The evolution of a LYRA swimsuit, from inception to delivery, is a complex nine-month process. The journey takes us from the LYRA studios in London, to the fabric mills in Bergamo, Northern Italy, all the way to a family run factory in Istanbul. The creative process, along with the rigorous craftsmanship that goes into designing and producing each LYRA swimsuit, is something in which we take immense pride.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS.
London, UK — September: We might be in the midst of ‘fashion month’ (the four consecutive weeks of runway shows that wind their way from New York to London to Milan to Paris), but September each year is also the time that our designers showcase their proposed new designs to our design, production and sampling teams. The creative process starts with extensive research - our designers are constantly on the lookout for inspiration, whether that is through reviewing vintage magazines and books to analyse the construct of classical swimwear from the 1940s and 1960s, or exploring vivid market places all over the world to incorporate different philosophies into our designs. The next step is to build large mood boards displaying imagery that illustrates the personality that our designers are trying to capture in the products.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE FABRIC.
Bergamo, Italy October: Our ambition at LYRA has always been to use only the finest Italian swimwear fabrics in the world. Unlike many other swimwear brands, we oversee each stage of preparing the fabric. Whilst our research and design teams are in the midst of the creative process, our fabric team’s journey is underway, sourcing from Italian mills and developing custom fabrics with our Italian suppliers.
We start with the choice of raw materials from the mills. The critical ingredient to ensure optimum comfort and durability in a modest swimsuit is the elastomer. In our Bergamo mills, we use the finest patented elastomeric fibres available in the market - these fibres offer high quality protection from UV rays, four times the protection provided by high SPF suncreens. Additionally, our swimsuits (or as some may call them, Burkinis) incorporate beachwear fabrics which, thanks to their innovative construction, are sand resistant. We ensure that our swimwear fabric colours maintain their intensity and clarity over time. Every new colour added to our collection is tested to assure the highest colour fade resistance when the fabrics are exposed to light, repeated washings, sea and chlorinated water, in compliance with ISO and US certifications. Finally, our swimwear fabrics are exposed to vigorous physical and visual testing before being authorised for use by our fabric team. At LYRA we invest our time and resources to ensure that you benefit from the optimal material for your swimsuit (Burkini).
London, UK — November: It is 2 months after the Autumn 2018 runway show. The design team has begun developing concepts for the next collection. Once a designer has a concept — sometimes strict, often loose — in his or her head, it’s time to start building swimsuit pieces. Some start by sketching, others by draping fabrics on a live model. This is where the iterative process is really crucial. For example, the sort of silhouette the designer envisions will also affect the process. A draped modest swimsuit such as a RAYA must be worked out on a form, while tailored swimsuits like a SOFIA might work better if it is first done as a flat pattern.
Once our fabric and final designs have passed the rigorous quality and suitability tests in our Italian test centre, they are delivered to our LYRA pattern cutters in our London design studio. At this point, we typically have a pattern cut which goes through the process of fitting on a muslin. “It’s about refining, refining, refining,” says Sophia Adam, the principal designer behind LYRA’s swimsuit division. “You’re fleshing out your whole line. You might design 10 swimsuit silhouettes and then refine until you get down to the strongest couple pieces… Ultimately, it’s about creating desire,” adds Sophia. “Whether it’s a commercial or conceptual piece, it’s about the connection between the swimsuit and consumer. That’s the magic moment.”
The next step in the journey from mood board to a finished swimsuit starts with what production managers call a “cut ticket," or an order detailing how many units of a specific piece needs to be “cut” or produced. While sourcing details are being smoothed out, the original pattern must be taken to our LYRA pattern graders, who are able to scale it to create different sizes. Once the production manager knows the measurements for each size, she must then create a "tech pack," or a detailed list of specifications for each swimsuit - for example, “how long is the zipper?”
We believe the outward and inward are always connected. That's why we make sure the quality of our swimwear is matched by the integrity of the people that created them.
Finding the right factory to produce our swimwear took more than two years of hard work, driven by a relentless and uncompromising determination. In the middle of Istanbul, the family run factory occupies 800 SQM2 of space spanning over five floors and employs 250 people, all of whom are paid fairly and treated with respect. We didn’t just ask for the highest ethical standards when looking for a factory, we also wanted to give back and support the local community.
Our factory is audited at least once a year and part of the Fair Wear Foundation ('FWF') to ensure the highest workplace standards. FWF is a non- profit organisation that works with brands, factories, trade unions, NGOs and sometimes governments to verify and improve workplace conditions.
NO DETAIL TOO SMALL
Istanbul, Turkey — April: Every LYRA swimsuit passes through 11 production stages and just as many hands, all guided by our commitment to uncompromising craftsmanship. From zippers, button and stitches, every element is carefully chosen and meticulously put in place. We hand stitch many parts of our swimsuits - for example, in all our SOFIA swimsuits, the seam between zip and body is done by hand. Hand stitching is the only way to ensure the correct tension in the stitches is achieved. Before each product leaves the nest, our quality control team inspects every swimsuit by hand, guaranteeing that no detail is overlooked.
THE FINAL INSPECTION.
London, UK — June: Every swimsuit produced in our factory is inspected for the smallest of faults before the LYRA label is sewn in. Loose threads are cut, stains removed and any fabric faults repaired. Each swimsuit is then hand-pressed, ironed and individually wrapped before being delivered to our warehouse in London ready to be purchased.