Interview featured in Nylonzine Magazine October 2017
Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of an independent, UK made, lingerie brand? We're spoken to Pippa to see how it all started for her...
How long have you been in the lingerie business?
Quite a long time! I did my degree in Fashion and Contour Design, then worked as a garment technologist AND production planner/buyer at a well know luxury lingerie brand. I worked there for a few years and that really set me up with the huge range of diverse skills I needed to start my own brand. Not just the technical lingerie design of things but also the business side of running of a fashion brand. I’ve been running Pip & Pantalaimon for two and a half years, so that makes about 9 years in the lingerie business, yikes!
What made you decide to start with vintage retro lingerie?
At the time, nobody was selling Y strap suspender belts, the ones that split to hold two suspender clips at the end. That was my niche and the first suspender belts definitely got customers attention. Now, a few other brands seem to have followed suit and we’ve gone on to develop our range beyond this to offer all sorts of vintage and retro inspired shapewear, not just the Y straps
You do a lot of shape wear, is this an area of the business you think is growing?
Yes and no, it’s a tough one because I don’t necessarily think we should be ‘shaping’ our bodies , but rather ‘enhancing’ our existing curves to feel more powerful and fabulous. I certainly think ‘enhancing wear’ is a growing area of the market as everywhere I look I’m seeing fantastic women, who might not meet the medias outdated expectations of beauty, showing off their bodies and promoting body confidence.
Do you have any plans to increase your range?
Constantly! We decided before we’d even began that we weren’t going to be conforming to the fashion worlds expectations of seasonal collections and I’m seeing more and more other brands take the same decision. It’s too labour intensive to knock out another 30 styles every 6 months. Inevitable the results of such appear rushed and ill thought out. Alternatively, we take our time designing without any time pressures, often designing around a particular new fabric that we’ve ordered. We buy the fabric before deciding what to use it for, I think that’s quite common with smaller brand. We will usually buy all the supplier has and it may sit on the shelf for months before we decide what to do with it. We like to think the results are intelligently designed, while also being very technically engineered. We add our own unique twist onto our ‘classic’ designs. For example our classic soft bra fastens at the back as you would expect a normal bra to, but it also featured two working metal hooks at the front so the bra can also open at the front too! A unique twist for the customer, and a useful design solution for us.
We had one particular fabric, a pinky floral print powernet, and it wasn’t until I’d nearly finished sewing the first sample that I realised it had a fabulous Flamingo print hidden within the floral print, I don’t know how we missed it up until that point!
We see your UK based, does this mean your products are produced in the UK?
That’s right, we actually make absolutely everything in house in our cosy work room/studio somewhere between Oxford and Northampton. This means we can keep a very close eye on quality and can guarantee fair working conditions for everyone we work with. So if you’re looking for ethical lingerie for your capsule wardrobe, or just want to support UK made fashion, I hope we offer something for you.
Do you have a large team?
Pip & Pantalaimon is currently run by a tiny team of just two! We do everything from driving to Dartford to collect 10,000m of black strapping elastic from the docks, to sewing your knickers and standing in line at the post office! Although watch this space as we will be looking to expand later next year.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your lingerie?
I’m not sure really, I’d have to say everywhere. Our style is bold and bright, a bit of a fusion between photos of true vintage pin up icons and genuine vintage lingerie, as well as the lifestyles of modern retro and vintage enthusiasts. Inspiration usually strikes at the sewing machine. Because of the way we’re set up, we hold plenty of sewing supplies in stock, a design can go from idea to initial sample in just a couple of hours. We’re often inspired by a fabric that we just had a to buy and the fabric often doesn’t a lot of the hard work for us.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
We believe our lingerie should be available to everyone, that’s why we are so proud to offer our wide size range. Every single style is available in UK sizes 8-22 (That’s US 4-18) and bra sizes 32-38, B-G in selected underbands.
Oh and what is your best selling product? And why do you think it is?
It changes all the time and things go in wierd waves, but at the moment it’s probably the black girdlette. It’s really popular because it has a strong waist band elastic, controlling front panel, mesh side panel and 6 top quality steel suspender clips. It fastens at the back with a hook and eye down the whole length of the garment. I think its popular as its quite simply, it’s not too fiddly and there aren’t a load of straps so it’s a good entry level item for someone that’s new to vintage lingerie and wearing stockings. Oh and its strong elastic waistband does amazing things for enhancing your waist!