Today I'm happy to talk to the Mastermind behind "Lost in Wonderland" - a small little vegan luxury lingerie label from Berlin!
The first collection will be available in Dezember (Christmas presents anyone?) via www.lostinwonderland.de.
To catch up with news and get all the latest pics follow her Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/wonderland.berlin
What started your love with Lingerie?
When I bought my first bras I was only mildly enthusiastic about it.
When I was 16 I discovered the Lingerie Department of La Fayette and hence my love to lingerie in general. Since I got a voucher for a bra for my birthday I chose a bra on sale (but it was still very expensive) by Chantal Thomass. A bit later I started my research on Lingerie Labels, asking my way through dessous shops and saving up for expensive lingerie.
By the way I still own the mentioned bra above. Of course it doesn't fit anymore and the elastics aren't quite at their best anymore but still I'm keeping it in high honours. And honestly: You can learn a lot about making bras from well made bras.
??How does this work: You've got an idea for a bra, and then? What are the stages from your idea to the design to the produced item?
It's definitely different than how I learned it in college.
First I have to say that I'm a very spontaneous and intuitive person.
It doesn't really start with "the idea".
I'm searching for my fabrics in Paris, at a fair only for Dessousfabrics. Of course I've got a vague idea where I want to go, but that's about it.
My company is very very small compared to others which often is the first challenge. Most of the time you have a high minimum purchasing quantity or have to mark-up for small volume purchases. Not even speaking of the problem that many fabrics only come in some colours and you have to pay more for dying other colours.
In the industry 250m or 300m aren't that much, but if you just think about how little fabric goes into a bra, it really is a lot of fabric.
Back in my Atelier in Berlin I'm running through the fabric samples and make an overview which fabrics and bows really got into the collection.
Then I order around 2m to make my prototypes from.
Now it's about designing, constructing the patterns and making the first prototypes. That's what takes the longest in the process. If one series is finished, I often have lost contact to the styles and would like to cross them from the collection again. But after letting them sit shut up in a box for two weeks and thinking about something else everything comes to place again.
Another example, what can happen to a little Designer: For the Autumn/Winter 2013 Collection, which I'm working on currently, I found a wonderful fabric with a baroque flower print on it and already got samples in two colour schemes. Now I wanted to buy 2m more, because I wanted to make a short robe out of the same fabric. Last week I got an email stating that another company bought the exclusive rights for exactly this print.
Great. Now I need two more fabrics. I'll have to see how I can replace them. That's very frustrating.
What time measurements are we speaking of? How long does it take from the first idea to the first bra in the shop??
That is actually very defined. The Dessousfair in Paris takes place in January and in July. In January you present your collection for Autumn Winter of the current year, in July for Spring Summer of the next year.
So there's at least half a year in between.
I'll start sampling for the new collection Mid-September or at the beginning of October, now I have to take care that the items for spring will be produced.
If you say that in July the collections change in the boutiques, I'll send the first items of the Lost in Wonderland A/W13 collection in the end of July and I designed them in October - then the time frame would be nine to ten months.
Being an amateur seamstress myself I tried my luck at designing bras too, with little success. I guess I couldn't use one of the first 5 styles. Now I'm lacking time to do some more bra designing. The bras I made actually fit myself well, but didn't fit others with similar shape and measurements. How do you construct a pattern that should fit a lot of women?
Up to now I've seen five different pattern making systems fpr bras and I don't think one of them is perfect. The breasts are a very complexe thing - and that's what fascinates me, being a passionate pattern maker. And no, I don't know all five systems, because two of them are made for the typical 75B.
I work with a mixture of the construction I learnt in college and another one, combined with experience. Fittings are essential. At this point I want to thank all my friends, who are happy to be there as fitmodels for me ;) It all sounds a bit quirky and complicated, it is, but it's what works best for me.
At some point you will have nice basic patterns, but this is my first big collection in several sizes, so I have to make everything from scratch.
What sizing range can we expect Lost in Wonderland to offer?
First only in standard sizes, not above D.
I plan to offer big cups too, but those have other demands and since I want the bras to really fit, I will take my time.
How hard is it to make _vegan_ luxury lingerie? You won't be working with silk, which fabrics will you choose?
I see a lesser problem in producing luxury lingerie without silk than the problem, that most of the women are assoziating silk lingerie with luxury.
Silk is a very nice fabric with a nice haptic, that's out of question. But from my point of view it's not an ideal fabric for lingerie. Just a few points: Elastics, Producing, Durability.
The Lost in Wonderland concept bases on its dessous being everyday wear too. Of course I'm aware of the fact that a bra made only out of lace won't provide a big and heavy breast enough support forever, that's why there is only one of this style in the collection. And if you wash your bra with care the materials will recover.
Personally I like fine fabrics made from polyamide and elasthane. Unfortunately they aren't really cheaper than silk, if you want a nice and soft fabric quality, even if that's what one thinks of synthetic fabrics.
Your lace is produced in Europe, do you want to tell a bit more about that?
I've always been a lover of nice laces, also due to the nice winged edges and the little fringes.
The laces for the Lost in Wonderland Dessous are made in Italy and France.
The French company where we are buying our laces is producing the fine laces traditionally on up to 200 years old frames, which you can't really find anymore today. The production takes a long time and is very pricey - but the lace is so delicate that it's just unbelievable beautiful. The lace on Kate Middleton's McQueen wedding dress was made by the same French company, by the way.
In general we buy all our fabrics and everything we use in Europe, some things even in Germany.
Why did you choose producing in Europe?
„Stop shopping, start buying quality!“ is a great saying that a friend of mine - she's a designer too - posted on facebook recently. If you are producing in China or India it will be cheaper and maybe not even of worse quality, but you have to think about on whose costs we western consumers buy our products.
The industry is heavy on the environment and the workers are often working under very bad conditions. Me as a Designer, I could get my items cheaper and could sell them to a lower price at the consumer and maybe even get a higher profit from it. But I can't bear this morally, especially when I want to sell luxury goods. Logistics are a lot easier if you stay in Europe too and the language and culture barriers aren't as high.
Lost in Wonderland Dessous are produced in Poland. Even if Poland isn't the cheapest country to produce Dessous in the EU I willfully chose it. We can easily jump in the car in Berlin and be at the Sewery in just a few hours. I can see the conditions at work for the seamstresses and can talk about production and problems with them (and my translator). Plus I gained some experience with polish seweries during my time as a freelancer and they were always good ones. The people are very nice, I can trust them and I'm always having fun in Poland.
And last - even if Europe is in a crisis currently - I like the European Idea and want to support it :)