When Ariana Madix, one of the stars of the Bravo series “Vanderpump Rules,” was photographed on her way to the show’s Season 10 reunion, she knew all eyes were on her. This wasn’t a typical end-of-season gathering for Ms. Madix, or the rest of her cast members, for that matter — this was guaranteed to be a day of explosive confrontation after she discovered Tom Sandoval, a co-star on the show and her partner of nine years, had a secret, six-month affair with Raquel Leviss, the couple’s friend and castmate.
On the morning of March 24, Ms. Madix showed up wearing a yellow hoodie that read “1-800-BOYS-LIE” and a matching sweatpant that read in all caps, “We’re sorry the number you’re trying to reach has moved on.”
“Ariana stepping out in that sweatsuit was such an empowering moment,” said Leah O’Malley, co-founder of Boys Lie, the company that made the sweatsuit. “It was her explaining how she’s feeling without even having to say the words herself.”
In an emailed statement, Ms. Madix wrote: “I’m so inspired by the founders of Boys Lie, and I absolutely love the outfit. Plus being comfy is everything to me!”
Boys Lie is a Los Angeles-based loungewear company co-founded by Ms. O’Malley and Tori Robinson in 2018. Ms. O’Malley and Ms. Robinson, both 28, grew up together in suburban Philadelphia and have been friends for nearly two decades. They share a unique bond: When they were in college, they simultaneously endured breakups from serious boyfriends who were also best friends.
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The women found catharsis in channeling their heartbreak into a business. They said they “failed epically” trying to launch the company as a beauty brand, but noticed that people were buying the few clothing items that read “Boys Lie.” With only two months of funding left before they’d have to close up shop, they pivoted to designing and selling only clothing, and it paid off.
Things started to take off in 2019 when the model Gigi Hadid wore a Boys Lie matching set that said “Goodbye” about the same time she and Tyler Cameron, a contestant from “The Bachelorette,” called it quits. The company’s boutique-level success was solidified. Their operation is small — with only 12 employees working out of a house together in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles — and in addition to its own site, its merchandise is available on Revolve, Urban Outfitters and PacSun, as well as some of the latter two’s stores.
The co-founders are “Vanderpump Rules” fans and were closely following the drama around what has been deemed “Scandoval.” Anyone paying any attention to the Bravo universe was shocked that Mr. Sandoval deceived Ms. Madix for months. Mr. Sandoval and Ms. Madix bought a house together, seemed seriously committed and were portrayed as one of the more stable couples on the show. On and off camera, Ms. Madix remained friendly with Ms. Leviss when others weren’t always so keen on her.
The co-founders had their own plans to reach out to Ms. Madix through mutual friends when her stylist, Emily Men, directly messaged them on Instagram. The 35-year-old stylist, who’s based in Los Angeles and has been styling influencers for the past eight years, said the Boys Lie brand immediately came to mind when she was planning Ms. Madix’s look for the reunion, because of their reputation for being comfortable and cheeky.
“Everyone is paying attention to everything she’s doing,” Ms. Men said. “I thought it’s just so fitting for the whole situation.”
Ms. Men started working with Ms. Madix after they were introduced following BravoCon — the annual convention the network throws publicizing their slate of reality TV shows — last October. She styled Ms. Madix for the cast photos of the show’s 10th season. Ms. Men thought about every detail of Ms. Madix’s outfit for the highly anticipated reunion. Bravo posted photos of the cast members’ on-air reunion outfits on Monday, and Ms. Madix’s red Mônot skirt and top had made waves online. Ms. Men said she wanted Ms. Madix to appear bold and sexy, but not as if she was “trying too hard.”
“I felt like it was a good way to say everything in a dress,” Ms. Men said.
Ms. Robinson said that Bravo had built a cult following of fans who wanted to know every detail about the lives of its reality television stars. When Ms. Madix leans into fashion accessibility by trading a high fashion moment for a sweatsuit that’s available to the masses, she can be seen as more relatable to her followers.
“People come out in Boys Lie,” Ms. Robinson said, “and something that’s so special about it is people wear it like it’s their own armor.”
Famous people, particularly women, have used their clothing to signal messages about their personal lives. In January, Hailey Bieber was photographed in a simple white T-shirt with the phrase “nepo baby.” Britney Spears marked her breakup from Justin Timberlake in 2002 by wearing the now-iconic light blue T-shirt that read “Dump him” in all caps and orange letters. The tee has gone on to be duplicated by knock-off brands for the last two decades.
The “1-800-BOYS-LIE” sweatshirt and sweatpants sold out on the same day Ms. Madix wore it and is currently back-ordered, the co-founders said. Less than a week after the reunion, Ms. Madix launched her own line of merchandise, including shirts that say “Cooler than you” and sweatshirts that say “Born [expletive] cool” (references to her quips on the show over the years).
Ms. O’Malley and Ms. Robinson said that the fact that the pieces worn by Ms. Madix and Ms. Hadid immediately sold out “shows the buying power these women have.” The women said they have gifted their clothes to celebrities and influencers but have never paid anyone to wear them, which makes it even more special when famous people decide to wear their brand.
“It shows brand loyalty, brand trust — and that’s something nobody can buy,” Ms. Robinson said.