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Samanta

Semi #335
In the early nineties, Czesława Listwan and Elżbieta Adame created their own lingerie brand, with help from their friends and family. Bras were hard to come by and intricate lingerie was all but extinct in Poland. They intended Samanta to be a different breed; their products would be feminine, comfortable and tailored to the female shape. The label initially stayed local, but at an 1999 industry fair in Poznan, the company emerged as a nation wide commodity. Very quickly, they realized that the traditional chain of sale, from the company to distributing warehouses to retailers, wasn't working and they broke away from the middle man. It was a revolutionary step at the time and ensured that the company would have easy, unfiltered access to their retailers and customers. Four years ago, Samanta divided it's brand into three smaller collections: Samanta, Pret a Porter, and Glamour.

Inti #335 and #351
I met the founder's daughter, Marzena Listwan, for lunch on a rather mucky day in Krackow. Ms. Listwan is the creative director of the brand and has been their head designer for the past twelve years. She spoke poignantly about her artistic process, how it evolves and the ways in which it's tied to her personal life. She said her work could be inspired by anything. For Spring 2013, she was fascinated by ancient pagan worship and each line is named after a god from the period. The upcoming Autumn collection was inspired by the colors and textures of sea slugs.  Later, we met with her sister, Natalia, who travels extensively as a fitting instructor and lingerie consultant. She walked me through the line and fit me into their main constructions.

Papilio #142
Natalia Listwan informed me that their bras are meant to cover between 70% to 90% of the breast and their sizing system aims for a gentle fit. Both women told me that Samanta has experienced pressure, from some of their retailers and customers, to create tight bands in the British style.  Their response was straightforward and confident. They don't design their products that way and their lingerie has been reliable and popular for years. Why would they alter something that works as it is? Overall, I'd agree with them. While I would never buy a 30 band in Freya for example, I was happy with most of the 65 bands from Samanta. It was a much more comfortable fit than I was used to, but it did work.

Neptis #211
After our meeting, I felt the company's biggest strengths lay in it's organization, professionalism, and accessibility. Samanta's promotional materials, retailer catalog, and collection structure are formatted beautifully. Each base shape has a serial number ("A142"), rather than a vague phrase ("plunge balcony"). Their catalog has detailed descriptions for each construction indicating the type of bust it's intended for, the details of the material, and the appearance the bra will provide under shirts. It's easily the most approachable, practical document I've ever seen from a lingerie brand.

Regalis # 925
The Samanta gals shared some great news with me too. Their new website, which will handle overseas orders, arrives later this spring (May-June). And the next part, I'm really excited about! Through the website, it will be possible to CREATE YOUR OWN BRA!! You'll be able to choose from their constructions and pick the fabrics, embroidery and alternative options, like push-up pads to even out breast size. The program has been tested out through some of their national retailers, with great success. I know of one other similar system, an Empreinte atelier in Paris, but I believe they'll be the first to offer deep customization online.

Size range: Smallest band is a 65. Largest band is a 95. Smallest cup is a B. Largest cup is a K. *With select availability.

Company approved personalized fit: 65G, with the exception of their "900" styles. 

Founded: 1992. Family owned and operated.

Claims to fame: Bespoke option coming soon. Patented, foam padded straps.

Aesthetic: Basics offer a construction for every lingerie preference. Bewitching, artistic fashion.

Availability: Looking for North American distributors. International ordering within the next few months. 

Coming up next: A Guide to Samanta's Constructions...

11 Comments

  1. Hi, recently found your blog via K.Line, a fellow sewing blogger. :-)

    Can't wait to see the guide to constructions and am praying there's an option for those of us with narrow shoulders and a barrel chest!! (Probably too much to hope for though. :-( )

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    1. Welcome, Country Girl Couture! A break down of their constructions will be out soon and I'd bet it would be of particular interest to you as a sewing blogger. I have narrow shoulders too and a full bust, their stuff did work well for me. :)

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  2. I'm excited with the news! And I want Papilio so bad!!! I hope the price range is not too bad. :D:D:D

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    1. I think it's modest and I know, such AWESOME news!!

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  3. That Papilio is lovely. I suppose the cup sizes are European though, right?

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    1. Yes, the cup sizes are European and thus, don't factor the doubles in (DD, FF, GG, HH, etc.) but their 900 styles run very, very deep in the cup so if you're on the verge, you might be in luck. :)

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  4. The Papilio style is gorgeous! How are the cup sizes compared to british ones? I'd definitely want to order one of their bras but as a regular 28FF/30F I'm not sure what to opt for. What would you recommend? Go for my usual 30F?

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    1. Hmmmm. I'm a British 30FF or 28G. I was given a 65G and in the "deep" cups, that worked. So, it depends a lot on which shape you'd want to go for, which I'll cover in the next post! :) :) But I'm sure we can puzzle it out.

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    2. Looking forward to that next post - the Papilio #142 is SO SEXY! I must have it! Not sure my size will work with their range (28Kish UK, 60KK/L Ewa Michalak), but I'm reeeeeally, really hoping it does.

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  5. Hi Cecily , if you maybe remember, here is the younger shop assistant from Dessous Avenue in Austia who recognized you :)

    I want to say that I always dreamed of doing the same kind of travel through Poland as you are doing now and it's amazing for me to follow your steps here.

    As we sell Samanta in our shop I know their bras pretty well and have seen them on lots of different women. While I really adore them in terms of design and fit - actually Samanta is my favourite brand - I am more than disappointed they stopped producing 60-bands and want to stick to their size range. There is definately not only a market, but also a need for it. If Brafitting would be more common it would be visible that many women would need an expanded size range. I just believe that the reason why Samanta (and other brands) decide not to expand their sizing range is that it's not profitable enough for them, as Brafitting is not common enough yet.
    I usually wear UK 28F/FF or 30E/F and for me their 65 bands unfortunately don't work, as they ride up. Of course I've also had many costumers that would need tighter bands. Especially in the smaller sizes Samanta bras work very well for most women and are very popular. For me as a fitter it's just frustrating not being able to influence my ressouces :(

    Anyway, this is just something that really bothers me.
    I wish you a wonderful and informative bra-journey, thank you for doing this!

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  6. The bespoke option is really exciting, as is their upcoming North American partnership talk. I do hope that fit is tested and retested well before shipping a custom made bra, else I fear a high return rate (and this loss rate for the manufacturer) or if they are not returnable a high disappointment rate among customers.

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