Let’s talk about the design process

The eight steps of our design and development process

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:

  1. Ideas, inspiration and moodboards
  2. Technical drawings
  3. Sourcing
  4. Pattern making
  5. Samples and fit testing
  6. Grading
  7. Design approval
  8. 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!

Technical drawings

A sneak peek at a technical drawing

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….

Sourcing

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!

Pattern making

Some of our first pattern pieces

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.

Grading

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!

Design approval

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!

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!

Meet Casey who is on a mission to normalise flat closure

The lovely Casey (@theflattiecloset)

Hello everyone and welcome to our next wonderful guest blog!

Today’s blog is written by the lovely Casey.

Casey is 33 years old and BRCA1+. She had a prophylactic total hysterectomy on 26th May 2020 and a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction on 30th June 2020.

Casey’s mission is to help normalise flat closure among previvors and young women, as well as to inspire the flat-chested among us with outfit ideas as she “shops her closet” post-op.

Casey has always loved fashion and clothes and having no boobs has presented a fun new challenge for her as she gets dressed each day. 

Casey says that she is a beach girl through and through. She lives with her husband and three kids in St. Petersburg, FL, right near the Gulf of Mexico.She loves paddleboarding, reading NYT bestsellers, making art (collage mostly), and drinking iced coffee on road trips with her family.

Casey would love to connect with you all on Instagram @theflattiecloset!

Here’s Casey’s story in her own words:

“I have a hard time wearing high heels because I feel like I’m lying about my height. I’ve only ever dyed my hair with semi-permanent dye because I’m happy living with my natural hair color. I never liked the idea of push-up bras because they felt a little dishonest. Heck, I didn’t even get french tips for my wedding (all the rage when I got married) because I rarely painted my nails and I wanted to present myself accurately.

Now that I write that all out, I’m realizing how completely neurotic I sound. But stick with me! The point of these bizarre confessions is this: I like feeling like the person that I was made to be. Celebrating my unique genetic makeup. Being the one and only Casey. Being my true self (cue the Disney ballad). 

So: when a BRCA1 gene mutation reared its ugly head and I needed to do something about it, I wanted to simply morph into a new, natural version of me: a girl who was losing her boobs in an effort to prevent cancer, and gaining some pretty badass scars in the process. In fact, I barely even gave implants the time of day. I knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted to go flat and stay flat. That might sound pretty crazy to most women my age, and I get it. I basically turned down a boob job. And believe me, after breastfeeding three babies, my chest could have used the revitalization. But in the end, I had to be true to who I am, and that meant opting out of further reconstructive surgery. Just scars, just flat, just my skin on my ribs. 

I knew that women went flat – I’d seen information online that indicated it was an option post-mastectomy. But when I went to search the all-knowing Google, all I found was very limited information, some clinical photos of scars, and a few forum accounts of breast cancer survivors who had gone flat. To be honest, I didn’t feel like I fit in. I wasn’t a breast cancer survivor, I wasn’t middle-aged; I was “just” a previvor in her 30s. 

I started to wonder if there really was anyone else out there like me. Did women actually just walk around and go to the grocery store flat? Were they self-conscious at all? Would I regret my decision? Would it be good to get a prosthesis? How would clothes fit? Could I still wear what was in my closet? What did not having breasts feel like? How would my brain process not having boobs anymore? 

The questions kept coming. But my biggest question was: where were the flatties? Specifically, where were the previvor flatties? 

I turned to Instagram, and began searching all kinds of flat hashtags. Once I’d waded through the photos posted by owners of Flat-Coated Retrievers (yeah, the main “flattie” hashtag is co-opted by dogs – face palm), I started to get somewhere. I found a small army of amazing women to follow, but I also began to learn that flat closure after a mastectomy was an option that had been fought for for years by a crusade of brave individuals. This group of women had been campaigning, dealing with botched surgeries, picketing for their rights, and advocating for all women to get the surgery results they desired. Going flat was a bigger deal than I initially realized – it didn’t used to be such a simple, easy decision to make.

It’s because of these women that my breast surgeon didn’t flinch when I asked her for a flat closure. She was aware because this group of women had fought to make doctors like her aware, and for that I am so very grateful. Not only did I find the flatties, but I found that those flatties were beautiful and badass. 

I’m now proud to join the crew as a newbie, adding my voice to the mix, sharing my love of fashion, and writing honestly about life as a flat previvor. I am still slowly trying to find more women who are previvors like me who have chosen to go flat – if you are one, give me a shout! We seem to be few and far between, and that’s one of the main reasons I started my Instagram account – I want to connect with you!

I want to be able to talk about what life looks like for those of us who haven’t fought cancer, but still need to fight genetic mutations. I want to showcase what clothes look like on a flat chest, and encourage women considering a flat closure that being fashionable is still an option. I want flatties and potential flatties to know that life can be good even without lady parts; that we are free to be ourselves, no matter what form that takes. 

And I especially want previvor flatties to know that their stories are valid and important, and they are not alone.”

Thank you so much, Casey. We love Casey’s mission to connect with and support other previvor flatties.

Like Casey, we are so passionate about doing what we can to ensure that you feel empowered and confident and that no woman in this community feels isolated and alone.

Welcome to Valiant Lingerie

Here at Valiant Lingerie we are passionate about creating the lingerie you deserve.

My name is Eleanor and I’m the founder of Valiant Lingerie.

I’ve been aware that there is a lack of beautiful lingerie for women who have had surgery for breast cancer basically my whole life. My mum had breast cancer (twice!) when I was 3 and had a single mastectomy. I remember how much she hated her post-surgery bras.

When I was 19 I underwent genetic testing and found out that I have the BRCA1 gene mutation which means that I am at a much higher lifetime risk of developing breast cancer than the general population. (For most women, the average lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 12% whereas for women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, the lifetime risk is between 69% and 72%.)

After a lot of research, and with the advice and guidance of some wonderful doctors, I decided to have a preventative double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction with implants when I was 24.

After my surgery, I was shocked by the lack of feminine lingerie available for women in my position. I had seen my mum struggle with this for years but I had thought that maybe this had improved over time. Unfortunately I found it hadn’t!

Before surgery, I used to wear pretty, feminine lingerie that made me feel confident. After surgery, I found the only bras available to me were plain and functional in style – they looked like something my grandma would wear!

I was desperate to find a bra that was stylish, feminine and designed sensitively so that it was comfortable to wear. I felt as though I was seen by the lingerie industry as a patient rather than a woman. And I couldn’t help but wonder how much worse it must feel for those amazingly strong women who were also going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I started to think about how unfair it was that women who had been through surgery and treatment for breast cancer were abandoned by the lingerie industry.

After years of searching for the perfect post-mastectomy lingerie collection and not finding anything suitable, I created Valiant Lingerie.

At Valiant Lingerie, my mission is to create a collection for all the women out there who have survived breast cancer or preventative surgery. They are amazing and courageous and they deserve to feel bold, confident and Valiant.

We’re so delighted to have you here at the beginning of our journey. We’ll be launching our first collection during the summer of 2020. If you would like to be the first to hear updates, and to receive plenty of notice of our launch date, please join our mailing list here.