As Dita Von Teese said “Lingerie is not about seducing men; it’s about embracing womanhood” and we know (at least) one person who couldn’t agree more…
This person knows the inside of your underwear drawer better than you do; studies the female form in all its naked glory for a living, could tell you your bust size with just one glance, and can recommend the perfect knickers for any occasion (yes, even that one)…
And, more concretely, she’s the lead designer on Heist’s upcoming underwear line.
Jess joined Heist after her final degree collection, a futuristic capsule of 3D printed silicone lingerie, caught the attention of UK media titles and Heist’s CEO. And, just weeks before our first underwear line drops, we wanted to go behind the scenes and find out why she’s SO obsessed with our underwear, get her advice on navigating the dreaded sizing conundrum and discuss what it’s like innovating for a modern woman…
Question 1: Why underwear? What makes you so passionate about women’s ‘intimates’?
I’ve always been fascinated by the element of fantasy attached to lingerie - the intimacy and romanticism of it, as well as the history of underwear; it’s reflection of societal values and ideals throughout the eras and how this has evolved over time. I love that I’m designing underwear during an era of such body positivity, diversity and acceptance - it’s a very exciting time to innovate.
Question 2: How do people react when you tell them you design underwear?
Oh, it’s a crowd pleaser… At the core of what I do is design garments for naked bodies, that will always stimulate conversation! Most often, women open up to me about their struggles with sizing (a common issue) and buying underwear, which is a great insight for me. It’s funny, but I find I learn as much from these really open and emotive conversations as I do from complex and rigorous fit sessions.
Question 3: Size is a common issue and divisive subject in our industry. As both a designer and a consumer, what is your view?
There is still so much stigma attached to sizing. For a woman, there will always be that emotional connection with size. The most important thing is to identify the shape of your body, what feels right and learn what works for you – remember, ‘the size’ it’s just a number. A lot of women tend to wear the wrong size, because they believe they are the same size they were 1 year or 10 years ago! A woman's body is in a constant state of flux (always evolving - forever incredible!). It seems obvious but if it feels uncomfortable or too tight or too loose, then you’re wearing the wrong size. A good fitting item of underwear shouldn’t hurt you or make you pull it up constantly - it should sit, almost unnoticed, and quietly support you throughout the day.
Question 4 - Of all the underwear brands, why Heist?
What drew me to Heist is that they operate differently to other brands. At Heist, we're saying you can wear whatever underwear you want to, without judgement, and here's the best, most innovative version of that garment out there. I am passionate about innovation, that is at the heart of Heist – to create the world’s most liberating underwear. I couldn’t not be involved.
Question 5: Underwear myth to debunk?
Fit assistants in stores aren’t always right. Listen to your body! Only you know what you feel comfortable in.
Question 6: What do you want women to feel when they wear the underwear you designed?
Liberated - that is what underwear should do! We believe it should make you feel free to do whatever you want. It is a powerful foundation layer - what you do in it is not up to us, we just want you to feel liberated while you do it.
Question 7: What is the hardest part of trying to innovate in such a forgotten category?
Our design philosophy when it comes to product development at Heist is this concept of ‘trilogy’ – look, feel, perform. That is no small feat! There is a reason why underwear is either sexy, supportive OR comfortable. Designing underwear that does one of those things is easy, designing garments that do all three is smashing it. That’s why it takes time to truly innovate and why we work hand-in-hand with our community as we go. We are creating from scratch – that’s hard, but so necessary.
Question 8: You mention working hand-in-hand with the Heist community, what’s it like bringing customers into the design process?
Earlier this year, we set up CO.LAB.12 - an initiative that invited the Heist community to work with our innovation team (Lab12) on our first underwear line. It taught me a lot. Nothing can replicate 150 different people trying a product and sharing how it makes them feel. With their feedback, we pushed the product further on every level - look, feel, perform. Their insights were incredibly valuable, I’m so grateful to our community for signing up in their thousands to be a part of the process. It reinforced my understanding that literally every woman is unique - that is part of the challenge, and also the appeal.
Question 9: Any details you can give on the new underwear collection?
I cannot WAIT for this to launch. We have been working on the line for a long time, with extraordinary women. It’s incredibly exciting. The collection encompasses our trilogy ethos – it looks beautiful, feels comfortable and truly performs. It is designed to cater for age, shape, size, and skin tone. We spent hours (days, weeks, months!) doing fittings across an entire spectrum of women, and have used their feedback throughout our design process. We’ve taken inspiration from all over, including our existing products. The result is phenomenal styles that cater to all body shapes. Can you tell I’m excited?!
Question 10: Finally, if you could create one magical piece of underwear, what would it be?
A bra that truly performs… watch this space (can I say that?!)
If you (like me) are in desperate need of some underwear advice or you’re just curious about Jess’s creative process, email our Customer Collective team (firstname.lastname@example.org) - they will pass your message on to Jess who will get in touch.