Monday, December 7, 2015

How to Change the Lingerie Industry

There are undoubtedly bra styles missing across every size and shape range. I've written about the full bust bras I wish were available and there are lots of people who need sizes and styles not readily available. I recently saw an online petition asking full bust brands like Panache and Bravissimo to manufacture 24 and 26 band sizes. Small band sizes are desperately needed for so many people, especially young girls who need bra support from an early age.

Unfortunately, petitioning manufactures for change is not going to bring about lasting and effective change. Why? Because manufacturers rely on retailers to buy sizes that they make and retailers will only buy sizes if their customers spend money on those sizes and consumers can only demand those sizes when they're educated about bra fit. This is a vicious cycle that can only be tackled with education and consumer dollars.

If anyone measures over your boobs like this then run for the hills, they have no idea what they're doing.

Five years ago when I started writing about bra fit the majority of retailers were still trotting out the +4 method of bra fitting which doesn't work for most women. Since then there has definitely been a shift in more retailers educating themselves about the availability of 28-32 band sizes and cup volumes over a DD. But (and it's a big but) there are still thousands of stores in North America that don't carry bands below a 34 or 32 band and don't carry cup volumes over a DD cup. These stores will still fit women into bras that basically don't fit them. These stores will NEVER buy a 24 or 26 band to sell in their store until a shift happens in their customer demand which prompts them to get better educated about bra fit and sizes. I know it's backwards that the 'professionals' need to be incentivized to be better, but that's the reality.

I would hazard a guess that most women in North America don't know that they should be wearing a band size close to their ribcage measurement or that cup letters over a DD exist and would give them a better fit. Butterfly Collection has been part of the wave of bra educators dedicated to bringing bra size liberation and education to women in North America along with groups like Reddit's abrathatfits, online services like Bratabase and bloggers like Sweet Nothings. This movement is really only in its infancy compared to decades of unchallenged bra fitting techniques that have left generations of women in the wrong fit. Educating consumers about the bra fit they need and deserve is the first step in bringing about the change in demand that uneducated bra retailers need in order to change their buying habits.

If a store's customers never know that they need a wider range of sizes then they'll never ask for them, the store will never order them and the manufacturer will never be able to produce them.

In order to bring about real change in the lingerie industry I think we need to apply more pressure to the retailers than to the manufacturers. If you are an educated bra consumer who wants change then speak to the retailers you deal with and tell them about the size you need. Then tell your friends to demand better service from their bra retailers if they're being given poor service (telltale signs of bad retailers can be found here). We have to stop spending money on bras that don't fit us in order to prompt retailer awareness and urgency.

Change is definitely possible but I think we have to affect that change at a more grassroots level of the bra industry. The consumer has ultimate power once they know what bras are best for them. When I first started blogging a large and well established retailers got in touch with me to say that I should stop giving out free fitting advice because only bra fitters should have that knowledge. I wholeheartedly disagreed because keeping consumers in the dark about their own bra fit is what allows lazy retailers to get away with selling a fraction of bra sizes. Let's not allow that to continue for another generation. xx