When fashion designer Gabrielle Davies and Pilates instructor Anissa Germain move from the drawing board to the factory floor, it all becomes very real.

After sample fabrics have been ordered, the next stage is to decide on the styling. Anissa and I focused on the different styles the big brands were promoting; we were keen to pick a style people could wear before and after their workout. We visited many retail outlets that specialise in sportswear, and spent a lot of time trying on new shapes, trends and researching the different fabric qualities present in the market.

We both realised very quickly that most of the leading companies, and many of the high-street chains, mainly focus on yoga and dance wear. There is a big gap in the market for Pilates specific clothing that you can comfortably wear throughout the day before your Pilates class. This gap in the market is where the Bora brand will sit.

As Anissa continued to build up her clientele at the Bora studio, I returned to the drawing board to sketch up new commercial shapes for our initial collection, as well as other capsule collections to be introduced later. We sat for hours in between class tweaking, adding and changing each style until we were both happy. It was important that each design worked from a practical sense as well as a fashion sense, and although it took a while for us both to agree, eventually, we had the perfect styles to launch the Bora Collection.

With the designs finished, we were ready to make our first samples, but with the small production it was always going to be difficult to find someone willing to make them. Over the next few weeks I visited factories in the North of England. For each factory, I was focusing on their quality of machinery,quality of production, who they currently supplied, and if they wanted to work with us. I decided on a factory that I had worked with many times over the past few years. It is always useful to use a factory that you have worked with previously; a lot of time, money, and effort have already been put into this project, and it is a risk putting the manufacturing to a company you are unfamiliar with.

The more Anissa wore the garments the more excited she became at how close we were to our goals.

Next, I needed to work on ordering the fabrics and trimmings for each style. I had each of them delivered to my studio to ensure the high standards we aspired to were being met. Thankfully, they were. We then had to conform our patterns to Bora’s specification sheets, but at the same time making sure the patterns did not hinder the styling or fit of each sample. At our initial fit session, we had a single size that could be worn by three varying shaped ladies, but all while maintaining the fit, style, and commercial look we were seeking.

We spent a lot of time ensuring the fit would stay perfect for the various shaped women that we want buying our product. The fit of each garment is so important, it not only has to enhance the body, but must sit well on all body shapes. This is made extra challenging when you take into account the various body lengths we need to cater for.

The factory created a first sample of each style following our specifications. We used contrasting thread colours to enhance specific panels, and a specific style of stitches to create the unique Bora style we wanted. Once completed, we went to the factory to do a final check, and made some last-minute comments on each one. The factory then made the prototypes adhering to all our comments and adjustments, and all that was next was to wait for their arrival.

Some weeks later I received an e-mail to say the parcel was on its way. I can’t tell you how excited Anissa and I were. The boxes arrived, and I looked at them before showing Anissa to see if all the instructions had been followed. Until you see the actual samples, you never know if things have worked. The samples looked great, there were a few minor things I wanted to change before we go into production, but nothing major.

I called Anissa to come to my studio, and I was relieved to see that her initial reaction was good. She tried each sample on; experimenting with combinations of the different garments. The more Anissa wore the garments the more excited she became at how close we were to our goals.

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Next week: Pushing the manufacturing ‘GO’ button