Making lingerie is no easy feat. We expect a lot out of our lingerie. It has to be supportive, comfortable, and attractive, and often for long periods of time. There are multiple factors that go into making a bra and panty set. The 3 main ones that we break down below are Materials, Labor, and Design.
The most obvious cost of lingerie is price of fabric. Silk and cotton are natural materials, so weather can play a huge role in pricing. If the weather is bad and cotton supply is reduced, or if you are using organic cotton ( 30% more costly than traditional cotton), it will cost the designer/manufacturer more to buy. However, it is unlikely that clothing brands will fluctuate their prices for consumers as much as their suppliers, so this fluctuation must be accounted for upfront so if you bought the same bra last year, you will pay the same price this year. The quality of certain silks and lace will also drive up the price. Silks, depending on quality, can cost anywhere from $500 per bolt to $2,000 per bolt.
Did you know there are sometimes over 80 components that can go into a single bra? Shoulder sliders, hooks, eyes, boning, cups, clasps and underwire are all things that hold our lingerie together, but aren't something we think about as individual items. Each item either has to be sourced or made by the designer, and these also vary in quality as well. A typical suspender belt has about 30 pieces of hardware where a bra will have anywhere from 20-40. Metal fasteners are going to be more pricey than plastic ones. Elastic is also something that can add up quickly. Softer material elastic can add up to be $2-3 dollars a yard. Obviously the more detail you add to a piece of lingerie, the more exciting it is but also more expensive. Sequins, appliqué, glitter and custom prints are all things that make a price go up.
Labor is probably the most costly part of producing lingerie. Time, intricacies and technicality are all important aspects that we may not think about. All lingerie is made by hand, so whether you are paying $20 or $200 for something a person or group of people made it. The parts of bras are so tiny and intricate that they are sewn on by a sewing machine or by hand. Applying the elastic, cutting and sewing each item and sewing on all the metal components, all require a high degree of technical skill. And since there could be anywhere from 40-80 parts in each piece, it takes quite some time to finish each garment.
Some bras will be fine on someone who is a 32B but that same bra may not work on someone who is a 38E. Many times, lingerie companies will specialize in certain size ranges or styles. The shape, weight, and placement of a heavier or larger bust are different from a lighter or smaller bust. These differences require new designs, new patterns, and new materials, sometimes taking years to perfect. This is why so many lingerie companies specialize - it reduces the resources required for production when you are producing say, 10 sizes rather than 100. The people who work on you undergarments are experts in their field and they’re highly technical people. They draft patterns, scale sizes (jeans will go up to 6 to 7 sizes, but bras could come in as many as 30 different sizes!) and fit test each pattern on live models.
Bordelle uses custom hardware on their bondage like pieces. The hardware is embossed with their logo, and dipped in 24K gold. Their design has these gold dipped beauties paired with their signature elastic straps, so the look is 100% customizable. Their embroidery is also done by hand.
Paloma Casile The pattern and the sizing are hand made in her atelier in Paris.
Each design revolves around luxury fabric - Calais lace, French embroidery, guipure, silks of Lyon - which she combines with graphics and unexpected cuts, elastics worked as accessories and metallic fasteners placed like jewels. Each piece is designed and developed in Paris and manufactured in France with precision. She creates the pattern and the prototype.
These are just two examples of how our brands employ the absolute highest quality elements of luxury lingerie. We are proud to support these independent designers, who are themselves small businesses and in turn support artisanal small business owners around the world throughout their supply chain.