The art of creating comfort with Miss Mary’s own bra expert
How difficult is it to create a bra? Few people know that better than Miss Mary’s pattern designer and designer Anne Nero, who for over 30 years has devoted herself to developing underwear with the perfect fit and comfort. Here she shares her experiences.
Anne Nero has worked in Miss Mary’s design department at our head office in Borås, Sweden, for nearly 10 years. In total, she has 30 years of experience creating bras and underwear. When it comes to complicated garments like bras, you can never have too much experience, as it’s only with time that you develop the instinctive feel required. Anne is one of three designers/pattern designer in the design department, which also consists of four test seamstresses. We popped off to the design department to exchange a few words with Anne about what it’s like to work as an underwear designer.
What’s most enjoyable about your job?
I think the most enjoyable thing is developing products and creating the best possible fit. It’s a time-consuming process and very detailed, which I love.
What did you do before you started working at Miss Mary?
I’ve worked with underwear for about 30 years. Before Miss Mary, I worked with other colleagues in the industry, 6 years as a director, 9 as a pattern designer and 7 as a sample seamstress.
The design team at Miss Mary. Pictured from left, Marie-Louise, Anne and Ing-Marie.
Here at Miss Mary you have a dual role, working as both a designer and pattern designer. For those who don’t know the difference between them, explain what the two jobs involve.
As a designer at Miss Mary, my job is to create attractive, functional and timeless underwear. You draw a bra with a certain style and cut. Sometimes you design the style and cut before you find a material you want to work with, and sometimes you find the material first and it inspires you to create a bra based on it. Choosing materials is fun because there are so many different types and appearances of lace and other underwear materials. We travel around a lot looking for fabrics, laces and materials from the best suppliers in the industry. Materials are a very important part of creating quality underwear.
The pattern designer’s role is then to create the best possible fit that suits the shape and materials of the design. It should fit elegantly and well on the body, and the construction should provide support and lift. Excellent comfort is a big part of Miss Mary’s identity, and it’s important that the garment feels good when worn.
Which part do you like best – design or pattern design?
It’s a difficult choice, but I’d probably say pattern design because it’s more challenging. It’s a great feeling when you’ve made customers happy by providing great fit and comfort.
“A few millimetres here or there on a pattern make a big difference to the fit.”
Anne in the course of her work as an underwear designer and pattern designer at Miss Mary
You have over 30 years of experience working with bras, what is it that makes bras interesting to work with specifically?
With bras you’re working with small margins that can make a big difference to the final product. A few millimetres here or there on a pattern make a big difference to the fit. I like doing the finishing touches that make a big difference in the end.
You have a fully equipped sewing room at the design department where you work alongside several test seamstresses, how important is that for your work?
It’s very important, and we work very closely with the test seamstresses. It’s nice to have the test sewing here so we don’t have to wait for the samples like we would if we sent them to Tallinn where our production is based. This way we see the results instantly, and we’re able to make lots of adjustments to create the best fit. We wouldn’t be able to manage without the sewing room here, or at least we’d need a lot more time, and we wouldn’t be able to maintain the high quality we do currently without the test seamstresses here.
You’re also skilled at sewing and have a background as a test seamstress, do those skills help you in your role as a pattern designer and designer?
Yes, it’s good experience to have. Even at the early stages of the process I can design and grade from the perspective of a test seamstress. I can understand what it’s possible to achieve in production. My knowledge of sewing also means that I’ve got insight into what’s possible in terms of product development.
What’s most difficult about creating bras and underwear?
There are always big challenges. Every product has different requirements and you need a lot of experience to ensure really good results. That’s what’s so enjoyable about this job. Even after all my years in the industry, I’m still learning new things. I’m naturally curious, and I’m always keen to test new cuts or use materials in new ways. It’s fun to challenge yourself and maintain your curiosity.
Which is the most fun to create – swimwear, bras, panties or bodies?
They’re all fun in their own way, but I definitely enjoy creating bras most. They’re the most complicated, with lots of fiddly and detailed work. Making swimwear is also fun for variety.
