Lingerie Blog

The Story Behind Hot Knickers Lingerie

In November 2014, Hot Knickers Lingerie designer, Ali left a partnership in a fancy dress shop to pursue bespoke costume design. Her passion for design was re-ignited  because the offer of a small, local studio came about. This studio was in the back room of a local hairdressers in Clonakilty, Co. Cork.

Coincidentally, the room already had an industrial over-locker, sewing machine and a cutting out table. In such a small locale, finding machinery like these was very fortunate, Ali took this as a positive sign, and decided to take the room.

From studying fashion, in the 80’s in York, England, and previous experience sewing and making wedding dresses, she was confident in her creative ability to make amazing costumes.

A Gallery Of Bespoke Wiz of Oz Costumes
Bespoke Wizard of Oz Costumes - Made by Ali

Beginning with circus and theatre, these costumes ranged from stilt walking costumes to acrobatic suits made from stretch fabrics. Sometimes they could take several months from start to finish. From finalising and approving designs with clients, to ordering fabrics and then construction. Sewing itself could take up to three solid weeks.

Bespoke Theatre & Stilt Walking Costumes
Bespoke Theatre & Stilt Walking Costumes - Made by Ali

In the meantime Ali became good friends with Paula, the hairdresser in the front room of the studio. One day, Paula was going out after work, planning on wearing a particularly tight dress.

But she hadn’t brought her spanx knickers to wear underneath.

Ali decided that she would make an impromptu pair of knickers with some stretch fabric she had left over.

As a surprise, Ali went through to the salon and presented Paula with the first ever pair of “Paula Hot Knickers” which Paula preceded to try on whilst blow drying a client’s hair.

The very next day, Paula came back to Ali and asked for another six pairs.

Whilst Ali continued with designing and making costumes, she also attended a “start your own business course” through the local enterprise office. Ali has said from the beginning that

“My focus is on elegant, comfortable lingerie inspired by the glamour of the 1940s and 1950s combined with 21st-century fabrics to meet the demands of women’s lifestyles today,”

Irish Times

With this in mind she put together a business plan, applied for funding and a small bank loan, so that she could order more specific machinery for the sewing. She travelled to a fashion expo in Paris, to source appropriate, ethically made fabric for Hot Knickers Lingerie.

Overview Shot Of The Premiere Vision Expo In Paris
The premiere vision expo in Paris.

In May 2016, Paula moved her hairdresser business to Cork city, leaving Ali with the opportunity to take over the entire premises. This was perfectly timed, as the backroom was starting to feel a bit cramped.

Ali Wheeler Sketching Designs
Ali in her studio sketching Hot Knickers designs.

From there Ali converted the whole space into what is now the Hot Knickers Lingerie Studio. For the next several months Ali worked on designs that she could add to the range, like the Ava & Charlie camisoles, and the original Liz slip.

As things progressed she stopped with costume design, and in November 2016, launched her business with a “knicker party” where she set up a small fashion show, modelled by locals. The launch was a success.

Designer Ali Directing Her Knicker Party Fashion Show
Ali directing her local "knicker party" fashion show.

Over the past 24 months Hot Knickers Lingerie has steadily grown, with new ranges added, such as the Bravo! Bralette, Liz Vests and more.

The original Hot Knickers website launched in July 2017, but failed to live up to expectations. In Christmas of 2017, Ali’s son Taidgh (who is writing this now), took over the website and online management. With a website re-launch in April 2018. Since then the website has evolved in conjunction with the growth of Hot Knickers Lingerie.

With 2018 coming to a close, Hot Knickers Lingerie is very excited for the future and the start of the new year. With many things planned.

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