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What we learned from 3 years of bra engineering, and what's next (bratheory.com)
409 points by hazelynut on Dec 4, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 225 comments

This seems like a good time to mention the history of the Apollo space suits, which were made for the manliest of men in the highly gender normed 1950's by the largest corset and bra maker in the country. Why? Because bras and girdles require incredibly high skill design and fabrication engineering, as bra theory is discovering and as no other garment manufacturer of the day could equal.

[0] http://mentalfloss.com/article/82726/how-playtex-helped-win-...

I highly recommend the book:

Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monchaux

>How the twenty-one-layer Apollo spacesuit, made by Playtex, was a triumph of intimacy over engineering.


It has an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Playtex succeeded where other contractors failed, how they were almost cut out of the deal anyway, and ended up being awarded the contract as a subcontractor to another company that was able to provide the necessary government-compliant documentation.

That sounds really interesting, but Google says that ILC Dover had become it's own division in the later 1940s and was already into aerospace before Apollo came along. So ... was it really Playtex switching from bras to space suits, or is that just click bait because the only real involvement of Playtex is as the legal owner of the division?

The GP actually left out the critical portion of the story.

The reason Playtex built the space suits because they were the ones who came up with the idea of a cloth spacesuit.

Building a space suit is tricky because you are pressurized over the environment; if you just sewed a simple air-proof garment it would inflate and it would be difficult to bend your arms and legs to move around in space. Most companies bidding on building a spacesuit were proposing designs similar to deep sea suits, which are rigid metal and plastic with complicated joints to allow it to bend and move while maintaining a constant volume.

Playtex was able to design a constant-volume air-tight suit out of layers and layers (like 17) of different types of fabric; this was directly related to their core competencies.

It was the same expertise of the company that made bras. Playtex didn't own ILC Dover because of some financial engineering, but because of a shared core competency in materials engineering and manufacturing.

Specialty garmet and textile work is a skilled trade that requires time to mature. There’s more synergy than you might think!

That’s fascinating, but makes sense! Considering how unique everyone’s bodies, and especially breasts can be, it’s amazing that mass produced even gets to “almost good enough”; I can’t wish Bra Theory enough luck!

There's a really good point in here that I had to learn the hard way: one of a founder's most valuable assets is a deep understanding of the customer's problem(s) and how to solve them.

The tech is far less important.

She first tried a naive tech-focused approach and realized that she didn't understand the problem well enough and making adjustments to the tech was slowing her learning down too much.

She made a great decision to optimize for learning speed and temporarily build a more traditional custom-fit bra business. She has learned a lot about the problem space and what makes a good solution.

Now she's using technology as a tool to enhance and optimize the process that already arrives at a good solution.

We do the same thing when we write code:

  1. understand the problem
  2. write a correct solution
  3. optimize the solution
When it comes to coding we know Knuth's Law of optimization by heart, but still make the same mistake in other contexts.

> one of a founder's most valuable assets is a deep understanding of the customer's problem(s) and how to solve them.

IMHO, it's the ONLY thing that matters - and like you, I too learned it the hard way. Optimizing for non-existent (or non-critical) problems is a very common mistake.

The failure mode here seems to be assuming that every business must be a "tech" business.

The many concerns in this thread (and their upvotes) about price (350$) are one of the best examples of the risks of gender imbalance in venture funding I've yet seen.

I suspect pretty much any woman in North America, regardless of ability to afford it, would see that as a totally rational price point.

And as someone who _can_ afford it, I'm seriously weighing a trip to NYC to be fitted.

Am I misunderstanding, are are you actually positing that nearly any American woman would think $350 is a rational price point for a bra?

Because that would be one of the best examples of the risk of wealth imbalance in our country that I've yet seen.

If they are driving a $60k car, yes.

Many women have hard to fit bras. My wife probably spends 2-3 hours per bra in acquisition time as inventory of odd sizes are tight and size fit varies dramatically. The cost would need to come down for her, but there’s definitely a market need.

"Pretty much any woman" does not drive a $60k car. $60k cars are for the wealthiest of the wealthy. The rest of us drive beaters or a slightly used car in the 5-20k range.

I mean, it's one banana, Michael... What could it cost? Ten dollars?

A median income female is buying a $15 bra at Walmart.

An upper middle class DINK/DIWK living in the burbs buys fancy stuff.

> A median income female is buying a $15 bra at Walmart.

I'm not even a woman myself, and I've known several median (and substantially below) income females to buy much more expensive bras at Lane Bryant and other places, and to express willingness to pay substantially more than that if they could find better fit.

