Unveiling Elegance: The Essence of Custom Lingerie and Intimate Apparel

In recent years, we’ve noticed a distinct trend here at TEG: a renewed interest in the development and production of lingerie and intimate apparel. To be honest, we’re not surprised. If developed and produced correctly, it can be a very rewarding – not to mention, lucrative – clothing category.

That said, it’s not an easy category to master. As a consumer yourself, you know there’s a way to do it right, and there’s definitely a way to do it wrong.

Our goal here is to make sure you’re as successful as you can be with your custom lingerie and intimate apparel brand. This article is all about how to make sure that’s the case.

What Does Your Customer Want, Underneath It All?

In one way, starting an intimate apparel brand is no different than any other category. The first  – and most important – thing to do is identify your market niche and then determine what is missing in that niche. Market research and strategy is, as always, job one.

Here’s a bit of info to give you a headstart. Business Wire says, “The intimates market is poised to grow by $57.34 bn during 2022-2026, accelerating at a CAGR of 8% during the forecast period. The rising trend of athleisure in the intimate apparel industry is one of the prime reasons driving the intimate apparel market growth during the next few years.”

Research suggests that, by product category, the lower innerwear segment (we’re talking undies here) will show significant growth during the forecast period. New sustainable fabrics and innovations in the actual garments themselves account for the projected growth.

Case in point, in January 2022, Modibodi announced the launch of the world’s first biodegradable period and pee-proof underwear for women. This is an excellent example of a brand that identified a consumer need, went out and did its fabric research, and innovated the perfect solution.

This goes to show that there’s a lot of room in the market for a new intimate brand. The question is, of course, how to make your brand catch the consumer’s attention and wallet in a crowded marketplace. The answer here is actually quite simple. Just ask your potential consumer some pointed questions:

  • Where do you shop?
  • What do you like the most about the brands you already buy?
  • What do you like the least?
  • What do you wish you could find in the marketplace?

Allow yourself to get even more creative with your questions. People love to share their opinions, so this very human trait will work to your advantage here.

While talking to people face-to-face is very important, you can add to your research by talking to people digitally. There are two main ways to find the target customers for your clothing brand. Online through your email list, and the other of course, is through social media.

Pro Tip #1 from Jennifer: Try doing your informal market research via a group text among your target customer friends. People’s opinions tend to spur ideation in others. And, it’ll be fun, as well!

When trying to perfect your product offering, one tried-and-true trick is to “niche down.” You can’t be all things to all people, so don’t even try. It might seem counter-intuitive, but narrowing down your target market doesn’t limit your sales. The opposite is true. It actually helps your target consumer FIND you.

Don’t worry, this is something you can do at any time, even if you’ve been selling for a while. It never hurts to learn more about your customer and tweak your collection accordingly.

Choosing Fabrics and Finery For Personalized Lingerie

If there’s a category that needs more attention paid to fabrics and trims than intimate apparel, we can’t think of one. Every part of the garment touches sensitive skin, so you’ve got a challenge ahead of you. What’s more, the fabric must be durable enough to stand up to multiple washings as well.

Once you’ve designed the styles in your collection – whether it’s a full coverage bra, a lightweight bralette, a comfy nightgown, or even a g-string – consider the following before making your final decision on the fabrics and trims.

    • Stretch, or No Stretch. Study your designs carefully and determine if they require stretch, and if so, how much. If your pattern requires any stretch at all, your pattern maker should make this clear to you. They will also tell you whether you need a one-way stretch, which usually runs crosswise from selvage to selvage, or a two-way stretch, which runs both lengthwise and crosswise.
    • Weight and Thickness. The last thing a customer wants is bulky underwear. So the weight of your fabric should be a major consideration. Also, pay attention to the thickness of the fabric as well.  Consider how thick the seams will become when sewn up.
    • Look and Feel. This is where a creative personalized lingerie designer can have some fun. The fabric choices for custom lingerie are quite extensive, and far beyond what you might imagine. From the finest French lace to soft, sustainable cotton, there’s a dizzying array of options at your disposal.
      • First, take a look at the fibers you want to use, then decide if you want the fabric to be woven or knit. It may seem obvious, but the type of fabric you choose can completely change the look of any garment. Imagine a basic chemise, for example. It’s going to look completely different in a shiny stretch silk charmeuse with accents of French lace than it will in a waffle weave cotton jersey.
      • Let’s not forget how the fabric feels (by the way, this is called “the hand” of the fabric). Fabrics with a rough or irritating hand will prove themselves a much bigger nuisance when rubbing against skin all day. Test it yourself by touching the fabric to a sensitive area of your face or neck. Don’t trust your hands to determine the softness of a fabric, chances are they’re less sensitive than other areas of your body.
    • Tags and Labels. As we said earlier, every part of the garment touches sensitive skin. Keep this in mind when choosing the materials for your labels and care tags.

Custom Lingerie is All About Fit

 

personalized-lingerie

It probably goes without saying that fit is everything for undergarments. You most likely know from your own experience that ill-fitting lingerie, sleepwear, activewear or undies are a nightmare. Definitely something you’ll want to avoid with your fledgling brand.

Therefore we cannot emphasize this next point enough: do NOT trust your collection to an inexperienced pattern maker. Let that sink in for a moment.

Fit is pivotal, and a master pattern maker experienced with personalized lingerie and undergarments has learned many lessons – often the hard way. Which means they won’t be learning these lessons at the sake of your collection.

At the initial intake meeting with your pattern maker here at TEG, we encourage our designers to discuss (and show) some representative fit samples. Maybe you purchased them in the marketplace, or maybe they’re from your own wardrobe. Either way, nothing explains your desired fit better than an actual physical sample.

Pro Tip #2 from Jennifer: After your first samples are sewn, prepare yourself for some lengthy and numerous fit sessions. At TEG, all intimate development projects have two, or sometimes, three fit adjustments to perfect the pattern. It’s important!

Some Real World Testing

Before you launch your intimate apparel collection, test your final samples in the real world. Wear them yourself, or invite family and friends to give them a try. Listen to their feedback with an open mind. If you find you have to do some tweaking, it’s better to do so now than after you’ve produced hundreds of units.

Speaking of production, it’s vitally important to partner with a factory that’s experienced in the intimate apparel category as well. While the garments themselves are small, intimate apparel requires many complicated sewing procedures and finishing techniques to achieve stellar results.

The world of intimate apparel offers many options and opportunities. Maybe this article has ignited your desire to try your hand at this unique clothing segment. We’d love to hear what you’re thinking. So please reach out to us anytime or just give us a call at 800-916-0910.

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