Shopping

Why Meena Harris Designed A Bridgerton-Inspired Merch Collection

You'll "burn for" these clothes.

Why Meena Harris Designed A Bridgerton-Inspired Merch Collection
Instagram.com/Meena

Does the phrase “I burn for you” make your body tingle? Does 19th century period costuming suddenly seem like a perfectly appropriate form of daywear? Does your heart flutter every time you think of the Duke? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve got a case of Bridgerton-itis — and you'll be thrilled to learn there's a new Phenomenal X Bridgerton collection to shop just in time for your rewatch.

For the uninitiated, Bridgerton is the buzzy period drama based on Julia Quinn’s romance novels that everyone's talking about. The series made its Netflix debut on Christmas Day 2020 and — like every other Shondaland show in existence — quickly became a cultural phenomenon. One of Bridgerton’s biggest fans is Meena Harris, the author, entrepreneur, and founder of the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, which creates statement fashion to support charities.

“I am a huge member of the Shonda Rhimes fan club,” Harris tells Bustle. “As a creative, as a Black woman leading in Hollywood, she is such an important figure and an inspiration for me. Any opportunity I have to celebrate Shonda Rhimes and her creative talent, it’s one I will joyfully be a part of.”

So, when Netflix tapped Phenomenal to create a merch collection for the show, Harris didn’t need much convincing. “I am obsessed with this show,” she says. “Frankly, I’m not somebody that’s actually into period pieces. I was drawn into it because of Shonda, her casting Black lead characters, wanting to see that on screen, and wanting to support that.”

For the first drop of the Phenomenal x Bridgerton collection, the designer Chantal Strasburder — of Read Receipts fame — created four pieces that amplify the show’s powerful female characters. The first iteration includes a “Dear Reader” crewneck sweatshirt, an “I wish to be entertained” hoodie, an “If there’s a scandal, I shall uncover it,” top, and an “I burn for you” crewneck sweatshirt. The collection starts at $59 and is on sale at phenomenalwoman.us.

Harris says she gravitates toward hoodies and sweats partly thanks to their ease of wear, especially during pandemic times. “The big secret is I’m actually terrible at style,” she says. “This is why I stick with the basics of sweatshirts. Otherwise, I need a lot of help or it can really go wrong.”

She may think she's "terrible" at style, though fans of Harris' chic Vampire's Wife dress might beg to differ. Her other go-to brands of the moment include ARIAS New York, Hill House Home, Ulla Johnson, and Batsheva.

She also loves Cushnie, the luxury label founded by Carly Cushnie that closed last fall due to the pandemic's economic impact. “Unfortunately, she’s one of the few Black women who had a label that had to close her doors, so I think it speaks to [the importance of] supporting women of color.”

Ahead, Harris walks Bustle through the inspiration behind each piece of Phenomenal x Bridgerton merch.

1

For The Queen Bee

“On [this one] in particular, we imagined it as your like Netflix-watching, cozy hoodie. Ideally [you'd be watching] with your wine glass, as a nod to Scandal, is why I included it. It’s less about style, more about function.”

2

For The Town Gossip

“It’s an obvious reference to Lady Whistledown, but there’s just so much in that around women who are speaking, right? Women who are speaking to an audience and saying, ‘Listen to me, dear reader, I have something to say to you.’ Women using their voices. Women telling a story. It’s like your writing sweatshirt.”

3

For The Scandal Obsessed

“[This sweatshirt] is about focusing on the words, statements, and expressions. You know, the strong female lead. Obviously, we’re all at home right now still, but I think people like having things that have messages [that are] conversation starters.”

4

For The Hopeless Romantic

“People tend to shy away from white sweatshirts. I definitely initially had that view, especially having kids. Everything gets so dirty. But there’s just something [about] white crewneck sweatshirts — something very fresh and clean in a way that you can dress it up, but it’s still like a sweatshirt. And then if you do stain it with pizza or something, you could just tie-dye it.”