Location on the income distribution may not be the key factor here; if the quality is there and they can scale this into an operation that is local across the country, even at the $350 price point, there's a decent size market.

Then why do I see a lot of lower income guys driving, bright shiny, pampered $65K pickup trucks? You don't live in a trailer and drive a $65K because you are the wealthiest of the wealthy.

Are you saying that only products affordable at median income are suitable for rational businesses? That premium products are irrational?

You've got to be kidding, right? I see people go into debt all the time to buy $60k cars, that they truly cannot afford.

…but that is not most people.

> "Pretty much any woman" does not drive a $60k car.

Yes, and the claim wasn't that any woman could afford a $350 bra but that they would see the price point as rational independent of whether they could afford it.

> 60k cars are for the wealthiest of the wealthy.

No, $200k+ cars are for the wealhiest of the wealthy. $60k cars are more targeting the modestly wealthy rather than the wealthiest of the wealthy.

I agree with you, rationally, that a $60k car driver should be happy to spend $350 for a proper fitting of something you wear every single day.

But leaving aside where on the bell curve of society a $60k car driver fits, I don't think rationality comes into play here. People have price points for various products, and even though $350 is a miniscule fraction of that $60k, if you're used to paying (say) $40, it can be hard to overcome that hurdle.

The example I used to make, back when computers were expensive, was that people didn't think twice about dropping $2k on a new desktop computer every 3 years, but expected the same $400 TV to last 20 years. There must be a term for this that I don't know, but there's some psychological bias in terms of what people spend money on based on perceived value, perceived use, and perceived market cost, and very little of it seems to have to do with what they can technically 'afford'.

A whole lot more goes into it than this, but a big part of what you're talking about has to do with price anchoring. (Which is in itself a subset of anchoring[0], as theorized by Daniel Kahneman).

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchoring

Thanks. I'll go to my local brewery and have a $6 beer and enjoy it. And not think twice about trying a few, then going home with a growler full, and suddenly I just paid $50.

But then I go to the grocery store and the $20 bottle of wine seems expensive.

I notice things like this every day.

I’m not a woman so it’s difficult to describe why, but I know that if you are a difficult to fit size, being able to reliably source a bra is worth a lot.

I’ll tell you from my perspective, I wear a size 14 shoe that is wide but not wide enough for a wide size. My dress shoes cost about $500, which is completely out of character for me.

When I find a sneaker/hiking boot that fits well, I’ll buy as many as I can find.

Have her check out https://reddit.com/r/abrathatfits for the measurement and fitting guides. She may end up ordering from UK vendors, but it will be worth it.

From what I (a man) understand, most women are wearing the wrong size.

I just searched this page to see if anyone had mentioned this subreddit. It is really useful. Follow the measurement guide carefully and look at recommendations of brands. I did so, ordered four styles, and had 2 solid wins, 1 ok, and one 'depends on the day'. That's way better than average.

For discussions of price in this thread, I consider a good bra a worthwhile luxury and will pay up to $100. For most of the bras I bought using the reddit guidance, I paid about $67 on sale. I will not pay more than $100 at this point; that just doesn't fit my priorities. Double my salary and I'd consider it.

That's why when my wife finds a bra that fits well she buys a ton of them so that she only needs to go bra shopping a few times a decade.

I do this with running shoes which can cost $80-$250 and last from 300-500 miles. $350 for a bra which lasts how long, years? doesn't seem terrible.

Bras don't last years. Setting aside the fact that bodies change faster than your feet do, the bra itself wears out by simple usage.

(I am rather shocked you get so little usage out of your running shoes though, are those race shoes or training shoes?)

I knew some runners in college that was putting so many miles on their shoes that they would have to get new ones every 2-3 weeks.

>If they are driving a $60k car, yes.

You realize federal minimum wage is $7.25 (and this is the minimum wage for many states) right? And that the median HOUSEHOLD income in the country is 59k, right?

My SO spent an amount roughly proportional to the respective GDPs per capita of the US and my country on a bra.

She bought two eventually. I think it was $70 a piece or so.

I wonder the same thing.

I'm not sure I agree with your second paragraph though. Could also just be an example of the risks with stupidity and ignorance.

