A lot of women feel that a soft cup bra won't offer them the support they need or are used to. I can understand where this idea has come from, I have been a lingerie designer for 16 years and in most brands I have worked on, a soft cup bra isn’t given the same level of thought as a wired bra. They can be very basic, designed as a functional bra for sports etc or pretty and delicate with little structure and support. Videris creates soft cup bras where every single element is considered and expertly designed with purpose, intention, and your comfort in mind.
So what goes into making a soft-cup bra that is both supportive and comfortable? Well, with over 15 individual components and up to 10 different pattern pieces - a lot.
In my first graduate lingerie job I was trained to not only design bras but to pattern cut and work with a sample machinist on the first prototype samples. This knowledge of how a pattern goes together and the various pieces needed to create support and comfort is always in my mind when I am sketching.
I never design something that I don’t know how it will be constructed. I think that this way of designing really informs my aesthetic which is to design something that looks simple and effortless but actually has clever pattern cutting or design features to ensure it is functional. I really think about every component and detail as these ultimately inform the fit and quality of the garment, especially in a bra.
For a bra to fit well and feel balanced and comfortable on the body you need to use the correct modulus (strength) of elastic at the underband, underarm and neckline. All elastics are not created equal and they are a component I am incredibly fussy about. I use one of the best suppliers and whilst it would be easier to use one elastic throughout the garment this would compromise the fit. A lot of soft cup bras only use the one size elastic in all areas of the garment for ease and cost and I believe this has added to the perception that soft cup bras are not supportive.
The underband is the most important, it needs to be the widest and the strongest elastic to anchor the garment, I use a 10mm wide elastic on sizes XS-M and a 12mm on L-XL. Secondary importance is the underarm, this needs to be supportive but not too strong and snappy, you don't want it to feel like the underarm is cutting in, I use an 8mm on sizes XS-M and 10mm on L-XL, this elastic is slightly softer and stretchier than the underband elastic. The neckline needs a small amount of support to hold the fit and the shape of the garment but wants to be soft enough to allow the shape of the bust to inform the fit, I use a 6mm on sizes XS-M and 8mm on L-XL.
Lastly, a good quality strap elastic is critical, I have many women asking about straps falling down, essentially this is because the strap elastic is not a good quality and is stretching out and possibly the hardware is also inferior and not holding the strap in place. I would never buy a bra that didn't have adjustable straps, nothing drives me crazier than a strap that isn't doing its job, the whole fit of the bra relies on a good quality strap. Again I grade the straps up by 2mm from M-L, this includes the strap elastic, rings and sliders.
Grading an elastic by 2mm may sound like a small amount but in the world of elastics it makes a huge difference and gives the right amount of support to each size. In total across our bra size range this adds up to 8 different elastics and 4 different hardware components. For a brand that manufactures on a smaller responsible scale this does add extra surcharges to our product but it is not a detail I would compromise on. For us to increase our size range in the future all these components would need to grade up again.
This attention to detail is not just for bras. On our knickers the waist needs a firmer fit, I use an 8mm knicker modulus elastic at the waist but a 6mm on the leg which like the neckline of the bra does not need to be as firm and needs to allow the body to shape the fit. These elastics are softer than the bra elastics of the same size.
Inside our bras I have a powermesh lining the underbust cradle and the back wing. This is the only part of the bra that uses a synthetic material but it is necessary to give support and strength to the areas under the most amount or strain and to ensure longevity of the bra. An unlined back wing on the bra would have the bra stretching out of shape very quickly. There is also a stabilizer on the side seam where the wing attaches to the cup to prevent the side from collapsing.
CLOSURES AND HARDWARE
The bra closure is where most people have had a poor experience with soft cup bras. Most soft cup bras skip this component all together which means you have to pull the bra over your head. This completely stretches the bra out over time, it also means that bra only caters to one underband measurement. I use a traditional bra hook and eye closure with 3 rows of hooks for flexibility in the underband fit, it allows there to be a 5cm underband tolerance as well as catering for your personal preference on how firm or loose you prefer your underband.
Good quality sliders used on the straps are essential to keep the preferred adjustment in place, I use a ring to attach the strap to the back wing which allows for the strap to move and sit where it feels most right for your shoulders.
Brand and care labels made of soft recycled polyester yarn are essential to avoid an itchy scratchy feeling from the tags.
These are the individual elements that come together to create the Videris bras, every one of these components carries the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 which ensures it is free from harmful chemicals and substances. More about this in my next post!