First year BA (Hons) Fashion Contour students worked on a live brief in their final term with BehindBras – an award-winning social enterprise working with women in prisons. Students were tasked to work  in teams to design a range of 10 pieces of shapewear. Founder Barbara Burton then participated in the design selection process and advised on the target customer and market. Shapewear is a key element of the BehindBras range and as a brand they want to continue with their mission to reach out to women across all continents, giving a true meaning to the brand ‘empowering every woman behind her bra’ by developing a range of contour products in nine different skin tones.

BehindBras founder Barbara Burton with BA Contour students

The team winners were Miles, Freya, Mariko, Weronika and Aimee for their work on Nubian Skin. They were commended for their research and for working so well as a team with a consistent approach to the brief which includes marketing and packaging materials. Individuals were also recognised for their efforts and these included: Hazel Cooper for overall outstanding individual producing a high-end technically innovative and accomplished garment, Sofia Sanchez for a modern bandeau shape with new and unique styling, Nadia Isaura King for contemporary styling balanced with a retro approach to design, Kester Williams for glamorous deep-sided knicker and colour combination, Imogen Sophie Smith for innovative stitching techniques, She Kawasaki for a wearable and commercial slip dress, and Yonina Isman for both contemporary and wearable longline bras.

On the day that the groups were showcasing their work to a panel, we spoke to Barbara and the inning student group about the collaboration and here’s what they had to say.

Miles, Freya, Mariko, Weronika, Aimee:

We were given the brief as a whole class and then we were put in groups to look at a particular brand that would inspire us. Our group was inspired by Nubian Skin. From that brand we then had to create our own concept and ideas, and we all took very different routes. It was nice to see how we’ve all taken this brief and as much as all the projects are alike they are very different.

We thought the company was quite revolutionary in that they provide underwear women of colour the things they make is quite basic – it wasn’t really shapewear which is what Barbara wanted so we had to take some inspiration form the brand but at the same time we really had to tweak it in a lot of places and put in our own ideas

It was really important in this project to take in aspects of different ages and sizes of women to try and create a universal brand rather than making people go to different shops for different ages and different sizes – it’s really important to incorporate it all in one.

Barbara Burton – BehindBras Founder:

At BehindBras help women that have been to prison or have been involved in the criminal justice system to turn their lives around, through fashion and creativity. We help them with training and retail, we help them to find jobs but more importantly we are giving them back their self esteem to actually come back into the world with new skills. I go up and down the country visiting prisons, working with probation officers to identify women in the community or in prisons to see if they want to be involved in fashion.

I am so impressed with the work that the students have produced. It’s unbelievable – they are first year students and they have understood exactly what I want from the brand, the technical side and they have also understood the ethos behind what I want to do. With the lingerie they have been working on – it’s more about the glamourous side of lingerie. The project brief was for shapewear in nine different shades, to represent the different continents – it usually comes in four or five shades but I wanted to cover each continent so the students have come up with brilliant concepts and ideas taking it through that range.

Congratulations to the winning team.