I thought you might be right, so I did some polling on this product and got feedback like:

* “Bergner’s and Macy’s already can get a good fit. They have 15 cup sizes most people don’t know about”

* “I’d pay $150 for a custom fit if my size weren’t fluctuating”

* “If I have to travel, I can already get a really good bra in Paris, NY or London that look better”

* “Seems like it could be successful if enough women who don’t know their options hear about it”

These are aggregates of the most commonly expressed opinions. It seems like price might be a valid concern of women as well as men. I am sure that with enough press, this founder can succeed, but I don’t think I’d necessarily be biased if I thought it wasn’t competitive or disruptive enough. The qualities and connections of the founding team matter more than anything when the problem is that existing solutions aren’t popular enough to meet demand.

LOL I hope your representative American woman isn’t one familiar with the shopping in London, Paris, and NY.

Even if they are, maybe especially if they are, that only reinforces the point that $350ea might be a catastrophically too high price.

It all depends on how many you want to sell. You can certainly sell n $350 bras. https://darkestfox.com/products/claire-velvet-set?variant=41...

Something that wasn't clear to me, its $550 for one bra, but what does the second one cost? How about the next 10?

My father-in-law went to Italy and had some custom shoes made. It cost him a bit over $3,000 USD (air fare included). However, he could order a new pair of shoes (in any color of the available leathers) for $250 and they fit wonderfully every time. For his feet (size 13 and one slightly narrower than the other) it was an extravagance that really removed a lot of pain and agitation from his life. He was the first person I had met who had a need like this that was so far from the "standard" offerings that shoe shopping was a scourge.

Where did he get them done?

A place in Milan, he had read about the maker in one of his magazines. Sorry I don't have any more than that, it wasn't something I felt I was ever going to spend money on so I didn't pay much attention to the details. What stuck out was that it was initially expensive and then you could get additional shoes for a lot less.

There are a couple interesting shoe companies out there. Mephisto for example offers lifetime warranty on their shoes so if they become damaged or start to fail you can ship them in and they'll be repaired or replaced for free (or at least it used to be the case). Their shoes are otherwise fairly expensive compared to competitors, but that made up for the price since you'd basically have new shoes forever.

I'll echo the inquiry. I'm very much in this market and willing to pay these prices for shoes like this. If you can wrangle the name, I would also be very thankful.

> I suspect pretty much any woman in North America, regardless of ability to afford it, would see that as a totally rational price point.

That rationale seems a bit simplistic to me. I suspect that for many women in North America, the choice of spending $350 on a bra, or $100 on a bra + paying some bill on time, is a no-brainer.

A Tesla is much more expensive than a Prius, but I think the Tesla is set at a rational price point, even if I could never afford it. Being able to afford an item does not necessarily correlate with whether you think it's priced fairly or not.

> a no-brainer

you know how many people are poor, right?

Walmart doesn't fill shelves with $10-$20 bras because there's no market for them.

I think GP's point is that if a venture capitalist was paying for 90% of the actual cost (as with Uber) in order to grab market share, the price would be much more within reach.

> The many concerns in this thread (and their upvotes) about price (350$) are one of the best examples of the risks of gender imbalance in venture funding I've yet seen.

In a country where 62% of Americans don't even have $1000 in savings, and 21% of Americans don't even have bank accounts?

$350 is a super niche price for a bra.

It is definitely a premium price for a premium product, and absolutely out of reach of many. But that's the case for a great many custom and/or early adopter products.

It's not crazy. I regularly spend 80$+ for bras I don't like, and if I found one which worked with my wardrobe and truly fit comfortably, 350$ would not be a luxury purchase.

From the comments here I have the feeling that most guys don't understand the pain and point at all, even when we tell them again and again.

I know this might seem crazy, but some of us actually know women and can just ask them. My wife thinks $350 is insane for a bra. I have no doubt that you might gladly pay that, but it’s bizarre that you feel entitled to speak for half the global population.

That was not the point.

edit: The point was that many of the people in the thread don't seem to understand the magnitude and pervasiveness of the problem. What people are prepared to do and pay to alleviate it is another matter entirely, but accordingly it is probably not well estimated if the issue is not well recognized.

Actually, the point that I took from you and from DelaneyM was this:

"Men just don't get it. Practically any woman would think that $350 is totally reasonable for the perfect bra, and if you disagree it's because you're a man and you just won't listen to us!"

And my point was that, while I am a man, I do know some women, and your [1] assertion that all women would be happy to pay $350 for a bra is ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that it strikes me as a lot more out-of-touch with womens' views on a reasonable price for a bra than my views as a man on the subject. And to back this up, I asked a real-life-flesh-and-blood-woman, who literally responded with: "Oh fuck no! That's ridiculous!" Others in this thread reported similar things.

