“Dear I A Samples, I don’t have anyone to fit our samples. How do I choose a house model?”
You have completed your designs and have found an expert lingerie pattern cutter and fantastic seamstress. Everything is ready to develop your intimate apparel collection, except one thing, some one to try the lingerie or swimwear on!
Fitting the samples is a crucial part of the process and I don’t care what any other garment tech says, using a mannequin to gauge critical fit feedback just won’t suffice! What we want is a live, walking, talking human being that is representative of your target customer.
Unfortunately finding a model that is truly representative of your brand isn’t always easy. All men and women are different shapes and sizes and rarely symmetrical.
Firstly you need to pin point exactly who your customer is and the fit and shape of your brand. This should have been done prior to developing the prototypes. More on that here.
Once you have established that information, there are various model agencies such as Fittings Division who supply models for fittings. Be careful however, to ensure that the models specifications are true to their V card before using them for a fit assessment.
Alternatively you can scout out friends, family or even yourself to find your ideal candidate. Assuming you don’t intend to only cater to svelt, long legged supermodels, it is perfectly ok to use an associate who hasn’t graduated from modelling college!
Now, once you have found your potential model, you need to confirm that they meet your requirements.
On the assumption that you are not a garment technician, we will give you the cheat version of how to ensure they have good potential to be your house model.
Buy in some garments which best represent the fit and shape you wish to achieve in your collection. Fit these pieces on your model, it is best to try a few different styles to get a really good understanding of the wearer and look out for any visible clues on fit issues that may occur.
Does the model fit the sample size well? Is the bra under-wire sitting comfortably around the breast root whilst the underband goes horizontally across the back? Do the breasts sit fully into the cups without any spillage or wrinkling? There are lots of fit guides online if you are unsure of how to correctly fit a garment. You will need to get really savvy with fitting models so it is worth reading up on how to do this properly. There are even short courses on fitting lingerie and swimwear at places such as De Montfort University, which may be a worthwhile investment of time and money.
Once a model has been approved, it is time to bring them in for a fit assessment.
At this point your garment technician, who will be undertaking the fittings, will assess the model and take some detailed measurements to enable them to really understand their body shape.
The measurements we take are far more thorough than those taken for a general fitting in a retail shop. Where bras are concerned we will assess each breast separately along with the back, underbust, and overbust. The breast root shape will also be gauged to ensure the model is suitable for the chosen wire shape. Height and body raise will also be considered depending on the garment.
Many factors can determine the difference in body shape and make up within the same size category, such as lifestyle, age, hormones, genetics ethnic background and elasticity of the skin.
Your fit expert will take these details into account.
We often get asked what size to sample in. Typically, the standard sample size for core size lingerie is 34B and size 12. This was the average size of the general public in the 1960s and it made sense to sample in this size and gauge the common fit.
In the more recent years, however, 36D is the average.
Although it no longer makes sense to sample in 34B many still do. I suppose it takes a long time to change even a small element of a big industry.
A sample size for plus size bras tend to be 34F or G.
Remember, your house model will need to be called upon for the duration of the sample development, and ideally for your future collections too. So ensure that they are committed and reliable.
I hope this article has been helpful. There are many more blogs I intend to write, as I know how mind-boggling the fashion industry can be for those who first enter it.
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All the best,