Slowly and steadily, I am chipping away at a (still growing) backlog of bra reviews, but I am extremely excited to finally reach the two Samanta lingerie reviews I planned. As long time readers know by now, I am a fan of Polish lingerie design and appreciate their unique approach to both bra fit and aesthetic. As a result, when Marzena of Samanta contacted me back in December about potentially carrying the brand in the store, I was excited but reserved. I had never tried Samanta before and was going to order a style or two direct from her as samples to test the fit and quality. Enter the amazing Sweet Nothings! A while back, she reviewed three of Samanta’s popular designs on her blog and was gracious enough to give me her A925 Mintaka and her A111 Hana Claret because she’s totally awesome like that. Since we’re in the same size range, I was excited to see how this brand compared to the other UK and Polish companies I tried in the past. Initially, this post began as a review of the A925, complete with video review and pictures, but my penchant for detailed explanations turned a “brief” discussion of the Samanta brand, their model numbers, and sizing system into a 1500+ word epic better suited for a post of its own. As a result, before delving into the product reviews, I am taking today to provide some background on Samanta for anyone not familiar with the brand.
Every lingerie company approaches sizing, fit, and collection organization in a different way. Some companies, such as Elomi and sister brands Goddess, Freya, and Fantasie for example, have a set model number for each bra frame underneath a more general style name like Cate or Deco. All of the bras usually fall into one of two categories: Core or Fashion. Core items may overlap with fashion in that the brand will release a temporary color or print to supplement the existing permanent collection of neutrals. For example, the Elomi Cate is available year round in core colors Latte, White, Pecan, and Black, but for Spring 2016, Elomi released a lovely Caribbean Blue for a fashion color. Fashion items, on the other hand, are either entirely new bra frames being tested in retail to determine their viability as a core style or are existing bra frames, like the old Elomi Sakura, which have been retooled in new fabrics and released for the season (see any of the stretch lace Elomi plunges). In some cases, the use of new fabrics on existing frames becomes so popular, the fashion style transitions into a core offering, like Elomi Raquel.
From season to season, these brands usually employ about three micro color collections designed to coincide with release dates. For retailers, this means the collections are designed to show up in the store at roughly the same time and hang well together for visual appeal. For consumers, it means you’ll see coordinating bras and underwear that may not “match” but rather “go” together (Where are my old What Not to Wear Fans?). Freya, in particular, has embraced this approach and gone so far as to implement the Fancies panties and bralette programs to encourage consumers to purchase bras from the coordinating collections. The upside to this system can be less confusion related to model numbers as well as seasonal collection which still can be diverse, but the downside is companies are not always forthcoming in descriptions or listings about which bra frame has been recycled to create this season’s latest and greatest versus which styles are entirely new. Furthermore, because the fabric of say the Caribbean Blue Cate is only used on the Cate, some customers are not able to enjoy a fabric or color they love. They may not like the fit of Cate or fit into the bra’s size range, and as a result, are relegated to admiring the bra from afar. Now, there is nothing inherently bad about this technique, and most consumers have acclimated to the ubiquity of its use. Nevertheless, I want to explain how Samanta tweaks this approach in a new way.
Samanta, in painstaking detail, breaks down every one of their available model numbers right down to what kind of breast tissue they designed the style for and how much coverage it offers. And they have a lot of model numbers. When Marzena first sent me the information on her brand, I had one of those moments were you open your eyes really wide, things fuzz out, and you lean your head back trying to process the information. On paper, it can be confusing, mostly, in my opinion, because of the overlap. The A 925 I will be reviewing first is one of two “semi-soft” bras, the other being the A225, and the differences between them are minimal. Check out the information below for a few of the 20+ models numbers:
- A111: This bra design is dedicated to women with larger breasts. Optically reduces the bust, exposes it and slightly raises it up. It maintains and naturally rounds the bust. Deep cups cover 80% of the bust, ensuring maximum subtlety and comfort.
- A122: This bra is designed for women with larger breasts. It collects the bust to the cleavage. Lifts it giving it strong support and comfort. Hidden supports inside the bra offer additional support.The cups cover 80% of the bust.
