Written by Elisha, the founder of Nisa
When I started Nisa, I had no idea just how dang difficult it is to make a pair of underwear. My team and I put a huge amount of effort into making them just right, and as customer feedback has trickled in we have been able to tweak the design to make them something we are incredibly proud of.
I want our customers to know more about their undies, so I thought I’d write a little piece explaining the anatomy of a pair of our finest. In the beginning, I had to figure out all of this on my own. I had a background in law and no clue about the world of undies.
It took about half a year to finally find a manufacturer who made elastics that we loved. We now source our waistband elastic from Portugal. To get such good quality elastic, we go direct to source, which also means we have to put in massive minimum orders (we now are the proud owners of kilometres of elastic per colour).
The waistband elastic is thin and has a hell of a lot of stretch in it so it doesn’t dig in to the tummy.
Who knew the sewing a garment so that the two ends matched up within 1mm would be such a challenge? As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the garment, the harder it is to sew. Our production manager Averil has taught our employees all the tricks of the trade to make this happen.
We double up the fabric over the gusset area (the bit between the legs), as this zone tends to get the most worn out. I didn’t even know what a gusset was a year ago, so I’m glad to spread the joy and give you an extra, slightly useless word to increase your vocab.
The leg hole
One thing I realised through my earliest customer surveys was that women HATE visible panty lines. The easiest way to make underwear in a small bespoke workshop is to fold the elastic under the fabric because that way the elastic is hidden away and you don’t have to worry about matching the colour of the elastic to the colour of the underwear (which has subsequently become the bain of my life). However, that sounded MUCH too easy and also would result in the cardinal sin of a visible panty line due to the number of layers of fabric.
So, I spent about 6 months sourcing the perfect elastic which I don’t have to fold under, meaning that VPLs are a thing of the past. This elastic also comes from Portugal.
A lot of love has gone into each pair of our underwear. Some people wonder why they are relatively expensive in comparison to what you can buy at department stores. The answer is simply that we manufacture in New Zealand and pay our employees a fair wage, and the beautiful organic fabrics we use have a hefty price tag. The reasons why our undies cost more are also the reasons our customers love us.