Ava 2.0 Development
04 March 20
On the 12th of March, 2020 we’ll be launching the Ava Bra 2.0 in sizes 26A - 36GG. This is something that we’ve been working on behind the scenes for a while now. We’re super proud of the new products, and we’re so excited that they’re finally out for our customers to enjoy!
All of the bras and underwear we sell are designed, sampled and manufactured here at Lara HQ in London. Developing the Ava Bra has been such a journey for us, and we want to share with you all the hard work our team has put in.
Shortly after launching the Ava Bra, we found the bra was running small. We noticed this initially with customer queries. In bra fitting appointments, we found that nearly everyone sized up one bra cup size in this style. This solution to size up was fine as a temporary measure, but it certainly was not up to our fit and quality standard as a company. Customers in the biggest bra cup sizes were sometimes unable to enjoy the Ava Bra, which is completely opposite to what we hope to achieve as an inclusive lingerie business. And so began the long (long, long!) journey to developing the Ava Bra 2.0.
Never ones to do things in half measures, we went right back to the start and decided to change our bra sizing system - click here to read about our new bra sizing. The initial ‘prototype’ of the Ava was in summer 2019. We decided to play around with the lift that the straps provided to see if this would improve the support of the bra- which it did! We removed the gold ring at the bra apex in favour of a strong bartack stitch. This design development has stayed with us to the final bra design which you can shop for now.
Zoe wears a 28F in usual Lara sizing. This is a 28G in the ‘old’ Ava.
This is a 28G, so still a size up to what Zoe should wear, but it was clear at this point that bartacking the straps rather than using a ring made a huge difference and helped massively in terms of support.
The end of last year was a great opportunity to try out different fabrics and techniques that we’d never tried before to get an idea of what worked and what the bra needed to be the best it could be. This was definitely an experimental stage and has been a great learning curve - we’ve taken things from it that we will apply in all future product design.
At the beginning of November, we began working with a pattern cutter who has an extensive background in lingerie design and grading. Her knowledge has been invaluable to the development of the Ava and we’re looking forward to continue working with her on our other designs! Working with our pattern cutter really put the pedal on the process, and each week saw a new sample and brought the Ava 2.0 light closer.
It was working with our pattern cutter that led us to the decision to add a seam and sling in the cup to help with projection, and we begun to add this just before Christmas.
In team Lara, we have a variation of sizes and so were able to test every bra on at least a 28C, 28F or 30F and a 34G. The more designs we fit test, it became apparent that the structure in the some sizes weren’t going to work in others. It’s super important to us to be able to offer designs in all sizes that don’t comprise on design when we get to the bigger cups. We’ve divided our size range to more manageable sections that allow us to work on the structure that works best for each size.
In January, we’d pretty much perfected the fit of the bra, and started working towards projection and support. We don’t want our bras to ‘hold’ boobs, we want them to support and lift. Testing a sample on the 34G in the studio, we introduced a powermesh that would be more strong than our usual mesh, and therefore be more supportive. After a few samples and a bit of trial and error, we developed a sample for every size in the studio that we were happy with! We graded it out, and made samples to start fit testing.
We think the reason that the Ava didn’t fit perfectly in the ‘old’ style was because we didn’t fit test it correctly. Boobs are all different shapes and sizes and even two people who wear the same size could have totally different looking boobs. Making sure that we fit test Ava 2.0 extensively was a number one priority for us, and we’re super lucky to have such a supportive audience. At the beginning of February, 60 customers begun to volunteer their time to come to Lara HQ to be measured and try different editions of the Ava. This was invaluable to us!
At this point, we had our sizes split between cup sizes. Fortunately, we were able to test the Ava with 38 and 40 band sizes - something we’ve not done before! It became apparent to us that this was a group of sizes that were a different shape to our previous range, and we made the decision to again split the size range to make sure we cater to these sizes. We’re working on these sizes at the moment but are aiming to launch them in the next few months!
In the fit testing period, it was mostly a case of making small adjustments here and there! The most visits that any of our fit testers have made is 4, but many have only been once or twice. We’re really pleased about this, and are really happy that our meticulous sampling on team Lara paid off!
The gold hardware
A detail that we love in our styles is the gold hardware. Aside from each piece having a function, we think that the gold hardware is super pretty and is something we love in our bra and brief styles - a Lara trademark!
Previously the Ava had J hook on the straps that allowed for it to be worn either straight strap, or a cross back. This J hook was the only component that was sourced outside of Europe as the only place we could get it was from China. Whilst we were still sampling and fit testing the design, we ran out of our supply in the J hooks, and Chinese New Year and Coronavirus made it very difficult to source anymore. Although it sent us into panic for a few days, we decided to step back and reflect the value of having a supply chain close to home. After deliberation amongst the team and feedback from the customers that came in for fit testing, we decided that going forward it’s really important to us to be able to source all our materials in Europe or England, and so the Ava 2.0 is a straight strap style.
Zoe wearing a 28F in the Ava 2.0 - an improvement from the previous Ava!
On the 17th February, we were able to approve the A-D cups, and production began the following day! Our Factory Coordinator was away this week, but had been super organised and created a document for the production team to follow so we could get started on production as soon as it was ready.
Whilst the sampling was going on, we invested in a new machine that would automatically print our lays - on the first day of production in the Ava 2.0 we were able to print 86 products in 5 minutes - previously this would have taken 2 days by hand! Having a plotter to plan our lays also means that we can make sure we use as much of our fabric as we can to minimise waste.
We knew that in the bigger cups there were only a few small changes to make, so we felt comfortable at this point to start getting everything ready and set a launch date. Having switched from our made to order way of production, to having stock available to ship and order, we knew we needed a backlog of stock ready for when the product launched. The last thing we wanted was to announce the Ava 2.0 and customers be excited to then let them down by having nothing available for them to order. We’d already made up plenty of stock of the briefs whilst we were in the final stages of design in the Ava, so it was great to be able to get on with it and have over 800 items ready for the launch day.
On the 25th February, we approved the DD - GG cups! This is equivalent to what previously was up to our I cup (read about why we changed our sizing), and so we were able to go ahead with the launch matching our the same size range we had before.
No samples go to waste
Samples towards the end of the process have been worn by team Lara, making sure that it stays comfortable throughout the day and that it can be worn as an everyday bra. Samples from the initial stages to were cut up so the components could be used again, and the material has been added to our textile recycling scheme we use for any shreds in the studio. We don’t like waste around here!
Extending the range
At Lara, it’s always been, and always will be, to be inclusive as we can. We’ve launched the Ava 2.0 in our previous size range, but are already working on expanding this up to a 40 band, and a HH cup. Stay tuned!