How to create a lingerie start-up: five expert tips

My day job revolves around intimates and in the last few years the industry has seen a boom, with classic brands experimenting with new technology and new, independent lingerie designers and boutiques popping up. In my nine years of experience I’ve been to numerous lingerie tradeshows, store visits and seen brands pop up on Instagram. I’ve watched as the industry has moved away from padded bras to soft bras thanks to the influences from active wear and I’ve seen lace transformed into the most beautiful intimates. Here are my tips for emerging young designers:

1.Think about your market

One of the perks of this role is that I get to travel and see how global influences impact the lingerie market. In the US, I notice the tradeshows there focus on comfort and basics, with brands creating soft, comfortable underwear in line with the loungewear trend. By contrast a tradeshow in France is a display of exquisite lace, and in London it’s much more risky and darling with peekaboo detailing and sheer fabrics.

2.Seek inspiration online

Instagram has definitely made it easier to locate new brands starting up overnight, so it’s a great way to see what else is out there in terms of competition and inspiration. Key lingerie bloggers also are on Instagram- and the fan response they get from different items is a great way to see consumer feedback. But don’t solely depend on Instagram, fashion magazines, catwalk trends and blogs are also important. Check out for Lingerie Addict as a starting point.

3.Do your market research and get the right materials

Once you’ve got your inspiration, you’ll want to create a moodboard to help you with your focus and direction. But also think about market research, go into shops, and  go to tradeshows. Look at what the latest strap detail is. Is the bra created with wire? Is it a plunge shape or balconette? Padded or non-padded? What materials are popular now from lace to mesh, jacquard etc. A great place to start is the Interfiliere lingerie tradeshow in January.

4.Define your brand

While the lingerie market is not as inundated as womenswear, it’s a fast growing niche market with lots of cool, new independent brand popping up, so you need to make your mark. What’s your USP? Think about how you will be making and shipping your product? Figuring out these logistics early on will really help you.

5. Make sure your social media is organised ahead of time

One of my favourite brands at the moment is For Love and Lemons- the brand’s Instagram and blog perfectly compliment the e-commerce site. So think about the overall picture, sign up for your Instagram name early and start posting ahead of the launch to drive interest and create a brand identity in a social space. Think also about signing up for Pinterest and Twitter accounts, and make sure you are consistent in posting, there’s no point creating social handles if they are not regularly updated with content.

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  • Maya

    thanks for the article, I need to finally find time to sit down and think about this market, as you say so written down in my ‘to do’ column in http://www.kanbantool.com, full of hope!

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  • Buenas noche, soy diseñadora de modas y estoy empezando a crear mi marca de ropa interior femenina y me interezaria saber mas de este medio muchas gracias.

  • Maria

    Hello there
    I’ve been a lingerie buyer and wanted to set up my own lingerie line, however I have put it on hold due to the factory high minimums in China. This was a huge setback for me…
    I also want to learn the technical side of lingerie construction. Do you recommend a course in Melbourne australia?
    Your advise will be greatly appreciated.
    Kind Regards

  • Interesting thanks

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    Coming from central america, where inspiration is abundant, i will star from the material suppliers and the manufacturer our weak part of the process!

  • Dear Katie, Thank you for this article! Really helpful and motivating for an independent designer like me. I might be one of those small swimwear brands starting up overnight. As you mentioned is all about the big picture and I’m looking forward to define my brand, be coherent with my Colombian roots and style. I’d like to invite you to take a look at my work and I would really appreciate to hear your thoughts In your experience. Insta @alejaradi.swimwear http://www.alejaradi.com Regards, Aleja

  • Wonderful information!

    • Carlene Thomas Bailey

      So glad that you found it useful and informative, thanks Belinda!

  • Athena

    Looking for some tips, I am beginning my own lingerie brand.

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