Bras: History, Social Perception, Manufacturing & Future
Nowadays, most women use the word bra without knowing its origin. Even though bras are very modern items combining various technologies and materials, they existed for quite a while. In fact, this word originates from the brassiere, a term that has been forgotten in time. Luckily for you, we are here to revive it and bring it into the light!
The bra is a product meant to cover the female breast area. Unlike some other clothing items, it is very important for this item to fit perfectly. Otherwise, a woman may feel lots of discomforts or her breast area may look unflattering. Although women are able to function without it, the product has various purposes: it improves the look of breasts, it may look fashionable, or it may simply cover nipples. They can even be used for exercising (although there are more advanced products that this). In a way, it is an all-in-one product meant to assist with breast and breast-related issues.
This concept has been adopted by the entire fashion industry and companies have started using it for other products as well. Camisoles, various dresses, and swimsuit rely on a similar support system. Women can also purchase a nursing bra which is meant to simplify breastfeeding. Lastly, it needs to be mentioned that bras can be used for medical purposes. Just image how much the fashion industry has progressed to create such a multifunctional item! Still, keep in mind that the prolonged use of bra cannot affect the future shape of breast nor can it mold them.
Social perception of bras
The bra is a quite fascinating item probably due to its impact on breast, area of the female body that has always been sexualized. Its importance has excided mere functionality. The product has changed significantly over the decades and today, due to globalization and exceedingly needy consumers, we can find various options on the market. The item is closely connected to the social perception of the body: in societies where large breast and open cleavage are desirable, there will be a big emphasis on wearing this product. But, it can also be used to downplay them which is its biggest charm.
But besides its impact on the opposite sex, the product has been an important symbol for female rights activists. During female rights’ struggle, activists shun away from traditional corsets and embraced bras as a new solution. Still, a lot of members of the movement had issues with the item. Even though it was a step forward compared to some other restrictive fashion outfits, society still had certain expectation from women in terms of dress codes and what woman as a being should represent. It was indeed a rough time for females and we're glad this period is behind us. So, although it brought about a significant change, it was eventually scrutinized as just another female product meant to sexualize women. For example, products such as corsets were burned during the 1870s while bras were being burned during 1960s. However, unlike corsets, the bras are still very popular among women and persist up to this day. We also have to mention that this product actually has some functional traits that make it a must-have part of your wardrobe.
Regardless of this pushback, the items such as this remained popular among women as they gave them confidence, made them look more attractive, wanted and were also a fashion statement at the same time.
Manufacturing of bras
While these items may look skimpy and even rudimentary, there are lots of parts that are included during the manufacturing process. One of the biggest issues with the product is the fact that the human body is not symmetric so creating a perfect bra is really hard. Furthermore, the item is meant to fit the body perfectly without causing any discomfort. The item was meant to be form-fitting which is virtually impossible due to various shapes breast may take. They can vary in terms of sagging, weight, height, volume and position which made manufacturing that much harder.
For these reasons, this is one of the most complex items to create. It can have anywhere from 20 to 50 parts which include gore, cup, apex, underwire, bad, strap, ring, strap join, closure and so on. There is lots of science behind creating them. It is very important for a bra to fit perfectly a certain type of body. Otherwise, there is no point in manufacturing them. In fact, it is one of the rare fashion products which you would still rather buy in a store than purchase online.
Everything starts with a chest band. This part is crucial for support and goes around the torso. On top of it, two cups will be placed, each for one breast. After that, two shoulder straps will connect all of it. In order to place a bra, it needs to be clipped. There are several approaches to this as chest band can be hooked or fastened either in front or in the back. However, this is primarily for traditional bras. Some models such as athletic bras are simply pulled over and there are women who prefer wearing them to classic ones as they provide much more comfort. Oftentimes it comes down to personal preference though. Keep in mind that some women are prepared to sacrifice a lot just so they can look attractive in the public.
Today, computers have a big impact on the manufacturing of bras. For example, lasers may be used for cutting layers of materials that will be according to a company’s specification. This ensures high precision during manufacturing preventing any mismeasurements. Still, that doesn’t mean that a specific type of a bra will fit specific breasts as there are too many variables for measuring. All these elements are assembled by workers so, there is obviously some manual labor involved as well.
In terms of materials, there is also a big diversity there. This doesn't come as a surprise given how old this product is and the fact that the fashion companies had time to experiment with various materials. Initially, they were made by using things such as linen, cotton, twill weaves, and sewn as the most important elements. Due to technological advancement, there are much more materials at our disposal and thus, much more experimenting with these products.
Future of the bras
Even though the fashion industry has never been stronger, there are some struggles with this specific product.
As previously mentioned, the bra has often been observed as a type of restriction. It is an item that partially caters to males and may also objectify a woman. Thus, there is a bigger and bigger pushback within the general public. This is especially noticeable in the western world. Unless they need it for medical purposes, many women are more satisfied with not wearing it at all. Of course, this also depends on the type of breasts as some women require this type of support.
But even though we tend to place emphasis on comfort, bras are undeniably trendy. There are a lot of women who simply like wearing them regardless of the consequences. Some women simply have to wear them. No matter what, there are pros and cons to this product and the best way to decide whether you like them or not, is to wear them for prolonged periods of time.
We have to remind you that at one point in time, corsets were the most elegant, fashionable pieces in the world. This quickly changed as women were no longer willing to wear them. Will something similar happen to bras? We have to wait and see!