At a small factory in Coburg, graphic designer, illustrator and recently turned lingerie designer Annika Seidel checks the stitching and detail on some samples.
Her label, Light Years, launched earlier this year and made its mark as Melbourne women rejoiced in a line of lingerie that filled the void between cheap multi-packs and fancy frilly knickers.
A meld of elegant design, comfortable fabrics and smart detailing, Light Years is the result of Seidel’s own experiences when searching for smalls.
“I was frustrated with not being able to find any lingerie that reflected my personal style,” Seidel explains. “I like to dress a certain way that’s not too girlie but it’s not boring either and there was never really any underwear that fell into that category.”
Seidel discovered on airing her lingerie grievances that her view was widely shared by other women.
“Underwear isn’t really something you talk about too often. The minute I raised it with friends there was a flood of frustration,” she says.
Seidel graduated from RMIT in 2004 with a graphic design degree. She went on to design “really heinous menswear,” as well as home wares, sleepwear and then cut the corporate cord to enter the world of freelancing as a graphic designer and illustrator. “And randomly a little lingerie on the side,’’ she says with a giggle.
Without any previous experience in the production and design of lingerie, Seidel has had to think on her feet.
“I’d never done lingerie and I didn’t know anyone who had. My previous work was linked into the fashion industry so I had an idea of the process,” she explains. “I knew enough about what I did want and exactly what I didn’t to start.”
Comfortable, wearable fabrics were paramount. Seidel began the hunt for fabrics based in natural fibres that steered clear of shiny, lacy, synthetic elements. She quickly discovered a local fabric wholesaler championing quality cotton jersey with vibrant yellow hues and muted oatmeal, cream and black.
“Fabric was such an important criterion from the get-go,” she says.
With her first collection finished, Seidel is already working on the second. She says it will feature the same minimally elegant aesthetics as the first with a similar mid-range price point.
‘‘I’m never going to be able to compete with Bonds or someone of that scale,” she says of the range’s pricing (between $50–$110). “For manufacturing locally, real quality, and to have a product you believe in and know where it comes from, that’s just what you pay.”
It seems a small price for a simple, wearable pleasure.
Details: visit lightyears.com.au.