Keepin’ it Lit with AE and Wildfire Undies – Spencer Harding

Keepin’ it Lit with AE and Wildfire Undies
Words by AE Silver Photos by Spencer Harding

A few years ago AE, the sole proprietor of Wildfire Undies, bartered her Surly Karate Monkey for pattern making lessons. She then left the bike industry and decided to make Wildfire Undies her main gig. She specializes in underwear fit for a femme body, but a new line will be dropping this fall. I stopped by for a tour of her shop/bike shed followed by a session at the dirt jumps.

 

Why did you start wildfire undies?
I started WildFire because I’ve always known that I wanted to be a designer. I realized I wanted to be a lingerie designer when I began working for Elise Olson and she really taught me how to work specifically with lingerie, which I had never done before. She is also self taught and really encouraged me to go for it! Every mentor I’ve had has been self taught and I just didn’t realize I could do something completely on my own until they showed me the way. Thanks ladies!

Why did you leave the bike industry?
I left the industry because I was never allowed to be myself in it. I worked in a shop in Asheville that made me hate the industry. I was hired as the token female and didn’t realize it at the time. I would soon find out by being banned from the service area because I was “too distracting” to the mechanics, a lazy boss that watched everyone work and barked orders from dark corners of the shop, and then hired back a man that they were very aware had been sexually harassing me. I was going to work and having panic attacks everyday in the bathroom. I thought I could chalk it up to just landing in a terrible shop, but I was also surrounded by a community where being a bro was the only way to be accepted. The misogyny runs deep. Women there aren’t allowed to have their femme sides out and proud unless it means putting a tutu over your shorts for a bike ride every once in a while. I was so heartbroken that my home, which I thought was this amazing open, accepting place was totally the opposite in my adult life. Women supporting women there means something completely different. My character was attacked mostly by the women in that community. In contrast, there is little judgment and a lot of love in the small lingerie community I’m apart of.

Where do you draw inspiration?
I feel like I take inspiration from all the corners of my life, nature being the most influential. I think if someone asked, “Where do the bondage aspects come in with my designs?” It’s from vines and aroids and ferns and trails and trees and green and spring forever! But I’m a 90s kid (barely squeaked my birth into the 80s though) so nostalgia is huge for me (think 90s streetwear). But, above all else, comfort is what inspires me the most. How can I make something that looks sexy and makes you feel powerful while still being able to ride your bike or camp in it?

 

What can men who occupy spaces, like a bike park, do to make those spaces feel more safe?
Acknowledgment, space and DEFINITELY NOT OFFERING ANY COACHING TIPS!!!!! We’re just people who want to ride, too! I was at a skatepark today that felt so hostile. I showed up and was the only womxn (which is never surprising at this point), and didn’t feel like I was allowed to ride because all eyes were on me. So I stayed in my little corner to work on one little trick until a guy who could ride better than me slowly pushed me out of my little corner. So I left. Not feeling stoked.

I remember you trying to start a sewing class for survivors, is that still happening?
I’m still working on a space. I was going to have them at my house but you’ve seen my studio. It’s hard working with two people in there on machines, let alone a group. I decided I would do it there, but just all hand sewing and put it off until I could get a fun curriculum dialed. I may have found a large space though so I’m working on that currently! Most folks I’ve talked to are more interested in machine sewing. It’s IMPERITIVE to me that I put a class together that is completely free. So it might take some time to get together but it’s super important to me so it will happen.

If you are looking for some amazing handmade undies to make you look oh so damn hot, hit up AE for some Wildfire Undies. To all you bag makers out there, I heard AE is looking to get into bikepacking and loves to do trades…

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Follow A.E. on Instagram and follow along with Wildfire Undies for updates on when her shop will be open Instagram

  • Terry Dean Cain

    she is so rad!

  • AE, your work looks amazing! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

  • George T Rosselle

    I hope her business is very successful. And I hope a “bro” or two will read it consider how they treat others.

  • Dave Pelletier

    You had me at “undies”. Seriously, great article and way to make a go of it AE!

  • Nathan Crissman

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, articles about makers and seeing inside their workspace. This is so fucking good! Thank you!

  • AngryBikeWrench

    Man, I’m glad she found her thing and is enjoying it and is succeeding, but the rest of this story is a huge fucking bummer. I worked in the bike industry for a long time, and I still love it. I’m not an expert in the macroeconomics of the industry, but I am fairly confident that one of the reasons sales have been flat overall for the last couple decades is too many fucking stories like hers. And the answer isn’t e-bikes and new sub-sub-sub-niches of bikes that mostly reinvent the wheel to catch the latest trend for a year or two. The answer is to find ways to be more welcoming to everybody with an interest in riding. Because not many people are gonna put up with the kind of shit she did and still want to throw a leg over a bike. Huge respect to AE for representing.

  • Angel Herrera

    Definitely sponsored by Nike

  • Ian

    Super rad! and that Chromag Stylus is just perfect.

  • This is awesome! I love that bicycles can be a common thread between people making stuff, but not always the subject – not to mention talented entrepreneurs doing their thing. Heart breaking to read AE’s experience in the bike industry. I am really hoping this generation can make that super shitty, super real part of it disappear.

  • Mostly rad and a little sad. The perfect story…keep on truckin’! Thanks for this story you two!

  • I wanna no more about that Kanye West Chicago Skyline though?

  • Chris Valente

    As always, these individual stories told through such a personal lens, are what makes this site great. And I don’t know what is going on with that Yeti but i am in. to. it.

  • Michael&Jello

    IF this is true and can be verified, I hope more people see it since she’s using that whole sob story to sell her product.

  • GNARdina

    I’m surprised nothing was done to confirm or deny the accusation below. John, if this is true and you leave it unaddressed, it reflects on the character of your site.

  • Ok, some asshole came to this website, where AE and her company was featured and slandered her. My research points to the guy is an abusive male, still trying to control the life of an ex-employee by being abusive online. He’s her ex-boss and is clearly not all there. I deleted his comment and banned him because shit like that has no place here. It’s garbage like this that AE is talking about and it’s why there are numerous conferences popping up in the industry, aimed at helming women deal with emotional abuse from male coworkers and bosses. It is not ok in the real world and it’s not ok here. To keep trolls from invading, I’m shutting the comments down. Anyone that accused me of hiding something from the site really let me down…