Lauren is a true American hero. She works tirelessly with her hands to produces a commodity treasured by both men and women alike – bikinis and women’s underwear. YES, FELLAS. Lauren works in New York City at the Victoria’s Secret design headquarters as a swimwear and panties designer. Let that marinate for a minute…
Lauren took time out of her busy schedule from making men salivate, designing thongs and tailoring bikini bottoms to talk fashion with the lumberjacks. Here is what this fashion aficionado had to say.
BOJ: How did become interested in fashion? When did you know it was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
LG: I was always really interested in art when I was younger. Art was my favorite class in school and my parents would get me some amazing drawing/painting stuff when I was younger. My mom majored in art in college and was an art teacher for a while, so she taught me a lot. I guess you could say I’ve always been interested into going into a creative and artistic profession. Anyways, I became interested in fashion when I was thinking about what college to attend and what I wanted to do when I got out of high school. My cousin lived in NYC and worked in fashion. I visited her and even completed an internship at American Eagle Design Center the summer after my junior year of high school, to see if it was something I liked. I loved it. Being able to design something and then to walk down the street and seeing a random person wearing what you designed is just an amazing feeling. Plus, working in fashion is never the same day twice. The trends are always changing and you work about a year ahead of time of what people are currently wearing.
BOJ: What kinds of clothing did you begin designing?
LG: When I started school I didn’t know how to sew, or what the design process was or anything really about fashion – except for what I’d read in magazines and observed through the media (fashion week shows, couture shows, style.com, wgsn.com, etc). My personal fashion taste is very broad. I like a mix of bohemian and vintage/retro styles with lots of feminine details. I also really like bright colors and conversational prints. I started designing styles in school that were similar to my sense of style. I was never interested in athletic wear or functional garments. My main interests were high-end fashion and fast fashion brands and retailers.
BOJ: How did you find your way to New York? What kind of work did you pursue?
LG: I was lucky enough to have family living here, or I never would have made it. It’s the fashion capital of the United States. I would say about 70% of fashion companies have their design centers here. The rest are in LA and there are a few in Florida, Seattle, and Ohio or the Midwest. I started interning at American Eagle Outfitters Design office, then went to Alice & Olivia and interned for a year, then came to Victoria’s Secret Pink which is where I am currently. During and after school it’s common for students in the fashion industry to have around 5 internships before getting a job. You learn all the basics in school but you don’t know how to apply them until you have an internship, and work within a design team. Plus every company works differently, especially if it’s a corporate big brand or smaller private brand. My goal was to design for a company that I agree with the aesthetic and enjoy wearing myself.
BOJ: Where do you find inspiration for the designing process?
LG: Literally anywhere and everywhere. The main thing to keep in mind though is even if the designers love the idea/design, it has to be wearable and appealing to the Pink girl. We conduct focus groups of our target customer which is a 20 year old college girl. We’ve had several focus groups at UCLA and NYU. We ask the girls in the groups what they’re wearing, what they want to see, what they like, what they don’t like, etc. Since I design swimwear and panties right now, for example, last weekend I was at a NYC hotel pool and taking pictures of some girls in cute swim suits that I saw for possible print and silhouette inspiration. We had a design team outing last week and went to the MET museum for their current fashion “punk” exhibit they have going on. We also take inspiration from our overseas vendors at vendor week when they all come and show us their new fabrics and designs they’re been working on. We also look at competitors to see what they are doing.
BOJ: How does this type of work compare to your previous experience?
LG: Working with swim and panties is a lot different that working on sportswear garments. The fit process is a lot more important and all the fabrics we use are knit, mesh, or stretch wovens which are harder to fit than woven fabrics in sportswear.
BOJ: What is your favorite type of clothing to work on?
LG: Dresses, specifically gowns are really fun. Swimwear is always fun too.
BOJ: What would you say to those looking to get into fashion design? Anything to look for or stay away from?
LG: It’s hard! You can’t give up and you have to go above and beyond especially today since there are so many TV shows about fashion design, a lot of girls want to do it now. Before I started working at Victoria’s Secret I interviewed with five other companies, and had to do projects and phone interviews before I actually went to meet in person with the companies. Whatever the company asks you to do, it’s best to do MORE because you’re competing with tons of other people. You have to have a strong backbone and keep up with the fashion shows, trends and news in the fashion/textile industry. Also in my opinion it is better to work for a corporate company than a smaller high end private brand. The work/life balance is much better, as well as pay and benefits. Also, the fast fashion brands that pump out tons of styles are usually sweatshops for designers and you don’t get a work/life balance at all.