How many designs do you need to start your lingerie label?

Last week I was approached by a new label to provide the technical aspects of all their designs so they could launch their own lingerie label. This included mocking up spec sheets, writing up their tech sheets and support on measuring up their garments and getting them to manufacturing stage.

They had 13 individual designs! 

Having launched my own label previously, I know the amount of work that goes into producing each piece, getting each piece fitted, sourcing the fabric, and then manufacturing each piece with minimums that the factories want (or the amount of sewing you have to do by yourself). Working on the 13 pieces wouldn't have been a problem, but I told them to go back and re-look at each piece, and if possible come back with no more than five designs, (seven totally tops). 

I spoke to them about trying to create signature pieces for their label, and putting those designs into different colour ways for fabrics, for every piece you design, you are creating more work and if you're starting out, chances are it's probably just you doing everything. It's best to start out with five tight pieces, otherwise you are spreading yourself too thinly when problems crop up.

So if you are out there starting your own lingerie brand and have so many designs that you can't pick where to start, or want to produce all twenty!! Go back one step.

Who is your core customer?

Who are you pitching at? Please don't say everyone. Try to design for everyone and you'll end up designing for no-one. Your designs will be so watered down that no-one will glance at them. That's not to say that people out of your demographic you're aiming at won't buy your lingerie, you just need to be pitching at a certain group of people. In the book HTBALD it covers this and gives an example of profile questions that you can use to profile your customer.

It will take you far longer to launch if you have so many designs .If you look at independent designers, you will see that that the same design crops up each season in different colour-ways. Having smaller options of designs, you can see which designs work and sell and which don't. If you are still insistent on wanting to produce all of your designs why not check each season and introduce new designs and get rid of old ones that are not working. 

The same pattern, put in different fabrics for each season for Vanjo.

The same pattern, put in different fabrics for each season for Vanjo.

My first meeting with Topshop I took 2 different style bras, and 2 different options of briefs and one thong, (over four stories) and that was it. The collection was tight, so the buyers didn't get distracted. Remember you only have a certain amount of time to wow them, if you're pulling out design after design then they might wander.

My meeting was in June, and I was showing the Spring/Summer collection for the following year, they wanted to see the collection for Autumn/Winter of that year, did I have one? "Of course I did" (I didn't) I told them that I was I was in London for two days and would be flying back to Ireland and when I got back I could send through images. Truth was I was flying back that night and sat and made a new collection and got it shot and sent through to them within the two days. Because I was only working on the 5 shapes, they had seen them and knew how they work, I offered to leave my samples there as a reference if they wanted so they could have a reference of the shapes, so they could off the images that I sent them. If I had had more designs, I wouldn't have been able to turn around a new collection so quick, and they wouldn't have know how the shapes of the lingerie would have worked.

Building loyalty of a customer By keeping the shapes consistent throughout your collection each season, means that shopping online is made easier for your customer, they can order in confidence knowing that that shape worked for them. Throughout Vanjo (for four years) I had two shapes of bra that I used, whilst I worked on a third.

Remember that one shapes has infinite ways of producing new designs, Below is an example of using the Betsy lingerie brief pattern in different fabrics. 

Lingerie digital pattern betsy
Betsy lingerie pattern

If you think you still need more than ten design of lingerie - then by all means go for it, no-one know your lingerie brand better than you, but try to remember the points above, and if you need  a hand with any of them, then please contact me.

What to write onto Lingerie Patterns

I think we've all done it, drafted out a pattern, only to return back to it and not quite understand which one it was. Or perhaps your more meticulous and want to write all your information onto your pattern but don't know where to start or exactly what to put on it.

There are usually six basic things you should write:

Full image of information that needs to be written on a lingerie pattern.

Full image of information that needs to be written on a lingerie pattern.

1. The company name: This is not always necessary if it's just you seeing your patterns, however it may be worth getting into the habit for the future, for when you're sending patterns out, this will save you time rather than going through them all again.

2. Name and/or style number: So, so important, you want to be able to know instantly what pattern you have in your hand.

3. What part is the pattern: What looks recognisable when you're drafting a pattern, may not be so when you get the pattern out again, or when you've cut it out of fabric.

4. How many to cut: Pretty much self explanatory. For bras it's usually 'cut one pair' rather than cut two.

5. The size: Again pretty much self explanatory, if your pattern is dual sizing just write all the sizes on e.g. 32C/34B/36A

6. Direction of Stretch: Usually this will be indicted by 'Grain line'; on the 'Vanjonsson Design' patterns it's stated by 'Direction of stretch' as the lingerie can be made in a number of stretch fabrics, and as I have no idea on the exact fabric you will be using, the 'direction of stretch' ensures that the main stretch of your fabric is going around your body.