1. I recognize that you didn't make this specific claim, but your response to DelaneyM indicated that you agree that the men expressing skepticism is just further proof that they won't listen to you. But you seem to automatically assume that we aren't listening to other women. Perhaps a little humility is in order about how representative your views are to your entire gender.

How many do you listen to, and how often does this topic come up for you?

It's $350 for something that you wear every day. Any woman who has worn a $30 bra from Target will tell you how uncomfortable a budget bra can be.

I'm 30 and I would estimate that I've spent a few thousand dollars in my lifetime on bras that I've only worn once or twice because they just don't fit or wear correctly or they're so uncomfortable that they could be classified as an instrument of torture.

Women are willing to spend $100+/bra at Victoria's Secret and the quality isn't even particularly good (though it's miles better than Target). Victoria's Secret's main value to the customer is consistency. The product is consistently good, not great, but the sizes across all their products are far more consistent than any other store that sells bras. A good fit is the most important component to a comfortable bra. Victoria's Secret demonstrates that women are willing to pay a premium to be able to confidently buy a bra that will probably fit and won't be terribly uncomfortable.

Bratheory is offering women the ability to confidently buy a bra that will definitely fit and won't be uncomfortable. Is $350 a premium? Certainly. But not that much of a premium considering the value proposition for their customers.

Any woman who has worn a $30 bra from Target will tell you how uncomfortable a budget bra can be.

Not quite ANY woman.

Whether it is easy to get a bra that fits depends on the shape of the breasts. Women who have "teardrop breasts" can pick a random bra of roughly the right size and likely be happy. My wife does, and it wasn't until she was reading a site about bra fitting that she understood why she never has the problems that she hears other women complain about.

Given her luck, she has always just picked up cheap bras. Since that's going to work just fine, why pay a premium?

They dont:

[2015 pricing] https://www.bustle.com/articles/110110-how-much-should-bras-...

[2018 pricing] https://www.businessinsider.com/best-bra

Women do not buy bras at VS for a list price. They buy them on sale. 3 for $100. That's the price and that's the problem that VS has.

Source: filings of LBrands, firings of the CEO, LBrands missing the train of bralettes.

Nothing in that article you've linked to says anything about what you've asserted.

Also, Victoria's Secret doesn't do 3/$100 bra sales.

I linked pricings on the ranges, including the premium segment outside the boutique range. The super-special $350 bra is firmly in the boutique range which requires not just a fitting but a customer service of Saks, Barneys, La Perla boutiques or totally custom shops.

This, at most, is a Telsa 3, priced pretending that it plays in a Ferrari leagues. Musk may say so and so may Tesla fan boys, but even Musk is not pricing Tesla 3 at at $150K. If it is priced at $80, it would work for long enough for them to outsource manufacturing to China, India and Vietnam, which means that the $10 knock offs would be everywhere in 5 months [VS knock offs are in every Chinatown/Koreatown of every US city sold for 1/10th of VS prices. Half of them are probably made at the same factories that make VS originals].

VS certainly does 3 for a hundred if not more during the semi annual sales. The winter one is about to start now.

> The super-special $350 bra is firmly in the boutique range which requires not just a fitting but a customer service of Saks, Barneys, La Perla boutiques or totally custom shops.

If they have a better multidimensional fit model that actually provides better value, and they can get word of mouth on that to get people in the door, they can get away with less boutique treatment the same way that Tesla can get away with less fit and finish than other similarly priced luxury cars.

Just because they are in the same price range in the same broad descriptive category doesn't mean they are selling the same thing.

My wife said she wouldn't pay this, even if we could afford it. She said it would have to last 3 years.

I suspect (but don't know) that $100 at VS buys you some confidence/entitlement that it's okay to return if you don't like it, in a VERY different way than $30 at Target, which has much more of a "returning used undergarmets, REALLY?" vibe.

I think it's more that I'm less likely to need to return a Victoria's Secret bra. Like most garments, once the tags are off they can't be returned. The problem is a bra can "fit" in the dressing room when I try it on for five minutes but I don't really know how comfortable it is until the tags are off and it's been worn for the day. Either way I can't return it but I'm far less likely to end up with an uncomfortable bra from Victoria's Secret than I am from Target. Although it definitely does sting a bit more when I end up with a $100 Vicky's bra that turns out to be super uncomfortable. That's the gamble though I suppose.

Doesn’t the average woman own something like 10 bras? Sounds like a couple thousand to outfit yourself in these, and that’s definitely super niche.

That’s an average. How many women have far fewer than that?

A lot of women, especially those who are hard to fit, get by with just 1-3 everyday bras that they wear to death because it’s just so frustrating (or impossible) to find more bras that only hurt a little instead of being absolute torture devices.

