Tessa Benham designs your knickers


Who are you and what do you do?


I'm here to design product and manage it from conception through to production, with a technical eye as well as a fashion approach.


I'm responsible for Jockey Woman Shapewear ranges, as well as new Bras arriving in store soon ( Watch this space!), Almost Nothing sideseam-free product (circular knit), No Panty Line Promise ranges and some of our indent fashion ranges.


Why is shapewear "exploding" in popularity right now?


Women have a natural desire to want to look good. Whether that be through the make-up they buy, the food they eat or the lingerie they wear. Modern Shapewear is something that can make a woman feel good inside and out.


Jockey Shapewear is an instant, easy solution to provide confidence and security everyday. Women are learning that shapewear can be comfortable and worn everyday – a re-education on old-fashioned memories and experiences of restricting corsetry or early modern shapewear mistakes.


Shapewear has also become more affordable, providing product to the everyday woman.


Celebrities are also embracing shapewear so it no longer has to be an embarrassing or taboo subject.


How on earth did you get such a function-only product to end up looking so glam?


Jockey provides a contemporary look and feel with smooth, silky fabrications, simple designs and timeless colours. Women receive so many negative messages about body size, Jockey's Shapewear range is designed to work with the wearers' curves to give confidence while looking gorgeous.


What is the purpose of shapewear? What does it do for a woman's figure?


Jockey Shapewear is designed to smooth and gently shape and support the body, hiding those lumps and bumps we just want to ignore so you can look and feel great from the office to dinner, out to coffee, or that special occasion. Jockey has not created shapewear as an alternative to anything as drastic as surgery! This is an everyday range that is designed to give our consumers added confidence without having to squeeze into it, instead working with the natural curves of the body.


Jockey Shapewear has been designed to fit and support New Zealand women. Most New Zealand women are naturally curvy, and we are known for our pear shaped silhouettes with curvy hips, yet it is also an increasingly multicultural society, so as well as garments that focus on shaping the hips, bottom and thighs (most common NZ'er complaints) there are also styles that will compress or boost the bust, shape the waist, and lift and enhance the bottom.


Different pieces of shapewear do different things – why is it so important to wear the right shape?


Many women have a part of their body they're not 100% happy with. Depending on where they need shaping and the level of control they desire will depend on what shapewear garments they should use.


Choice depends on the outfit they want a solution for.


It is important to have the correct foundation under your clothing, just as it is to choose the right colour foundation for your make-up! Choosing the right garment will give the right look as well as the most comfort. 


Do you have any tips to ensure our readers pick the right garment for them?


There is no need to fight your body, the sooner you accept your individual shape and size, the sooner you can embrace the styles that will flatter you and make you look and feel great, all with a little help from Jockey Shapewear.


For many of us, the term shapewear conjures up images of Bridget Jones type horror stories – are men going to run in the other direction if they catch you in your 'concrete knickers'?


Jockey Shapewear is designed to be simple, contemporary and truly flattering in easy wear black and skin options. New Zealander's love their black as it's easy to wear, and looks smart and slimming. Skin tones are also clever, as they disappear under clothing or go unnoticed if do happen to show (Sienna Miller recently looked gorgeous in black waist high briefs under a sheer dress)


Besides, if Bridget Jones didn't have the confidence her shapewear gave her, would she have got the man?


Who is your favourite New Zealand designers and who/what are your influences?


There are not many local lingerie brands, but I love local Christchurch-based label "Liberty" for contemporary thermal wear.


New Zealander Kay Cohen's lingerie label “Pleasure State" is really inspiring as is her career, and "Willow" is a favourite also for both outerwear and lingerie. These are both Sydney based labels, as I lived in Sydney for a few years have been quite influenced by Australian fashion.


Womenswear is as much an influence for me with favourites including Ricochet, Kate Sylvester, NomD.

Other influences include art, graphic design, music and street, people watching, travelling and NZ culture; and of course the role of modern feminism and the way a women should be made to feel everyday.


What is your favourite item of clothing?


A vintage military-style corset I acquired in Sydney, its tan colour with lacing all over and clips, hooks and buckles means its functionality made truly fashionable!


At the top of my drawer is Jockey Shapewear's new 1950s booster bra cami, supportive, slick and plunging, its shapewear I want to be seen in!


What has been you biggest fashion mistake?


I've made loads of mistakes, but really they are only when I try to work against my body shape. I'm a curvy girl, and I'm learning to embrace it!