(7.) Any extra information like if you need to put the pattern down the fold of the fabric, and seam allowances if you need them written down to remind you. I also when I first started out, would number the patterns, for example if there was four pattern pieces I would write 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4. Just so I knew I had every pattern piece before I started cutting the fabric, which when it comes to bras you may find yourself with a pile of patterns which may have a tendency to somehow float and fall off the table!  

What's stopping you move ahead?

As we near the end of March, I'm making more plans with what to add to the website and drafting out time to take on and work with new clients. 

But before I start to draft out blogs, books and new patterns, I want to ask a question to you.

"What's stopping you move forward?"

Whether you are an aspiring designer, a home sewer, a student or someone who just loves lingerie.

What do you need help with to move forward? What would you like to see on the blog? More information on sewing techniques? Grading? The basics? Advice on starting up?

How about patterns? What would you like to see? Bigger sizes? Underwire bras? Intricate lingerie patterns?

Are you looking for online courses in lingerie or videos?

Would love to hear your thoughts and give you your next step to help you to move forward with your work.

whats stopping you moving forward with lingerie designing

When to give up on a design

Let's talk about quitting on a design, or shelving it for a later time. That design you've invested so much time to, the one which is about finished and if you just maybe work on it for a bit longer give it that final push you can move on to another design right?

Yes? No? Maybe?

This is always a hard one for me, there's the logical aspect of designing and timing then there's the designing which feels right, where you can lose time, get in the flow. I usually follow the second aspect though my head screams at me sometimes, just commit to this idea, it's nearly finished.

I'm there right now, the Harper soft bra, is a pattern I produced last year. I've spent hours on it, making it, fitting it, re-making it, re-fitting it. Changing the pattern so the seam which when into the apex now goes into the underarm for easy sewing. I've graded it, mapped out the pattern pack, and now just need to draw it up and lay it out. So the hours left to invest in this bra is less than the hours I've already committed to it. 

when to give up on a lingerie design

Yet something isn't right. And I don't know what it is. I've even changed the named the name of this bra pattern, it started out as Hemmie, and now it's Harper - to see if it was that (I know right??)

So I'm pulling it. It's standing in my way of new things. Every time I start a new pattern, I keep thinking of the soft bra pattern that I haven't finished. Just get it out the way then I can move on my brain thinks. But every time I head back to it, every alteration is slow, every sewing procedure stalls.  

I've learnt through experience that when this happens, it's best to shelve it. Not get rid. Just put it away ready to head back to it if I so desire. It's by making this choice that I can embrace new patterns to make available, that my work can hopefully speed up to the level I like to work at. 

It's hard letting go of something you've invested so much time to, but once you make that decision, a whole lot of new opportunities become available.

Try it. What have you been stalling on?

Lingerie Pattern Information

For an over view of seeing all the lingerie patterns available in one place, they are as follows:

digital lingerie patterns

The Betsy - is perfect for beginners, and for those who are skilled sewers then this brief is superb for playing around using stretch fabrics and trims. Comprising of just a front, back and gusset pattern the 'Betsy' lingerie pattern will be a treasured staple for you to design and make and sew a treasured lingerie staple, again and again.

The Harriet - This retro high waisted brief is inspired by the 1950s and offers a full coverage smoothing and accentuates curves. The Harriet lingerie pattern is a flattering panelled brief, which allows you to mix bolder and bigger prints of fabric to really make a statement in what lingerie you wear.

The Tippi - This is a classic 'Vanjo' lingerie pattern, for those who bought Vanjo lingerie in the past. This brief sits low and has all the detail in the back. The back lingerie pattern panel is split in two, with a centre bottom panel of the brief, so if you choose to use a contrasting mesh for this panel it creates a 'cheeky' window at the back of the brief. There are unlimited number of fabric options that can be used with this lingerie pattern, whether you are wanting a clean dynamic look, or a pretty delicate feel this brief can incorporate either look.

your questions that I answer: How do i design without ripping off other designers.

February 14th: How do I design without feeling like I'm ripping off other designers?

Q I Found your website this evening and yay it is just what I needed! I've only recently started getting into making my own lingerie and I feel like I've finally found my passion. I'm very keen to work on my own designs but have one question that I continually return to (one for #transformationtuesday maybe?).  Designing something like a bra or knickers is not exactly reinventing the wheel so how do you go about doing this without feeling as though you're ripping off someone else's design. Essentially there are only so many ways you can make a bra for example??!!

Hope you can help. Ordering a book this week - would you suggest the How to Become a Lingerie Designer as first port of call?

A: Okay in answer to your question: You don't have to re-invent the wheel, unless you are planning to bring a new concept to lingerie, and lets be honest it's not changed a lot in the past decades of years. But then so hasn't a lot of clothing apparel. I would start by setting up a private Pinterest board and add lingerie designs that inspire you every day, and by the end of a couple of weeks if you have a look back you should be able to see a style of what you want to design - your style. 

