DMU alumna and expert bra designer takes students behind the seams in New York

Contour Fashion students visiting New York spent a valuable morning learning about the lingerie industry from an expert bra designer and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) alumna.

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Head of design at Adore Me, Helen Mears, hosted the students at the label’s headquarters, sharing its journey from a humble start-up to a trusted favourite turning over millions of dollars each year.

With more than 30 years of industry experience under her belt since graduating from DMU’s world-renowned course in 1988, Helen has designed for big brands such as Marks & Spencer, Nap Inc, Victoria’s Secret and Wacoal.

Helen said: “I’ve always had a natural love of lingerie and studying at DMU helped me tremendously. Not only did it have - and still has - a great reputation within the industry, I was encouraged to specialise early on which helped me to establish a clear career path.” 

Students heard how keeping fitting in-house – across their impressive range of bra sizes from 30A to 46G - has led to a much-valued consistency in fit, earning Adore Me a loyal membership base. 

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With products spanning separates and lingerie sets, nightwear, leisurewear and swimwear, the brand releases a new collection each month averaging 60 products and planned around a year in advance. 

Its huge online popularity has seen Adore Me branch out to two brick and mortar stores across New York, one on Staten Island and one in New Jersey.

Helen said: “I just love working here, it’s my favourite job I’ve ever had. Working for a start-up is so exciting and rewarding, as what you put into it personally has a direct correlation.”

Student Holly Ellen Page said: “Visiting Adore Me was a fantastic opportunity to get insight into the overall running of a lingerie brand. We all learned a lot about what to expect from our future graduate jobs and how to prepare ourselves during our final year.”

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The 22-year-old from Brighton, who completed a year-long placement as a brand development assistant at Loveday London as part of her course, added: “It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between businesses within the same industry. 

“Having the chance to learn about the design and technical processes behind Adore Me products was really valuable and complemented the brand development focus of my placement.”

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Twenty six-year-old Korean student Bona Koo said: “I learned how the company takes an idea to a final product, which is always the hardest part of the process for me. It was also interesting to hear how their designs are often guided by the popularity of previous products. 

“As I hope to run my own lingerie company in the future, the visit was helpful in many ways.” 

Eline Piso, a 25-year-old student from the Netherlands, said: “My visit to New York has taught me so much, especially going to Adore Me. 

“We got to see behind the scenes of the company and they explained their whole process from start to finish. It was an experience that will help me towards my future career, as I’m familiar with more roles within a company now.”

Asked what her advice for budding designers is, Helen offered: “Networking is really important and do that internship. Always be nice, never burn bridges!”

Gillian Proctor, associate professor at DMU and subject leader for Contour Fashion, said: “Visits of this calibre are key for students soon to graduate. Having that ‘hands-on’ insight into a working brand, is invaluable. 

“In terms of utilising our international alumni, we are indebted to their generosity of time and knowledge. Contour Fashion graduates are blessed with having this incredibly supportive networking system and it is helping us to forge strong relationships globally.”

Posted on Wednesday 30th January 2019

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