When I wondered last week whether there was some kind of sports-bra mania going on, apparently I was missing the forest for the trees. There is actually total bra mania going on, according to a piece titled "Bra Marketing Business Busts Out All Over" in today's Advertising Age. "As the $5.2 billion bra business seeks to maintain its 6%-plus growth trajectory," Ad Age's Stephanie Thompson rather breathlessly reports, "top brands including Playtex, Victoria's Secret, Maidenform and Olga are all innovating beyond traditional parameters." (That last bit of promotion-speak allegedly translates to "technological improvements that promise conformity, moisture resistance, real comfort and even fashion for the full-figured gal.")
Coming a little late to the party, bra retailers say "there is special focus these days on the long-suffering, larger-busted bra wearers, among whom sales are up nearly double that of smaller-breasted women." That this is news to manufacturers kind of confounds me. Doesn't it stand to reason that women who can opt to go braless, and whose lighter endowment inflicts less wear and tear on their boulder-holders, might buy fewer bras than those who wouldn't consider brushing their teeth, much less leaving the house, without a bra on?
But anyway. If bra companies are making better bras -- especially relatively inexpensive ones -- I will do a happy dance. So far, though, this development sounds more like a case of bra manufacturers seeking to brand themselves as supportive, sexy and technologically sophisticated; they may or may not actually be "innovating beyond traditional parameters." While manufacturers work to boost their bottom lines, the rest of us should probably continue to assume that all bras aren't created equal (fie on thee, Victoria's Secret). For an entertaining and handy guide to bra selection, check out this vintage gem from Salon Mothers Who Think, which Broadsheet's own Lori Leibovich wrote back in 1997.