Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Intimate Interview: Marni Franks of Thousand Dancers

I came across Thousand Dancers when a brightly patterned bra on Urban Outfitters' website caught my eye, and after a quick Google search, I think it took me about 3 minutes total to fall in love with these pieces. Marni Franks, textile & graphic designer and the creative force behind the Patti Smith-inspired intimates line, generously agreed to an interview despite current flood conditions in her native Australia.

Pretty Little Underthings: You studied graphic and textile design and experiment with a variety of methods to achieve your prints. What inspired you to start an intimates line?
Marni Franks: I’ve always adored textiles and even when studying graphic design, I took screen-printing classes and used my assignments to design textile ranges for intimates and bed linen.

I love the freedom of expression that intimates allow; they’re like the wearer’s little secret.  You can experiment so much more with color and prints in intimates and not be trapped by fashion trends.

PLU: I adore your line for the vibrant prints and variety of styles. Which pieces are your favorites?
Marni: My favorites change all the time, but at the moment I’m loving a combination of the Barefoot underwire bra in the Lennox digital print with the G.L.O.R.I.A. ruffle brief in salmon silk.

marni's current favorite bra, barefoot underwire in lennox digital print

PLU: Would you say there’s a specific type of woman you’re designing for? What are some of her personality traits and interests?
Marni: I like to think that the Thousand Dancers girl is a little bit different. She loves showing off bright intimates under loose tanks and sheer vintage dresses. She rocks out alone to rolling stones records in her living room whilst drinking scotch from candy colored coffee mugs. She matches her bra straps with her eye shadow, but clashes with her bag and shoes!

 Urban Outfitters recently sold your Nadia set online to the US market. Will there be opportunities to purchase your pieces in the US from other retailers or from your own website soon?

Marni: Yes definitely! The Urban Outfitters opportunity was amazing, I had two different bras on sale though them, the Lennox print and the Nadia print. Both have sold very well which has been really exciting!

US customers are also able to purchase off the Thousand Dancers website and I would love love love to get some items into US retailers. If any retailers are interested, they can contact me at
marni's current favorite bottoms, G.L.O.R.I.A. ruffle briefs in salmon silk

PLU: What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to launch your line?
Marni: I launched the label on the day the Global Financial Crisis and as I write this my hometown of Brisbane, Australia is in a flood crisis. We’re all sitting and waiting for the waters to subside so we can get out there and help clean it all up. [Ed. note: information on how you can help relief organizations in Australia is at the end of this post.]

I’ve faced a lot of barriers on a macro level and even more on a micro scale. It hasn’t been an easy ride, but when the little wins come along—like being stocked in Urban Outfitters and getting website hits from across the globe—it makes it all incredibly worthwhile.

I get up every day wanting to do nothing else but keep building this label and I’m so incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to do that.

PLU: What advice would you give to other aspiring designers?
Marni: I would tell all aspiring designers to make sure you keep enjoying what you do. Establishing your own label is a lot of work. It’s only 5% design and 95% administration, marketing, sales and stock inventory. But if you’re really serious about it, then go for it.
Thanks Marni!

I asked Marni if there were any specific relief organizations she'd like to mention:
- The main one is the Premier's Flood Appeal to support the Queensland Flood victims.

- Brisbane RSPCA, who is our main organization for the care of sick and injured animals. Their head office was destroyed in the floods and they're not a government supported charity.

Visit Thousand Dancers online and follow on Twitter

1 comment:

  1. i think i too need salmon silk briefs in my drawers. thanks for sharing esther!