- A175: Bra model with seamless cups. It naturally enhances the bust. Cups are thermally profiled and placed in the high-centre. The sides smoothly cling to the body. Detachable straps the width of which are especially designed for the size of the cup. Perfect bra for women with widely spread breasts. Fits well with skin-tight outfits, thanks to seamless finishing it doesn’t stand out under clothes.
- A222: The bra is designed for women with larger breasts. It doesn’t enlarge the bust, but lifts and gathers it, providing it with strong support. The cups cover 80% of the bust. The bra is made of lace or embroidery, lined on the inside by an extra net which has the same values for usability as in the A122 model.
- A225: The design of the “semi-soft” type bra (bottom of the cup stiffened , reinforced by foam with cotton from the side of the body), is dedicated to women with less firm breasts. Rounds and supports large breasts very well, collects and naturally lifts the bust up,while providing maximum comfort.
- A922: This bra design has additional strength. Designed for women with larger and/or less firm breasts. Patented straps add to increased comfort and stability. Deep cups cover 90% of the bust and the additional strength of the cup ensures stable support. This bra gathers and rounds the bust, naturally exposing it.
- A925: This bra design is for women with larger and/or less firm breasts. Patented straps guarantee comfort and stability. Deep cups cover 90% of the bust and foam in the lower part of the cup provides additional strength and ensures stable support. This bra gathers and rounds the bust, naturally exposing it.
What I love about this approach though is that it gives consumers and retailers a sense of consistency once they take the time to determine the best fit for them or for their customers. You can enter every season knowing exactly which model numbers to buy. For example, if the A925 or A225 are the only bras that work for you, then you can search each season’s collections for those model numbers only. Furthermore, in Samanta’s collections, in addition to coordinating color palettes among different styles, they also literally use the same colors, fabrics, and embroideries slightly tweaked for each model number in the collection. Eveden’s Freya tends to come the closest, I think, to channeling this design decision. In some fabrics from Freya, you may see a plunge balcony bra, a padded half cup, and a longline bra available for sale, but in others, you only have one choice. Samanta, in contrast, always gives you multiple style options for a given fabric and tries to incorporate complementary model numbers. For example, below is a pictures of the upcoming Intensa Fluo series we’ll be carrying in the store later this summer:
As you can see, the collection uses the same materials with several kinds of bras all available and targeted toward different breast shapes as well as multiple matching bottoms to suit the customers’ needs. The advantage of this approach is that a single fashion collection often encompasses the entire Samanta size range (30-40 bands and UK A-J cups) and satisfies the needs of a variety of different breast shapes. It’s this last component in particular that I like. Most brands have defined fits for their collections. For example, if Comexim, my dear sweet Comexim, does not work for you at all, then more than likely, you are not going to find anything in their collection that will fit properly and the brand will be labeled “Not for me” indefinitely. With Samanta, you have multiple fit models and even breast tissue types being addressed so that the brand manages to be extremely inclusive for the size range available.
Speaking of the size range, I have been using UK sizing, but like many European companies, they use a different sizing system. Bands range from 65-90 and cups from A to M. As an example, both of the bras Sweet Nothings sent me were a size 70K or UK 32H. Here’s a chart to show you the breakdown:
Finally, Samanta continues their accessibility to price. Each of the collections are categorized into one of three price points: Young, Pret-a-Porter, and Glamour. Young is the cheapest line which uses more simplified fabrics, laces, and embroideries while Glamour, as the name suggests, channels all the sophistication, ornateness, and quality of an upscale line. Pret-a-Porter functions as a bridge between the two. The fact that Samanta tries to offer consumers not only the ability to determine which models work for them but also to find those models in a variety of price points is lovely. If you want to spend the extra money for that $80 or $90 bra with beautiful laces and details, you can certainly do that, but if you are on a budget, the Young line offers some great alternatives both in fashion and basic colors.
I hope this information helps everyone, and I am really excited to be posting the actual reviews soon!