Manuelo of bra blog Under the Unders is a bra aficionado, much like me, and is currently studying fashion design in Brazil! She commented on my Facebook page that she’d like to know more about my design process, so here we go!
This is an outline that was suggested to me in my first year of Contour Fashion studies at De Montfort University, and it’s been quite helpful. I don’t consider myself an artistic or creative person, but more of a technician, so I often struggle with this phase of a project as it involves sketchbooks and drawing, and my strengths tend to be in pattern cutting and constructing garments.
I build my sketchbooks quite differently from most of the other students, using an A3 sized ring binder and printing off a lot of my photographs and doing doodles in Adobe Illustrator.
1) Primary Research
Each project we undertake in university requires first-hand observational drawings. We need to be able to observe something directly with our own eyes and use as many of our senses, in particular sight and touch. Early on in our studies we did an exercise where we were blindfolded and held an object and described it to our peers. Did it feel smooth, rough, furry, silky, hard, etc.? Coming up with key descriptive words helped us choose which mediums to use in our sketchbooks. Perhaps a rougher paper with oil pastels, or a delicate tissue paper with shiny nail polish would help us progress our ideas as we drew.
Since I really struggle with drawing by hand, I try to create a lot of my drawings on the computer in Adobe Illustrator, or find other ways to get through the creative process. For my final degree collection, I had to break my primary research down into more manageable chunks, as I had a number of inspirational elements, and determine what possible aesthetic outcomes I could reach, or what materials or techniques I could use and begin my exploration. I quite often create mind maps for my design process to help me see additional angles to my inspiration.
3) Market Research
When designing commercially, it is important to identify a target market and research your competitors. Establishing a market position and price point is also imperative for a commercial collection. It needs to fit within the market. Through my own market research I designed an online survey and tried to distribute it among women who would normally purchase a bra in a larger cup size, G+ cups. I wanted to get a sense of what they wanted in a bra, what brands they were familiar with, as well as collect demographic information to further build the parameters of my collection. I was able to survey in excess of 500 women and tailor my collection to the needs and wants of the majority. Competitor research of brands that sold bras in similar sizes was also conducted looking at the sizes offered, price, quality and availability.
4) Current Trend Research
As students, we’re incredibly lucky to have access to such valuable resources as the online trend prediction website WGSN.com and library access to digital files from Nelly Rodi and Carlin. These three resources have trends specific to lingerie and are used globally by top brands, and are incredibly pricey. Designing your commercial collection with these trends in mind will ensure that your collection sits well within the market and that you keep a fresh approach to your designs.
The trend prediction tools available to us forecast fashion trends 12 to 18 months in advance. WGSN with its online presence is able to react quickly to emerging trends and fashion industry news.
As a technical designer, again, this is one of the elements that I struggle with. I’m not adventurous or fashion forward with my own apparel choices and I’m quite comfy at home in my sweatpants! However, I do like my lingerie to be ‘special’. I like pieces that are beautiful, colourful and feminine.
5) Colour Research/Colour Palette
The trend prediction tools also build colour palettes into the trends. Each trend will have a palette with the primary colours for the trend, as well as complementing colours. Colour is important for a commercial collection as it needs to sit well within the market alongside competitor brands and appeal to consumers’ fashion choices.
6) Current Fashion Catwalk References
“Fashion comes from the catwalk.” That’s what we’re told at university, and it’s true. Trends that we see from couture and high fashion designers at the London, Paris and New York shows quickly trickle down to fashion collections available from high street and fast-fashion retailers. WGSN is a great resource as it will post catwalk images immediately from fashion events from around the world, as are high fashion magazines such as Vogue.
As you can see, it's a lengthy process to get from our inspirations to our final garment design, as there's still lots of pattern cutting, sewing samples, fittings and adjustments, along with developing our patterns further in Lectra Modaris to grade them... but I hope you enjoyed the design journey!
Educating women on the benefits of proper fitting bras is important to Kim. Designing lingerie that complements the fuller figure, and is comfortable, on-trend and beautifully constructed is her mission.
We are in charge of our bodies, and we make the decisions that are right for us, with no judgement. Kimtimates supports those who make their own choices about their own bodies. #yourbodyyourchoice #mybodymychoice