Recently we asked you what you’d like to know about what’s happening behind the scenes here at Valiant HQ and the resounding response was that you’d like to know more about the design and development process from start to finish. Ask and you shall receive!
What is the design and development process we’re following and how are we getting from our initial ideas to the finished items?
We think of the process as having 8 basic steps:
- Ideas, inspiration and moodboards
- Technical drawings
- Pattern making
- Samples and fit testing
- Design approval
- Production (!!!!!)
Want to know a bit more about each step along the journey? Read on!
Ideas, inspiration and moodboards
We’ve already spoken a bit about our starting point for creating Valiant’s first collection.
We knew what we wanted and we reached out to you and asked what you want and need.
The overwhelming response was that, in addition to wanting something that is comfortable and sensitive to your body, you also want something beautiful, a bit luxurious, a bit sexy. And colourful!
So, taking that on board, we started planning the first collection.
We pulled together our notes on how we wanted our collection to feel (really lovely super soft fabric so they feel really nice against your skin and don’t irritate any sensitive areas or scars), how we wanted them to function (supportive, comfortable, non-wired, pocketed so they they can be used with or without breast forms) and how we wanted them to look (fun! feminine! sexy! colourful!).
We started to compile our ideas and refine them into our collection. we thought about the design (all the beautiful lace), the silhouette, construction and material.
Throughout this initial process (and the following steps), we have been keeping in mind women who have had different forms of reconstruction as well as women who use breast forms and women who don’t. Lots of you have been in touch with suggestions which is enormously helpful. Keep your suggestions coming!
Things start to get technical…
We’re working with a specialist lingerie product development studio based in London: London Contour Experts.
Once we had compiled our ideas and inspiration and refined it in to the garments that will make up our first collection, LCE produced the initial technical drawings or “CADs”. These are essentially the blueprint for each design so they’re more than a fashion illustration; they begin to show elements such as placement and type of seams, components to be used and so on. They set out the map for the correct construction of each garment.
Ultimately, these technical drawings are used to create “tech packs”. Tech packs are so important. They are the full instructions that the manufacturer will ultimately use to create each item! They include every detail the manufacturer needs: the materials / components, colourways, details of the different sizes….
Once the technical drawings and tech pack have been created, it’s time to source the materials and components for each design.
Material choice is very important to us. We want something that looks great but feels amazing to wear too!
We’re going to write an entire post about fabric choices – that’s a story for another day!
Once the materials were sourced, our wonderful dream team at LCE created the first patterns.
Lingerie patterns can be pretty complex. This picture shows some of our first patterns pieces. There’s lots to think about – bras can be composed of between 20 and 40 different elements!
Samples and fit testing
This is when things start to feel real. Really real!
Working from the tech packs, technical drawings and first patterns, LCE created our first samples.
The samples were then reviewed and tested. This involved thinking about a few different things:
- Design: how does the overall creative design look? Is it bringing to life the original ideas? Is it the beautiful garment we set out to create?!
- Fit and function: is the garment fitting and performing as we want it to? Is it as comfortable and glorious as we hoped and dreamed?
- Construction: are the technical elements of the construction working as they should? Do they add or subtract to the overall design? Does anything need to change?
After reviewing the first samples, and taking them on an extensive “test drive”, we were able to identify what’s working really well and what could be even better.
Following the initial samples and fit testing, LCE are working hard to amend the patterns to take into account any improvements we want to make. The next step is to test another round of samples to check that the improvements are as fabulous as we think they are.
Once the samples have been approved and the patterns are finalised, it is time to create the full size range.
Samples are created in one size. Once this is perfected, the patterns are “graded” so that every size in the collection can be created.
Grade fit test samples are then created so that our lovely lingerie can be fit tested on different sizes. We’re aiming to do this within the next month – exciting!
Once we have finished the sampling, grading and fit testing process, it will be time to approve the designs!
Everything will be check a final time to ensure the tech pack is 100% accurate.
If no further changes are required…. it’s time for production!
The collection is looking gorgeous! The lace is beautiful, the fabric soft, the colour combinations fun and flattering! It’s time to bring them into reality…
Each of our garments will be lovingly handmade for you in London. We’ve chosen to produce in London for a number of reasons, not least because we can satisfy ourselves that the whole team are paid a fair wage, have good working conditions and a proper work / life balance! We also like that we are able to work closely with our highly skilled manufacturing team to ensure our production is efficient, minimises waste and reduces our carbon footprint.
So that’s the basic “design and development” stuff. What does that mean in terms of the timeline? At the moment we’re in a really exciting stage… The first patterns have been designed and we’re about to start trialing second samples! In the next month we will be looking at how everything performs across the size range.
Once that’s done, we’ll be working full steam ahead toward our production run and our launch!
We’re so excited about what the next few months is going to hold. Thank you for being here with us from the beginning!