Think outside the bra: Top startups reshaping women’s underwear
Emerging bra startups are challenging the status quo in women’s undergarments by addressing the issues that women encounter but have had no solutions for. These solutions range from skin-toned bras, shape-shifting bras that change with women’s breast size and no-strap, no-clasp bras.
Every woman, regardless of bra and cup size, faces a set of bra-related challenges, the most common being incorrect sizing. This causes a plethora of uncomfortable situations. Bra-cup problems include falling out at the bottom of the bra, uneven breasts, wrinkled or gaping cups, painful underwires and insufficient support. Another bra-cup phenomenon that plagues women is the “quad boob” or “avocado boob”, which is the bump that spills out from the top or side of your bra, causing the wearer to have four unsightly breasts bumps.
Bra-band problems include the center of the bra not lying flat against the chest, causing regular shifting and improper support, bands digging into your sides and bands riding up your back. Finally, there are bra-strap problems that cause straps to constantly slip off shoulders, shoulder pain and shoulder digging.
Innovative bra startups
No one understands the challenges of women as well as other women. Up-and-coming women’s underwear companies are attempting to blend comfort and functionality with aesthetics. They are incentivised by decades of challenged women to create more inclusive size ranges, innovative styles that allow for versatile dressing, transparency in production and robustly using customer feedback as their main production guide.
Some of these companies are Proclaim, which makes “perfect nude” bras for all skin tones out of recycled water bottles and was launched in 2017. For founder Shobha Philips, 35, success is when people refer to something as ‘nude’ when it is brown: “Nude literally means ‘like skin tone’, and this would mean they understand what the context of the colour is,” she told Ozy.com.
Pepper, founded in 2017, specialises in bras for smaller cup sizes. Founder Jaclyn Fu conceived the idea for #smallsquad bras after struggling with bras for 15 frustrating years. “I wanted one that fit me and flattered what I have, rather than fit me in a mold,” she says.
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Knix is a company that makes soft, multi-task friendly bras, tanks, underwear and accessories. It is best known for two standout inventions: The first is the Evolution Bra, which can do it all: It is reversible, high performance, can be worn eight different ways and is made out of antimicrobial, quick-drying, moisture-wicking materials without wires. The second is its leakproof line: underwear that promises to work as a replacement product or as a backup (it offers different levels of absorption) when you have your period.
ThirdLove launched in 2013, with the focus on half-cup sizes and an accompanying 100% fit guarantee. The company has spent more than a year adding 24 new bra sizes to their line, reaching a total of 70 options. This is well above the industry average of 30.
True & Co launched in 2012 with the bold promise that their bras provide lift and ultimate comfort without wires for the perfect “weekday warrior” bra. Their garments are seamless, cloud-soft wireless bras that seem to break all the rules of lingerie by giving more coverage or lift as a traditional bra, without the discomfort.
Trusst Lingerie is a company founded primarily around support for full-busted women (Cup size D and up). CEO and founder Sophia Berman swapped underwire by using her background in design and engineering to implement a patented 3D-printed bra core known as the BAST — Breast Advanced Support Technology. Her technology redistributes breast weight and provides lift as the molded cups have support sewn right into them, while the antimicrobial wicking lining provides all-day comfort. In addition, the straps are cushioned with foam for added comfort.
Misses Kisses launched backless, frontless, strapless, almost one-size-fits-all bras (in cup sizes B to G). The style is unlike anything in the market. Reviews suggest that you imagine an oversized pair of headphones turned upside down, cupping the breasts. The pressure from the connecting wire pushes the breasts together and up, boosting cleavage while staying invisible under camisoles and plunging necklines “I know it’s not the biggest problem in the world, but it made me unhappy,” said founder Amanda Marie Harris. “We’ve been wearing the same design for over a century – it is time to think outside the bra.”
House of Anesi is a Toronto-based startup that has designed bras that changes shape based on the wearer’s changing breasts. The bra adapts up to two cup sizes and two band sizes to fit a woman’s ever-changing breasts every day of the month and is available to fit 98 sizes.
“We decided to tackle bra design, creating a bra that would adapt to a woman’s breast-size changes and be 10 times more comfortable. We ended up winning the competition. Afterwards, we couldn’t let it go: Why wasn’t there a bra on the market that actually adapted to women’s bodies as they change? We decided to make it happen,” the company’s website states.
Speaking about this new wave in underwear design, venture capitalist Olivia Moore told Ozy.com, “These companies seem niche but they can pretty easily scale to a million or 10 million. Women in their twenties are coming into real purchasing power and are looking for something new.”
“People are waking up and realising that half the population wears a bra every day. A rising generation of consumers want to shop in another way.”
She also credits the growth in female investors and social media influencers as key to many of these companies’ success. Hopefully the wave will gain traction and comfortable, functional and inclusive under garments for women will become a staple.