Members of the Independent Lingerie Professionals group living in the Chicago area gathered together for an Intimate Affair on Monday evening, December 5, 2011. The event was hosted by Stephanie Kuhr of Dottie’s Delights. Bra La Mode was unable to attend the Intimate Affair (although I really did consider making the cross-country trip in the name of “lingerie love”!) But lucky for us, the fabulous Norma Loehr of Orange Lingerie offered to share the experience (and some great pictures) with Bra La Mode readers. Thanks, Norma!
The Dottie's Delights Studio, Chicago
Who knew there were so many lingerie companies in the Chicago area? Being new to the area, I certainly had no idea. Luckily I found Stephanie Kuhr of Dottie’s Delights. As a 2010 designer in residence at the Chicago Fashion Incubator, she is plugged in to the local lingerie scene and graciously hosted us all in her studio earlier this week.
Designers Norma Loehr and Stephanie Kuhr
The goal of the get-together was to meet everyone and learn about what they are working on. As it turns out, we all take a different approach to our respective lingerie businesses and have our own unique style so our gathering was very collaborative. It was great to be in a room surrounded by people who speak “lingerie” and, like me, think nothing of whipping out a lingerie set in a meeting at the local Starbucks!
So, who are the lingerie professionals in the Chicago area? On the designer side, there were five of us at the Intimate Affair:
Dottie’s Delights which specializes in vintage-inspired shapewear and foundations.
Evlove run by Jenny Dombroski lets you design your lingerie on their website or at an Evlove lingerie party.
Naughty4Nice is a line in development by Maggie and Matt. They plan to use organic fabrics and donate a portion of their profits to charities that benefit women. Note that they are still looking for charities to work with!
Orange Lingerie is a company I started to make custom tailored bras and lingerie for individual clients in Chicago and New York.
Urban Fox is the work of Lizzie Cook. Each piece from her line is dyed and sewn by hand from machine-processed bamboo and organic cotton blends in the U.S.
Daniel, Denise and Matt
On the blogger front we were joined by Sarah of StackDD+, a blog with researched reviews, tips, and clothing ideas to support the DD+ woman. Daniel from Directory Sexy, the go-to resource on the web for all things lingerie, made the trip to Chicago to show us the new features he is adding to the site in the first part of 2012.
There were also some newer lingerie entrants at the party. Denise of Sinsational Nights, a company that puts together in-home lingerie parties was at the event and Lena from her as yet unnamed company which is working on a sports bra for larger breasted women.
It was fun to see samples from other designers. I enjoyed talking to Stephanie of Dottie’s Delights about bra construction and fitting. I also loved seeing her work close-up to really appreciate her use of vintage stitches. I also got the chance to feel the eco friendly fabrics that Lizzie uses for Urban Fox. I really like the trim she uses on her pieces too. It is made of mostly organic linen with some spandex.
Lizzie and Lena
Lena brought sketches for the sports bra she is working on. Sarah of Stack DD+ was very helpful in offering her perspective on Lena’s designs. She knows a lot about fitting DD+ cups and what is currently available in the marketplace, so she is a great resource for feedback on new bra ideas. Happily, I discovered she is on the hunt for a strapless bra as well as a plunge bra. Of course I can make custom fit versions of both for her so I gathered details about exactly what she is looking for. Yes, it is possible for DD+ to have pretty and supportive versions of both!
Daniel shared the enhancements he is making to Directory Sexy in early 2012 and since I don’t want to spoil his thunder, I won’t say too much here other than he is adding flexibility via editing features for those in the directory as well as incorporating some very interesting social networking elements. It was great to get a sneak peek of the new features so we can start thinking about how they may impact our listings in the directory.
Lena and Sarah
Throughout the evening a few themes emerged. All designers have faced the difficulty of finding good patternmakers for lingerie and finding sewing contractors willing to sew bras. In fact, several of us currently handle the production of our own product to get around this problem. Of course, the day is approaching for each of us where it will be necessary to have help producing our garments. This is one of the areas we can help each other the most – sharing our experiences with contractors and other resources.
Another theme was our belief that production in the USA (and preferably locally in Chicago) is important to our respective businesses. Admittedly, we may be biased on this point either by the size of our business or by our independent spirit!
We plan to continue getting together regularly to share ideas. Perhaps we will invite boutiques so they can meet the designers in person and have a more personal story to tell about the garments in their stores. And, we can hear more from them on what their clients are looking for in our lingerie!