabal Gurung, Milly, Tibi) and celebrities themselves, she outfits more stars than any other brand.
"I did not have a design background at all, but when I was in PR, I represented so many people from different industries so I knew how to ask the right questions," said O'Brien, who quit her PR job on the day after Sept. 11 and made the decision to pursue something she could be more passionate about. She then sought out technical fabric producers and explained her vision: "I knew that I wanted a 100 percent raw cut garment that I didn't have to put elastic or trim around and that wasn't going to roll, or fray — something that was going to stay up. Six months later, Commando was born."
But it's not just stylists with whom the brand has found favor. Celebs have been known to carry their Commando briefs to photo shoots, too — even for shoots where they're not supposed to be wearing anything at all.
"I was told by the stylist that Serena brought Commando underwear to wear — that's everything Commando is supposed to be about," she noted of Vanity Fair's July issue cover starring a very pregnant Williams. Commando also made a cameo on the cover of the debut issue of Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop magazine, which saw the actress naked except for a pair of panties and some gray mud.
When O'Brien started in the biz, she noted that the primary goal of designers and celebrities reaching for her collection was to make it look as though the wearer was not wearing anything at all — think Rihanna in her crystal-covered Adam Selman dress at the 2014 CFDA Awards.
"It used to be all about the nude thong; [designers] didn't want any panty lines," said O'Brien. "Now, it's more about the black high-rise panty, or something to match. They're styling their looks starting from the underwear out. It's as important as the earrings you're going to be wearing."
On the sales floor, too, O'Brien says that the boldly printed, limited-edition graphic panties (think: a massive peacock head, a photorealistic lion head) are some of the best-sellers. And, like Spanx — which recently unveiled decorative "arm tights" — Commando is seeing a demand for shapewear that isn't meant to be hidden.
Bodysuits, faux-leather leggings and stockings are top performers, which O'Brien attributes to the fact that the company was founded with seamless, no-slip technology in mind, thus giving Commando an edge over brands that don't specialize in these technical features.
"There's no delineation between underwear and ready-to-wear anymore. It's kind of all the same thing right now," she added citing Bella Hadid as a tastemaker who had worn the brand's bike shorts as a ready-to-wear piece. But at the end of the day, it all comes back to comfort and ease. "That's what Commando is about — making women feel comfortable, yet beautiful and confident."