Our recent series ‘The Final Collection’ gave would-be lingerie designers a pretty good idea of the workload faced by students in college design programs.
But what comes next? How do you make the leap from school to launching your own lingerie brand? And is it even possible to become a designer without formal school-based training?
Shockingly, there are few resources available to help aspiring designers answer those questions — until now.
How To Become A Lingerie Designer is the first book from an industry insider to offer a basics-level guide to entering this complex and often-risky profession.
Packed with resources, technical explanations and industry contact info, HTBALD is destined to become a must-read for wannabe designers and a first step on the path toward your new career. The book was just released as a Kindle download on Amazon for $9.99 (US), with a print version coming to market soon.
Author Laurie van Jonsson (right) draws on her 12 years in the industry, including a short-lived effort to run her own lingerie label Vanjo.
Van Jonsson, who graduated from De Montfort University’s fashion and textiles program in 2000, currently works as a senior designer in Australia and has lectured on lingerie design and worked for several leading UK brands over the years.
“One of the reasons I wrote the book was because of how little information there is out there,” she said. “And when I ran my label, the amount of people that contacted me for advice was unreal.”
How To Become A Lingerie Designer attempts to overcome one of the most persistent barriers faced by newcomers trying to enter the industry — the reluctance of people working in the business to share information on such things as fabric sourcing, costing and accessing buyers.
Organized into 18 chapters, the book offers a soup-to-nuts rundown of the basics of getting into lingerie as a career.
The best part is left till the end: detailed interviews with eight established designers who offer insights into their own backgrounds and the learning curve they experienced as their careers unfolded. But be warned, not all the advice is uplifting. As Igor Pacemski of the UK luxury fashion brand Yes Master points out: “Imagine being poor, tired, hungry, downtrodden and down in the dumps … and multiply tenfold. That is what awaits you in the first 2-3 years. On the plus side, if you survive that, great things await!”
Early sections of the book explore the use of sketch books and mood boards in helping designers achieve their brand signatures, before turning to technical drawings, pattern books and the use of computerized pattern design.
In addition, readers get an introduction to market analysis, trend reports, spec sheets, grading, sampling, costing, wholesale policies and much more. There’s even a marketing and promotions section that includes, among other things, advice on how to get business cards!
Along the way, Van Jonsson offers valuable tips that only an experienced insider could provide. Examples: “Never make your target market about price point”; and “Treat [your sketchbook] like a brainstorming session — nothing has to make sense, nothing has to be neat and nothing has to be finished.”
How To Become A Lingerie Designer is invaluable to anyone dreaming of such a career but without any concrete understanding of the business. People who know the industry, however, will spot a few weaknesses and omissions in Van Jonsson’s outline.
The book’s discussion of topics such as design copyright and offshore manufacturing is weak, and there’s little detailed information about what school programs are available that could lead to a lingerie design career. HTBALD would also benefit from a look at how the rapid evolution of online e-commerce is creating new opportunities for independents; a description of how industry buyers identify different market segments; and a much fuller catalogue of information resources.
But those are quibbles about an otherwise much-needed reference guide. And, given the advantages of online self-publishing, we’re hoping Van Jonsson will update and expand How To Become A Lingerie Designer regularly. (The book also has a website, where the author will answer individual questions submitted by readers.)
Starting a career in lingerie design is difficult and the obstacles can, at the outset, seem impossibly daunting. But Van Jonsson reminds her readers of the best single piece of advice she ever received (print this out and stick on your wall!):
“If you want to do something, just start. Don’t wait until you’re 100% ready … the moment will have passed. Just start.”