“We knew we wanted to make our products as close to home as possible,” says Donna Harland. “When we realised that all the manufacturing could be done in Yorkshire we were over the moon.”
Donna and her partner Steve Preston have been dreaming of a luxury lingerie collection for years. The vision was simple: high quality, well-fitted pieces including briefs and thongs with adjustable straps, balancing an elegant look with comfort and wearability.
“I was sure there was a gap in the market for the right product, but I had no idea how to make it happen,” she explains.
The challenge for Donna, who owns a hair salon, and Steve, whose background is in construction, was knowing where to start. To point them in the right direction, Future Fashion Factory introduced Donna and Steve to Anita Massarella in 2019.
A bespoke haute couture designer, Anita specialises in bridal, evening and daywear from her studio in Leeds and consults on extensively on branding and luxury goods for business and private clients. With decades of experience, she acted as a consultant for Steve and Donna on every aspect of the product development process, from materials and manufacturing to labelling and pricing.
“Anita asked questions that we hadn’t even thought of,” says Steve, “She was so helpful on everything from intellectual property and design concepts to materials, labelling, and even finding a manufacturer. We really benefited from her expertise to get the product off the ground.”
In these early stages, Anita put Donna and Steve in touch with Something Wicked, the luxury lingerie manufacturer just a couple of miles from Anita’s own atelier. Working with specialists at Something Wicked’s premises on Mabgate in Leeds, Donna and Steve were able to develop the design and the brand finally began to take shape.
A single talented maker guides each piece of lingerie through the manufacturing process for the Something Wicked brand. Last year, the company even collaborated with Future Fashion Factory researchers to identify digital technologies that could empower each creative to work more productively.
With such a highly skilled team and production capacity expanding, the company has begun to see more interest from other brands looking for UK-based suppliers. Managing Director Steff McGrath is keen to support businesses looking for local manufacturing.
“We help with every aspect of development, from sampling and grading to manufacturing,” Steff explains. “Our approach to production means we can be totally flexible and handle the whole process in-house.
“Making garments is a highly skilled job and we’re passionate about keeping and growing those skills in our community. We’ll do whatever we can to support businesses that want to help us build the industry here in Yorkshire.”
Despite the pandemic limiting the amount of time they could spend together on site, Donna and Steve collaborated with Steff and her team on every aspect of the collection. Donna and Steve’s first choice material performed poorly in wash tests, so they tried new alternatives. Steff’s team developed the pattern, grading and size chart.
To complete the manufacturing process within the region, Something Wicked even identified a supplier of care labels in Huddersfield, as well as an embroiderer in Bradford to provide the final flourish: a Yorkshire rose on each piece.
From an initial introduction, Donna and Steve have been able to benefit from the wealth of knowledge, experience and manufacturing in Yorkshire to develop an entirely new product line, in spite of lockdowns and a host of other challenges.
Now with a website and social media channels live and a stand booked at this July’s Great Yorkshire Show, the Donna Marie Harland brand is finally ready to launch.
“It’s so satisfying to start with an idea and finally see physical products coming together,” says Steve. “We can’t quite believe we’ve achieved this in less than two years given the global situation.”
“And this is just the beginning,” Donna adds. “We have so many plans for where we can grow from here, with bras and maybe even swimwear – as long as we can make it in Yorkshire!”