They may have additional bras for special purposes (such as strapless) or that they can’t really wear to work (lounge bras and bralettes and sports bras and flimsy sexy things that you wear for a few minutes on the way to the bedroom).

But they wear those few primary bras every single day until they wear out.

If you spend all day every day being poked in sensitive tissue by the end of a metal stick, being able to add just one or two perfectly fitting and painless bras to your closet could be game changing.

Other women have no difficulty finding bras that are painless - but their breasts are shaped so differently from manufacturers’ assumptions that finding one that’s both painless and flattering at the same time is basically impossible.

Again, even replacing one quad-boob-creating bra with one that’s flattering but can be worn comfortably all day is a win, even if you’re not going to replace your whole collection.

Do you look at a new bespoke shirt or jacket offering and expect nobody to buy any because replacing their entire wardrobe would be prohibitive?

It's the ever-present question. How many 9s would you like on your service?

Poor women wear sports bras, not that I would understand the experience.

They're cheap and fit a huge variety of sizes, if poorly. If you have larger breasts, you just wear two. Not the most comfortable, and doesn't look as nice under clothes as a bra that fits, but cost-effective.

Never claimed I or they would know anything about hundred dollar undergarments.

Interesting times we live in where nice shoes can cost $100-$200 and iPhones for $1000 yet 62% of Americans don't even have $1000 in savings.

The study found that 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account. Which is probably no big surprise as a savings account is a pretty horrible place to store any sizeable amount of money, with the near-zero interest rates usually offered on such accounts. At best it is a rainy day fund. $1,000 should easily cover most immediate rainy day needs. Anything more expensive generally gives you some notice to cash out other investments as necessary.

Why do they always do these surveys on savings accounts instead of sum of all bank accounts to get a better picture?

Okay found some better information. https://www.valuepenguin.com/banking/average-checking-accoun... Median checking account balance is $3400.

The only person who benefits if you save is you.

Companies benefit when you spend. So start consuming!

Saving is investing (either directly or by, e.g., loaning to a bank to invest.)

Companies benefit when you invest, too, not just when you spend.

You can make a ton of money by sitting in a bar and listening to a group of women express their grievances to each other, and the extents they would be willing to go to remedy said grievances and then solving that problem -- uncomfortable bras are one of those frequent topics. Personally for my working wife and her group of nursing mother friends, they would pay almost anything for a convenient breast pump without all the hoses and tubes (just in case anyone is listening out there ;) )


These things seem to be fairly new. Not available afaik 4 years ago when my we needed one. I've heard good reviews of the style, but don't know anything about specific brands.

That’s a good idea. Also - taking pitches from female founders seriously, and supporting diversity of perspectives within a design and engineering team so this knowledge is already there.

> I suspect pretty much any woman in North America, regardless of ability to afford it, would see that as a totally rational price point.

I suspect you are completely out of touch with pretty much any woman in North America, besides for the <1% of women who can afford a trip to NYC for a bra fitting expedition.

The quoted statement is a conundrum, but there's hardly any other way to judge it but as a way of saying objectively "invaluable".

But it's obviously not invaluable, because women aren't skipping their car payments, or working extra shifts, in order to buy a $350 bra.

In fact, as I understand it, most women aren't even taking the time to inform themselves about what a good fitting bra feels like(which is free), let alone getting ready to plunk down hundreds of dollars for one.

If you compare invaluable to invaluable, your result must be false, likewise if you take statements too literal as far as every woman was concerned.

Can you elaborate on why this indicates gender imbalance in VC funding?

I'm a bit skeptical of your assertion that anyone regardless of income would see this as a rational price point, when economic theories seem to indicate that our restrictions determine our preferences.

Just because you can't afford something doesn't mean it isn't priced correctly. Just because I can't afford a yaht doesn't mean they're too expensive.

A $350 for an esthetily pleasing comfortable sturdy bra is a no brainier purchase when it's such a QoL improvement, you wear it everyday, and the alternative is a string of cheap bras that won't be that much cheaper in the long run and fit/feel worse.

Just because cheap bras come in lots of sizes doesn't mean one of them will actually work for you.

> A $350 for an esthetily pleasing comfortable sturdy bra is a no brainier purchase when it's such a QoL improvement, you wear it everyday, and the alternative is a string of cheap bras that won't be that much cheaper in the long run and fit/feel worse.