Look at all the strappy bras and briefs there are about at the moment, I'm even working on a pattern for one. There are many about but there are still so many changes you can do - fabrics: mesh, lace, bamboo, cotton, lycra, and colours, prints, placement of straps, sizing of bras etc.

When I had Vanjo I concentrated of a two piece cup for the bigger boobed , smalled backed ladies, but there is lots of companies and brands that use the three piece cup shape, the exact same shape yet they all look different because they have a strong brand look. Take a look at for example Freya, Miss Mandalay, Love Claudette and Curvy Kate - all of these use the same/similar shape, obviously the fits will be different as each fits to their brand, but just by looking at them you will be able to see that they are completely different.  The picture shown is the final collection of Vanjo which was my take on the three piece cup.

ripping other lingerie designers off

Once you start designing you may find that your style naturally changes as you go on, you may start being inspired by certain designers, then find your own rhythm of what works for you, but only by trial and error of starting will you reach that. 

Also I think you'll know when you start to design whether you're ripping off someones else's design off, you'll feel it, you'll know.

In answer to your second question, I'd order,"how to become a lingerie designer" it covers this topic and the gives an overview of a lot of concepts to do with lingerie design.

Hope that helps.

(and yup your question is about to go on transformational tuesday)



January 16th: Where do i start?

This weeks #transformationtuesday is a question that I think hounds us all.

Q: Hellllpppppp me! For the past year or so I have been researching designing and starting my own line, but I still don't know where to start? I have so many ideas, I want to design for the bigger sized market, design sports bras and have ideas for maternity wear. Which do I do first? Where do I start? It feels like I start then change direction and get nothing done. Any advice would be great Arrggghhhh so many questions I would like to ask you.

A: Firstly, this problem is very common. I know I have many a half finished project, or designs that didn't make the cut. Sometimes you have to work through what doesn't work to see what does. That said I think you need to narrow down your designs, leave wanting to cater to everyone to the big companies, they have the money and can hire many designers for each area of expertise. So in which area does your passion or skills arise? I think you need to sit down and work out your customer, and your unique selling point, also by doing this when you approach people about your brand or if they find you , you have a strong brand from the outset. Also make a list of what you need to learn or can do. Do you want to make and sew your own lingerie? If so do you have the skills you need, if not what is your next step? By breaking everything down it should give you a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. I would also suggest setting up a private pinterest board, begin every night adding lingerie and non lingerie images that you like then after say a week or so, look at the board on a whole and you should see a theme. This is the direction of your brand or theme of your designs. Are you images bright or muted colours? Try to see a link between them all. By placing everything in one place should keep you on the right track when you begin to want to wander on to the next thing. Lastly when you find something that is not working, question why. By looking back on what doesn't work will allow you to move on to what does. 


December 13th: How can I become a lingerie designer with no experience?

#transformationtuesday to getting you one step closer to becoming a designer. Todays question: You blog has given me inspiration, zeal and motivation to go ahead with improving myself and learning new things. But i have a little problem. My friend and I want to start our own lingerie brand but we have no design experience whatsoever. My question is how can become a lingerie designer and own my own brand when I have no design experience? is it possible at all?

designing lingerie with no experience

Answer: This is the most common question I must get asked. Yes it is possible to become a lingerie designer without any prior lingerie design knowledge, there are lingerie companies out there who have successful lingerie brands, it just takes a lot more time. "Negative Underwear" took four years working on their brand whilst they had other jobs, neither had lingerie design experience before they started they just wanted to offer ladies sleek lingerie wasn't over the top with frills. I think the most important thing is to get a strong brand together to start. What are you offering? I started Vanjo with the niche of catering for women who had small backs and big boobs, mainly in bright Liberty prints and colours that at the time weren't being offered to women. Next thing would be to work out what you want to outsource and what you want to do yourself, if you don't plan to sew them yourself then you need to look for a sample machinist/factory. Do you need your drawings drawn up? Graded? etc. Once you know which direction you want to go in it's easier to start to move in that direction.

*Transformation Tuesday is published every week on Instagram. if you have a question please email me. laurie@howtobecomealingeriedesigner.com or use the contact form on the 'my story' page.

 

Patterns being launched in November

It has been super busy at 'van Jonsson Design' head quarters, for those who don't know How to become a lingerie designer is being updated, and in November the website will contain lingerie patterns which you will be able to buy, and in good measure the website will be having an overhaul as well. So apologies on the sporadic blogs that have been sent out, will hopefully be back on track come December.

Until then here's a peek at one of the patterns: The Betsy.

 

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