Miss Mary is known for comfort; how difficult is it to create a comfort bra?
We’ve always had high expectations of ourselves; we want to create a product that we can stand by. As women, we’ve all experienced our share of ill-fitting bras, and if you have a slightly larger bust it can be a real pain. I know exactly how it feels. To achieve a high level of comfort, I think it’s important to use the product yourself, and I don’t just mean a quick test in a fitting room but wearing it for the whole day. If you’re wearing the wrong size, even the most well-made bra will feel uncomfortable or cut in somewhere. That has to be the starting point when you’re buying a bra. We try to work with materials like cotton that feel good against the skin, cuts that feel comfortable, full cups, slightly wider sides and backs than you might be used to from cheaper brands and wide shoulder straps that will often be padded. Models with narrow shoulder straps are often made with slightly wider ones in larger cup sizes for example.
“Don’t blindly follow sizing charts, try different bras until you find one that feels good on you”
Anne in the bra studio in Borås, Sweden, with her favourite bra Smooth Lacy
What tips do you have for women who have difficulty finding the right bra?
Keep trying different bras until you find one that feels good, and don’t blindly follow sizing charts. Even if you wear a certain clothing size, we all look different. We all have different proportions, our breasts are positioned and shaped differently, our shoulders are different shapes, etc. That’s why there are so many different types of bras with so many different fits. We see from the women who come to the studio as test models that the same bra can look completely different on two different women, even when they’re wearing the same size.
Do you have a favourite material to work with?
There are many fun and interesting materials to work with, but my favourite is charmeuse. It’s a stiff but not completely rigid fabric that is somewhat elastic in one direction, which makes it an excellent material to work with. It gives comfortable support and a good fit. It also has a beautiful shine and gives garments a luxurious feel.
“My favourite material to work with is charmeuse”
Anne inspects lace samples from suppliers.
Which do you enjoy creating more, bras with moulded cups or bras with cups that have multiple panels and seams?
Cups with multiple panels; they present more challenges than moulded cups. You can manipulate and affect the fit to achieve the best results, which is especially important when you get up into larger cup sizes.
Which type of bra do you use personally?
An underwired T-shirt bra is what I most like to wear in private.
Do you use Miss Mary products yourself?
Absolutely. All the time. I always test all new models of bra. It’s important to try a bra for yourself to feel the comfort and fit and how it feels to wear for a whole day. I wear an F-cup and want good support and comfort. I’m my own customer, and I have high expectations of the garments I wear and create.
“I always test all new models of bra. It’s important to wear them for yourself to feel the comfort and fit.”
Anne’s personal favourite from Miss Mary’s collection is the T-shirt bra SMOOTH LACY with underwire.
Which is your favourite bra in Miss Mary’s collection?
I have a clear favourite, which I’ve worked on – SMOOTH LACY with underwire. I’m so unbelievably happy with it, and I’ve only heard good things about it. I wear it myself nearly all the time. It offers a wonderful shape and excellent support no matter who’s wearing it. It has unpadded cups in a stiff material, and the shape is perfectly round and provides excellent lift.
Another of Anne’s favourite models to work on is Floral Sun, designed by Lars Wallin.
Are there any particularly memorable products that you thought were very special to work on?
Creating the first Visionary collection, which was a design collaboration between Lars Wallin and Miss Mary, was really enjoyable and memorable. It was a fun challenge because the collection is very different from what we usually produce, both in terms of material choice and design. The end result was beautiful. Of all the products I’ve made patterns for but not designed myself, FLORAL SUN from that collection is one of my absolute favourites.
What advice do you have for someone who’s dream is to work as an underwear designer and pattern designer?
If you like to create items with both beauty and comfort that require precision and meticulousness, it might be a job for you. Pattern design for bras is not a job you can learn in the blink of an eye, but if you like to be challenged and you’re patient it’s the perfect experience to have and will help you in your day-to-day work.
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