Yes. You absolutely hit the nail on the head. I would _happily_ pay this much for a very comfortable bra, and it's reasonable given the quality of bras in the $100-200 range (I've owned several, although I got them at 50-75% off). That said I'll probably never be able to afford a $350 bra again in my life.

If you were buying $100-$200 bras at 50% discount then you were not buying $200 bras - you were buying $50-$100 bras.

If a brand is refusing to sell $350 bra at 50% off, then it is a $350 bra. Otherwise $350 is MSRP aka the wishing price. If they do 50% off sales then it is a $175 bra. $175 makes it a premium product but not a boutique level premium. Maybe there's a market for $175 bras -- VS tried it in 2005-2007 in some markets but they did not quite sell it was dropped in 2008.

Hermes does not do sales, which is why a a Kelly 22 is $7,200 while LV Speedy is $800 and not $1,400 (Hermes does not do sales and LV does), so Hermes talks about number of units of a kind they ship while LV talks about average revenue per unit of a kind shipped.

P.S. VCs are very bad at funding apparel manufacturers. They pick the ones that they think should work which tend not to be the ones that actually work.

Thank you for mansplaining that to me.

It is money-splaining. Unfortunately it is not done enough.

How do you know they are a man?

I think it's been said elsewhere, but it's the difference between something being seen as premium (Jura coffee maker or 15" MacBook) vs ludicrous (Juicero).

This is decidedly the former. For top-heavy women, especially the majority who are a bit asymmetric, a perfectly fitting bra is an impossible dream.

Sorry, no. I don't like being constricted.

I do not know why I would pay for the privilege of being constricted but hurting less!

There is a lot of research on how bras are useless, and some people even wonder if by limiting lymphatic drainage bras may help promoting cancer.

I wear a sport bra when I am in a gym, and a regular off the shelf bra if I am going in a social encounter where I fear my "freedom" would be used again me to judge my character.

But that's about it. Our moms didn't burn their bras in the 50s so we could have the privilege to spent $350 on them in the future.

For women with large breasts, it's often MUCH more comfortable to wear a supportive bra than to go without. Especially if you're moving at all during the day.

Even for those of us with moderate-sized breasts, the jiggling can be anywhere from distracting to moderately uncomfortable when, say, walking briskly.

And that's putting aside all the social pressures, shaping and body image issues, etc.

I mostly work at a desk. The rare times I have to hurry up in stairs, my right arm moves to my chest to limit the discomfort.

But I can only talk about my experience. It would be certainly different with larger breasts.

Still, I believe bras should not be pushed as the default option - mostly because we don't see similar things pushed on overweight men ('manboobs' or 'moobs').

> mostly because we don't see similar things pushed on overweight men ('manboobs')

Because moobs are just balls of fat. Actual breasts contain glandular tissue which moves differently and has more heft.

While men with ordinary moobs don't need bras, men with gynecomastia (actual breast tissue growth) really should be wearing them. I'm more interested in destigmatizing the notion of gynecomastic men wearing bras than I am in discouraging women from having support.

Also, here's something I can actually give insight into specifically because I'm transgender. Before I transitioned, I was obese (and I still am), and I had noticeable moobs. I never felt like I needed a bra back then, as there was no pain or discomfort from moving around. After being on HRT for a while, I developed significant breasts, and now it's extremely uncomfortable and a fair amount painful for me to go without support. Moobs are not boobs.

I have no idea what moobs are made of, or feel like. I was only referring to their volume.

Thanks for the interesting first hand perspective.

Actually mobs holders are a great idea. I'm a men, and i find that jiggling fat disgusting. If you made that a new social norm, i would push it.

>Actually mobs holders are a great idea. I'm a men, and i find that jiggling fat disgusting. If you made that a new social norm, i would push it.

See Seinfeld S6E17 "The Doorman"



> mostly because we don't see similar things pushed on overweight men

Well, because of gendered body stereotypes, lift and present isn't something anyone (approximately) wants with moobs, and anything that resembles a bra produces mockery, anyway.

But male-targeted control garments functionally equivalent to a combination sports bra and tummy girdle do exist for overweight men (the market for men who need moob control without tummy control is small enough that there doesn't seem to be anything targeted to them.)

Why would an entire generation of women decide how to care for their bodies based one person's one-time protest gimmick?

When I'm at home, I have to hold my boobs when I walk up or down my stairs or the jiggling will hurt a lot. I'm not going outside without a bra.

And I do like being constricted. Wearing a well-fitting bra feels like being hugged all the time, and it feels great.


> Our moms didn't burn their bras in the 50s so we could have the privilege to spent $350 on them in the future.

