The SimpleBra Story

SimpleBra was created out of a need for comfort and style.

My first bra was lime green and white, cotton, wirefree, with thin straps and light padding. I wore that bra everyday until it started to fall apart and my mother insisted that I go get myself something better. It was with a heavy heart (literally) that I wore my favorite bra for the last time before throwing it in the garbage (conventional wisdom did not favor a bra burial).

Goodbye, old friend.

Goodbye, old friend.

Being of moderate cuppage, I wore the same wirefree style for the next several years, even after I moved to San Francisco to go to art school at age 18. I was a poor student who had to convert rupees to dollars for every purchase, and therefore continued to buy my clothes and bras each time I traveled back home. 

I discovered new colors and patterns each time I went to that store in the basement of a mall on Commercial street, Bangalore. I was like a kid in a candy store, buying way more bras than I would ever need. One year, I brought back bras for my friends, and had repeat requests from several of them - this style was so hard to find in the US.

Soon, my body started to change, and the supply of these bras started to dwindle at the same time. I resigned myself to "grown-up bras", and went on a shopping trip to that famous bra store that everyone has heard of. I was sized and fitted by a store attendant and picked a style that I liked in a neutral color, paid for it, and walked out with a tiny pink and white striped bag. That wasn't so bad, I thought.

There's a special type of buyers' remorse that is reserved for when your clothes start to attack you. That bra I purchased was tight, pushed up too much and dug into my rib cage. I took it off after the first day to find deep red marks under the band. I was mildly disturbed but thought, hey this is what everyone else is wearing so it can't be that bad.

Things worsened over the next few weeks. The bra started to lose shape after a few washes and then one day I felt something sharp stab me in the armpit. I ran into the bathroom to inspect - the wire of the bra had poked through and was sticking it's plastic covered head out of the fabric. Luckily, the makers of these curved wires had had the foresight to dip the sharp end of the metal into some type of rubbery goo that coated the otherwise lethal protrusion. I took off the bra, and pulled the wire out. I found a pair of scissors and snipped the edge of the other cup, removing that wire as well. Put the bra back on and breathed a sigh of relief - it was already so much more comfortable. I did this for several other bras that I purchased, removing the wires as soon as I got home along with the price tags. It worked surprisingly well.

This seems to be a common problem...

This seems to be a common problem...

There was still the issue of the heavily padded push-up cups. These cups made me look much larger, which I thought was completely unnecessary. I was perfectly happy with my natural size!

Fast forward to summer 2012. I was in London during one of its hottest summer days, and I ventured out to look for some summer clothes and a light wirefree bra. I went from store to store, surprised to find either push-up wired bras that I come to fear, or unlined bralettes that offered no coverage or support. I chalked it up to local taste. 

After returning to San Francisco, I continued my quest for a comfortable wirefree bra. I went to about 30 different stores and websites, ordered about 100 bras in total, and didn't find a single one that fit my needs. I did some research  and discovered that wired and push-up bras make up most of the market (70% according to Wikipedia). So I decided to design and make one myself.

I'm a UI designer, and don't know the first thing about manufacturing clothing. So I decided to educate myself, and took a 3-day apparel production seminar at Apparel Arts in San Francisco. There I learned about the entire process of producing a garment: sketching, design, technical drawing, grading, prototypes and final production. It was a great learning experience and I set out to find factories that would help me manufacture this bra. I called a couple of local factories only to be quoted astronomical prices. Turns out that a bra is one of the most complex garments you can make: it consists of 8-10 different pieces that need to be made in several sizes. 

All the different components that we had to size. 

All the different components that we had to size. 

I simplified the sizing to just 4 sizes based on clothing sizes, and I broadened my search to India and China. I got advice from a  couple of fashion designer friends that China was the place to go for lingerie production. Not knowing where to start, I searched Alibaba for wirefree bras and contacted a few manufacturers. I Skyped with a  couple of them, only to realize that the language barrier was too great. In parallel, I posted on a manufacturing group on LinkedIn and was contacted by an agent based in Hong Kong, an Australian man named Doug who had been in this business for the past 20 years.

Doug always makes me laugh.

Doug always makes me laugh.

I sent Doug a sketch of what I wanted, and had my first samples in a  few weeks. This project was becoming a reality! We went back and forth a couple of times to get the prototypes just right, and then there was the question of fabric. I started researching popular prints, and settled on the galaxy print - perfect for the first bra, symbolizing the big bang that led to the creation of the universe. I found an image of the Carina nebula from the European Southern Observatory and got permission to use it to print on fabric. 

Galaxy print on repeat to create a seamless pattern.

Galaxy print on repeat to create a seamless pattern.

We got custom fabric printed, finalized the sizing and grading, signed off on samples and began production early 2014. My shipment finally arrived a couple of weeks ago, nearly 2 years after I first thought of the idea. 

SimpleBra is lightly padded and wirefree.  It is made with lightweight fabric that is 95% rayon, 5% spandex, and can be easily washed by hand and dries in a few hours. 

I'm so happy to share this with you today. I've been wearing a SimpleBra for the past 6 months and it is the most comfortable bra I've ever owned. I hope it's something that works for you as well, and I look forward to hearing feedback and suggestions from you!

Here's to being comfortable always,

Madhavi