Dishing On Sizing, Fit & Loungewear: An Interview With Lingerie Designer Layla L’obatti

Layla L’obatti is the talented designer behind Between The Sheets Lingerie, and once we met on Twitter, it was kismet, baby! So read on and find out the scoop about the lingerie designer, her fabulous lingerie, and the industry itself.

Layla, when did you begin designing lingerie?

In 2005 while I was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Do you have any special training?

I’m proud to say that I do! I attended FIT and it’s one of the few schools in the world with Intimate Apparel and Body Contours courses, I went above and beyond and took all the elective classes there were there. I can sew anything from leather to lace and have made everything from underwire bras, to petticoats, to a variety of corsets.

What did you do before you were a lingerie designer?

I was 18 or 19 when I started at FIT so this is all I’ve ever known or done, save for a two year period in high school where I volunteered at an animal shelter!

This one can be off the record, if you prefer, but I was wondering why you call the nighties etc. “loungewear.” Thanks to Icky Vicky and her “Pink” line (and those like her), “loungewear” brings to mind sweat pants, jersey, and cotton boyshorts – ugh.

Exactly for that reason I feel we should call our collection loungewear!

I do not like to think that all those pieces with large garish writing across the rear or excessive fluff in the way of appliques or ruffles to be the sole definition of loungewear, and I myself was dying for modern and sophisticated loungewear that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to open the door in.

For instance our “well played” loungwear is a seriously heavy weight, it hides imperfections in a way that the lighter weight fabrics you usually get do not, and a high elastic content that works almost like shapewear in our yoga pant. This means modesty, durability, and quality, and that is what I think we need, less excess and staple pieces that we can wear everyday in many different arenas of life.

The dreaded sizing issue… You offer XS, but not XL (or larger); why is that?

I know to someone not involved in manufacturing this may seem like a slight, but the main reason in not expanding our size range is because it is difficult as a small designer who is self financed to get off the ground with XS-L. The more sizes you carry mean more inventory, more fit requirements, more fabric requirements and all of this means a lot of money for sadly little return.

As a fit specialist I also feel strongly that if you are going to make an XL pattern should be made separately for XL and then sized up to 2x, 3x, and so on. The reason being that we sample a size Small (4/6) in BTS Collection, and then we grade or expand those patterns based on a formula for M and L, and reduce that pattern to an XS. However, we all know our bodies don’t grow in “formulas”. A contour that fits a woman at size S will rarely fit as it should when graded up to an XL, the jump from a S down to an XS is not as big.

An additional concern of mine is also that anything like a placket or a waistband that is say one width on a XS- L “looks right” and seems in proportion to the overall garment, but if you keep going up in size and that pattern piece stays fixed the proportions of the garment change, all of a sudden, something that was flattering on a smaller figure is no longer flattering.

In lieu of offering a poorly fitting XL I have chosen to hold off on manufacturing those sizes until we can afford to go even higher and truly fit and cater fully to that customer as she should be.

I could write a whole book on this, but instead I’ll point those who are interested to a couple of interesting web-articles. One I actually just recently saw, is a post by Kiss me Deadly that I thought did a really great job of explaining the many issues with production and being a small designer.

There is also a very informative post about this issue on a great manufacturing resource, the Fashion Incubator, as well.

I’d like to thank Layla for taking the time for this interview — but, as you’ll soon see, we’re not done talking yet!

Stay tuned for the exciting second part of the interview — which is focused on her vintage lingerie collection!

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