A) Bra-burning was a myth. It never happened.

B) Second-wave feminism has been considered harmful for quite some time now. It's incredibly toxic due to being inextricably linked with racism, transphobia, femmephobia, kinkshaming, and sex-negativity. The vast majority of feminists have moved on to third-wave feminism, which doesn't have these problems.

> A) Bra-burning was a myth. It never happened.

For people like me who had to look it up:

The dramatic, symbolic use of a trash can to dispose of feminine objects caught the media's attention. Protest organizer Hanisch said about the Freedom Trash Can afterward, "We had intended to burn it, but the police department, since we were on the boardwalk, wouldn't let us do the burning." A story by Lindsy Van Gelder in the New York Post carried a headline "Bra Burners and Miss America." Her story drew an analogy between the feminist protest and Vietnam War protesters who burned their draft cards. A local news story in the Atlantic City Press erroneously reported that "the bras, girdles, falsies, curlers, and copies of popular women's magazines burned in the 'Freedom Trash Can'". Individuals who were present said that no one burned a bra nor did anyone take off her bra.

The parallel between protesters burning their draft cards and women burning their bras were encouraged by organizers including Robin Morgan. The phrase became headline material and was quickly associated with women who chose to go braless. Feminism and "bra-burning" then became linked in popular culture. The analogous term "jockstrap-burning" has since been coined as a reference to masculism.

> Second-wave feminism has been considered harmful for quite some time now. The vast majority of feminists have moved on to third-wave feminism

The idea of simple linear series of waves of feminism is as at least as harmful to understanding as any version of feminism has been to, well, anything.

(But, if you must adhere to it, everyone that matters has moved on to fourth-wave feminism these days.)

Third-wave comes with their own set of problems, as an aside. They definitely have not moved away from kinkshaming and sex-negativity.

Some have, some haven't, as far as my reading goes. There's definitely a broader spectrum of opinions and that alone seems like a good development to me.

> Some have, some haven't, as far as my reading goes

That was also true of second- (and even first-)wave feminism, too.

> There's definitely a broader spectrum of opinions and that alone seems like a good development to me

Third- (and even fourth-)wave feminism may have some different and new ideas and means of presenting them, but much of the core diversity of approaches on feminism has really been around since the so-called “first-wave” in the split between what might (oversimplifying a multiaxis variation into a dichotomy based on some correlations among the axes) be seen as conservative/Christian/bourgeois/virtue-oriented feminism on one side and revolutionary/materialist/proletarian/egalitarian feminism on the other.

> There is a lot of research on how bras are useless

For breast shape development. Not for support.

> There is a lot of research on how bras are useless

Could you link to such a study? This is getting downvoted without explanation.

Cost in beta according to their website is actually lower, at $175. I imagine the end goal is to get cheaper as the product and process is improved--i.e. the Tesla model.

[1] https://bratheory.com/

My wife has paid ~£90 in the UK several times to get a bra from Rigby and Peller (https://www.rigbyandpeller.com/)

I guess paying this amount would be a function of a) how much pain/inconvenience current bras give you and b) how long they last.

And it's not much different in price than a fancy pair of shoes....

> The many concerns in this thread (and their upvotes) about price (350$) are one of the best examples of the risks of gender imbalance in venture funding I've yet seen.

Maybe people on HN are just not aware what something approaching this good costs, and unwilling (let's say for ideological reasons) to consider why it costs as much as it does. I doubt many VCs would be too stupid to Google a bit about what women say about bra fit (or, heck, listen to a woman who isn't a stranger), and how much they currently pay for good fit; If I had a nickel for every time a woman complained about bra fit around me, I'd have at least thirty cents.

I think an interesting next step would be some sort of home scanning kit (or just an app, though this would have a hard time with dark skin, crappy lighting, or a combination of both), not sure how hard it would be to go from a static scan of breast geometry to a fit (since they don't exactly stay that way when they're tied up!).

TL;DR, I think these folks just don't know how pricing works.

Why is that a rational price point, since bra prices seems to be in the 5$ to 10$ range for brands like Jockey and Enamor, in India.

Because you only really need one if your size doesn't fluctuate. Most women I know have like 5, and none of them fit properly and are a constant annoyance, and they mostly wear one of them anyway. If that one really fits? Gamechanger for many.

You can wear it 2-3 years and then the elastics start to wear out. (Wash the thing by hand, and it'll be dry the next day. As any woman can tell you, we do that less often than we should though.)

Compare it to glasses, or maybe shoes - people easily put down that much, even though they could buy cheaper.

