Photo: Sayaka cutting some fabric at the Nisa workshop
Designing new styles that are flattering, functional and fun takes a lot of love and effort, and we go through a long process to make sure we’ve got it right! Luckily the team are total pros, and Elisha (Nisa's founder), Pam (our Production Manager) and Emily (our Marketing Manager and illustrator expert) work collaboratively to take a garment from the idea stage to a physical product sitting on the shelves waiting to be shipped off to our customers.
Here’s our process for developing a new bra style:
1) New idea: It always starts with a lightbulb moment about a cut or a silhouette that we are excited by. We're most often inspired by our customers and what they tell us they want to see next.
2) Design research: We make a moodboard for further inspiration
3) Sketches: Emily will do a few sketches of some of our favourite ideas, and then Pam, Emily and Elisha will sit down and decide which sketches we love (and which we don’t)
4) Pattern: Pam will make a pattern based on the sketch and any other specs we think are important and that our customers will want
5) Sample: Pam will then cut out a first sample and sew it up so we can see it ‘in the flesh’
6) Fit trial: Someone will bravely volunteer to be the fit model, and Pam, Emily and Elisha will look at how the garment sits on the body, see how it moves, and discuss any changes that need to be made
7) Second samples: Pam will alter the patterns and make a second sample with the changes agreed at the fit meeting. If a second fit meeting goes well, that’s the sampling process done! In reality though we might have a few more samples to get through till everyone is happy with the design.
8) Grading: Pam sends the pattern up to our cutters in Auckland and the pattern is graded into a range of different sizes.
9) Wear trial: If we’re designing a completely new style, we’ll do wear trials with some loyal customers to make sure that the garment is super comfy on a variety of different bodies and that it performs well out in the real world.
10) Cut: Once we’re happy with the wear trials, our Auckland cutters will cut our fabric in bulk for our first production run, which we then sew up at the Nisa workshop and do a big launch to promote it to our customers.
This process can take anywhere from one month at it's absolute speediest, to two years if it's an entirely new range (activewear, I'm looking at you).
There are so many highs and lows along the way, but that final fit meeting when we all stand around and admire Pam's handiwork and get excited about showing off the garments to our customers is definitely the highlight.