The bra is dead, long live the sports bra!

Emmaline Vaughan Ronson

Intro by Ruth Kelly, Materials Editor, ruth@ssachs.co

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as I survivor myself, I’m fascinated with the relationship between good bra design, comfort and health. This is especially true when it comes to being active.

In her latest article for SSACHS, Emmaline Vaughan Ronson takes us through recent trends in bra design, some of her favourite bras, and thoughts on how they could be improved to be even greater. I also sneaked in a favourite of my own!

Will the humble bra be left in lockdown for good?

Whilst the world has been in lockdown and no one has been watching (certainly from the neck down anyway) women have been capitalising on their liberties where they can find them. 

Bosoms have been released from their social shackles and fifty-some years on, the under current of bra emancipation seems to have gained new traction.  The pandemic has forged a new set of parameters for bra wearing and it’s solely driven by practicality and comfort.

It has also drawn into sharp focus the need to be active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Not only as our first defence against Covid-19 but also to build resilience in our mental wellbeing.

Whilst I continued to run regularly throughout lockdown, I saw a huge flex in the number of people taking to the great outdoors.  Walkers, cyclists and joggers were all appreciating their golden power-hour of freedom.

Bosoms have been released from their social shackles

In addition to this, indoor routines have continued to level up too.  As we stretch to fit around our new ‘home-work-exercise’ lifestyles, women need their undergarments to do the same.  The convenience of a HITT session or pulling up your preferred Yogi on You Tube, all slot seamlessly between e-mails and Zoom meetings. 

Simply put our bras need to step up to the plate and meet this continued demand head on.  So what is in the market place right now?

GYMSHARK

They are one of the hotly talked about brands with the Athleisure movement firmly at their feet.

From their vast sports bra collection I’m drawn to their recent Vital Rise Sports bra addition.  This is a simple pull on seamless top with the bonus of being seam free so all-day comfort is a given.

It has a solid racer back shape along with a more delicate strappy layer over the top that provides more finesse than a straight blocky sports top.

I would love to see this brand advance to the next level in sports bra engineering. They would be in prime position to master the complete crossover bra package.

BRAVISSIMO

For some women their bosoms will not be happy unless they’re in a more traditional bra shaped cut and sew construction.

Bravissimo’s Atlas Non-Wired Sports Bra runs from D to J cups and offers the support most fuller-busted women will be looking for.  

Pleasingly, as the name suggests, it doesn’t have any wires and along with padded straps, it’s fully adjustable like a conventional bra.  Racer back adaptability is another tick in the multi-functional box.

Possibly not intentional but the more conservative under band depth is a bonus for prolonged wear.  When jumping from workout to desk it won’t tourniquet your midriff while sifting through the e-mails.

To really seal the deal on this style it could have strap adjustability at the front.  This would allow tension in the straps to be moderated post exercise without having to take it off.  Some alternative colour options (only black currently) could also elevate this bra as a true sports top come t-shirt bra.

KIHT

If you wanted to feel utterly smug with a sports bra choice then sustainable brand Kiht are the one to watch.

Comfort is definitely at the heart of their range. The Claudia Crop has plenty of perforated panels for airflow; all seams are bound and they offer removable padded cups as well.

Their sustainable and ethical approach makes them the ultimate crossover bra choice.  So while you run through your sun salutations you can be secure in the knowledge that their ethos is holistic as well. 

I look forward to seeing if they pull out a higher impact top from their gym bag.

BROOKS

Where the morning run needs to be tagged onto a full working day then Brooks have a great selection in performance driven sports bras.

The appeal of the Dare Crossback Run Bra finds its multi-functional mark seamlessly.  It harnesses quick drying material tech, moulded cup capacity; laser cut edges and is an easy pull on style with a supportive cross over back. 

It could happily spend all day as a t-shirt bra-, barely visible, breathable and comfortable.  Then when the outdoors is calling it transforms into a support driven piece of running kit without a second glance.

All of this considerate design makes this bra much like a second skin.  Their bras are ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ so more of the same with deeper focus on our fuller breasted tribe would put them top of the sports bra table.

MINDD (by Ruth Kelly)

Described as a “bra baby” founder Helena Kaylin, built a bra that is combination or her favourite sports bra and most beautiful special occasion bra. But it’s more than that.

Just a few months before she launched MINDD, Helena learnt her big sister Jo had STAGE 4 metastatic breast cancer. Jo, would not let her stop moving forward and she became the first production garment wear tester after her multiple procedures. To this day it is the only bra she wears. 

The MINDD mission to support women with wire-free technology became even more important.

I personally love the Mid V Wirefree Lined Bra. It uses warp knit seamless technology, and is designed for the D plus user. It is both beautiful and supportive – with a clever knitted inner cup liner. It’s the low impact bra I’ve been searching for for years!

Here’s the review I wrote on their website :

I love love love this bra!!! Its pretty and super comfy, while keeping the girls under control. No marking or soreness at the end of the day. I actually didn’t want to take it off for bed!
The built in patterns means the bra is super breathable and although not sold as sports bra – I did yoga in mine and it was just perfect!
Colour was great as well – just like the images.

How would I like to see it improved? I’d love to see some performance technology added eg anti stink, and some improvements and innovation on the straps.

MINDD is giving $5 for every bra sold in October to support women undergoing treatment, breast health & education. 

THE TAKEAWAYS

Sports bras are designed with support, comfort and performance top of mind. The pandemic has forged a new set of parameters for bra wearing and it’s solely driven by practicality and comfort.

Now however, in our burgeoning new lifestyle, women are chalking these up as non-negotiable in their ‘every day’ bra expectations too.  So why would women look any further than a sports bra? 

Taking a broader view of the Sportswear and Athleisure arena, it’s clear this market has keyed into the value consumers place on comfort fused with style.  

Sports bras can herald in a new era of bra wearing

So from a construction angle, how do we encourage sports bras to reign supreme as the everyday bra of choice? 

There are a few factors that could prove pivotal for its long game.

  1. MATERIALS

Performance materials come with a menu of technology. Antibacterial, anti-odour, moisture wicking and breathable technologies are just a few of the very innovative fabrics in the market place. They have the total ability to flex to all conditions the body can subjected it to.

Photo Credit : SSACHS

This above all else has to be high on the list in order to convince women to trust a bra that can function for all activities.

2. FLEX

Opportunity for more ‘on the body’ adjustment is still needed.  Our skin and blood vessels undergo huge expansion and contraction when we exercise. Being able to loosen straps, under bands and more post workout would help make a garment stand out from the crowd.

In the same way creating garments that don’t rely on heavy banding for support is important.  These components don’t yield or relax well with our bodies (just tend to curl or ride-up) when we decide to settle down for a few hours of pre-run work. 

3. WIRES

No wires please!

There is more than enough to be gained in support and performance from the right shaping and material choice.  Plus it feels only right to our Sixties sisters to ditch it in favour of a more natural breast positioning.

Sports bras can herald in a new era of bra wearing.  A freedom for women to choose a garment that responds intuitively to their lifestyle demands and respects their bosoms in the process. 

Hail the sports bra and remember to check those boobs!

Ruth going through treatment

Emmaline is a designer and product developer in the field of intimate apparel for almost 25 years,  In particular her career has focused on garment construction, manufacture and development.   She feels strongly about passing on this experience to others, either within our industry or to newcomers embarking on their own journey.

emmaline@source-lingerie.com

www.source-lingerie.com