While at the Lane Bryant blogger conference*, we met many of the VP's of various functions within the company, including Robert Rutkauskas (Sr. Designer - Trend, Color, Fabric & CAD), David Albow (Sr. Design Director - Sportswear) and Gill Heer (Sr. Designer/Director - Intimate Apparel). Each of the three Sr. Designers spent time with us, explaining the process for creating a new collection.
A shot of the Easton, OH store - which Lane Bryant considers it's "home" store. It was gleaming, gorgeous and packed full of the latest clothes and accessories!
Kimberly Brinkman (Fab Finds Under $50) and I were treated to a walk through of the Easton store with Robert. He explained his initial concept for the spring/summer collection (jungle safari), which he and his team came up with over a year ago! The clothing design/creation process works about 10-12 months in advance. The process includes numerous trips to Paris and Italy, which is where designers converge to review and predict upcoming trends in color, fabric and prints.
This is Robert Rutkauskas. He was incredibly dapper, right down to his Hermes belt.
This explains why we see common themes and concepts across many different stores - they're all working along the same time lines and with similar resources. The craft is in differentiating a common theme and making it fit each retailer's customer.
And that's exactly what David Albow does: he takes Robert's initial vision and thoughts around colors and patterns - then turns them into clothes that are right for the Lane Bryant woman. Robert also told us about the way Lane Bryant evolves their collections from one to another, so the pieces we buy this month will compliment what comes out next month and the month after. Look for June's safari/jungle theme to evolve into an interpretation of sandy/desert come July!
The design process is similar for Gill Heer on the Cacique line. Working months in advance, Gill sources inspiration from the fashion runways of Paris, Milan and London. She guides her team at Lane Bryant to create beautiful pieces that are of-the-moment across the line, ranging from cozy sleepwear to sexy bra & panty combos.
The design team gave us a sneak peek into the upcoming Fall & Holiday collections (no cameras allowed!). Here's what we have to look forward to:
Core Collection -
Color Palette & Fabric: Jewel tones of purple, rose, green and dark denim. Mixed patterns of plaid & houndstooth. Knits abound, including cozy sweaters.
Concept: Sophisticated, Powerful Ladies like Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna (yep, she fits in!) and Jackie O. Concept is realized with strong lines (such as a structured jacket) and ladylike details.
My Favorite Pieces: A gorgeous black leather jacket that will look great with jeans and a casual tee, or over a more feminine dress and heels. A new addition to the Supima cotton tee shirt collection - in deep purple, the T-shaped cut blends the best of both worlds: style and comfort.
Color Palette & Fabric: Vibrant jewel tones; black & white with a bright accent color; tone-on-tone pinks
Concept: The Evolution of the Holiday Season. November brings a collection of pieces perfect for adding a little extra festivity underneath your party-wear. This includes sensual satin and lots of lace. Early December, the lingerie takes a more comfy/cozy approach with lots of fleece, soft cotton, and LB's signature novelty prints in panties, bras and sleepwear. January means lots of sexy pieces perfect for Valentine's Day; this year's collection feels inspired by Moulin Rouge. Ooo la!
My Favorite Pieces: A cozy fleece robe with a cute ruffle accent. The most gorgeous Valentine's Day nightie featuring a pale pink & black bustle. So pretty!
Meeting the designers and their creative teams was one of the trip's highlights. I can't tell you how surreal it was to come face-to-face with the people who created many of my favorite articles of clothing. David even complimented me on the way I'd styled "his" dress! The passion & enthusiasm that the design team has for creating clothes that they think we'll love and will look good on us was evident (and kind of infectious!)
* Lane Bryant paid for all expenses related to this trip, including but not limited to travel, accomodations and a complimentary outfit.