"Only need one" is a slight exaggeration; you might want a full cup for every day wear, but need a demi for certain necklines and a strapless for certain dresses. That's 3 bras already just for styles that don't involve people seeing your bra (at which point a nude-colored bra doesn't cut it anymore).

Presumably if you’re not wealthy enough to afford all 3, then a full cup will resolve 90% of your needs, and you can fallback to cheaper bras for the uncommon case (which is a significant improvement over what is the apparent norm; 100% of the time your bra is uncomfortable reduced to 10%, for $350)

And ofc if you’re often wearing non-“everyday” outfits.. you’re probably spending quite a bit on clothing anyways, and can probably afford 2-3 at the $350 price range

Because jockey and enamor suck. So does loveable. Zivame is the only Indian brand that produces good Quality bras in non matrix sizes in India and they too are out of stock on my size in 95% of their collection.

I'm told that regular bras (from a dept store, decent brand) run $100 or so as it is.

Not really. An unadorned Calvin Klein Bra from Macy's will be $30ish. Victoria Secret might be $50-$80.

Once you get to more "lingerie" type brands the price increases fast.

There's also the reality that a lot of women fall out of traditional sizes for any number of reasons and in that case, the options are more limited and expensive.

You'd wish you could choose a design by how much you like it, but that's not how that works. You basically try one every single thing in the shop and then buy the 1 or 2 that fit, no matter the price (if you can).

Yup. Pretty much. Sometimes you WANT one to fit so much that you buy it anyway...

I'll never quite understand why, despite the fact that women's bodies vary more, women's clothing is tolerates any variation way less than men's.

Prices also spike like crazy if you have a non-traditional cup size.

I'm a 44C. Most stores don't carry that. On extremely rare occasion, if I check every single bra that's at my local Walmart, I might find one, and that's only after checking every week for a month.

The last time a bra broke, I decided enough was enough, ditched mainstream stores, and went to Torrid. I was able to buy a few bras in my size, and they've lasted longer than the crap I used to buy from Walmart, but they weren't cheap. I don't remember exactly how much they cost, but it was painful. You pay for rarity.

That’s correct, at least here in Australia you’ll spend more if your breasts are even remotely unique and you are aiming for correct support and comfort.

Who would have thought that the custom stuff costs more?!

Custom code > SaaS

Custom furniture > Ikea

Custom windows > Andersen

Custom pants > Macy's

P.S. Downvoting this proves the point - price is too high and even a claim of custom perfect fit does not bring HN demographic ( which is loaded compared to general population ) so say "Oh, but that's totally good price"

> price is too high and even a claim of custom perfect fit does not bring HN demographic ( which is loaded compared to general population ) so say "Oh, but that's totally good price"

The HN demographic may be loaded compared to the general public, but it's also young, single, and male compared to the general public. Quite arguably, not the best suited to intuitively judge this product, and it's not like there is sufficient data presented to analytically judge it.

Downvoting this proves the point

No, the only point it proves is that people correctly feel your dismissive response is impolite.

You should go. The more people who can afford such a luxury should take advantage, because as their business scales up the price will come down, making it available to more women.

$350 for a gamble on a bra that you may or may not like, that might end up in the back of a drawer forever?

Given that people came back several time for fitting, they seem to fix any pain points for you, so this shouldn't happen.

This quote is great:

"Lesson #2: Be prepared to learn all the reasons why no one has solved your problem."

So often no progress gets made because there are five reasons people haven't made progress but everybody is making excuses about why they only need to solve three of them and wondering why their "minimal" product isn't viable.

For those in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Revelation In Fit, https://www.revelationinfit.com . It's completely changed how I think of fit; I'm an F cup, an H when I was nursing, and having a real fit is no comparison to the days of have a Nordstrom employee trying to convince me to squash into a D. Definitely visit Revelation In Fit before flying to New York, and then maybe fly out. It does sound awesome.

Lesson #4: Perfect is the enemy of good

I find myself re-learning or having to remind myself of this every so often. It's easy as a "person of a problem-solving nature" to want my solution to be problem-free. But what that usually ends up meaning is my solution never gets completed. Tackle the low-hanging fruit, then if there's enough demand/reason to continue development, do the rest.

We tell our clients this over, and over, and over, and over. And over. It's really hard to let their baby into the world without it being perfect. Even when you show them the graveyard of products (my own included!) that found themselves there because their owners hadn't defined what "Good enough" means from the get-go.

I think although the lesson might be self-explanatory, the hard part is knowing what is "good enough".

We often doubt that if we have something crappy, that we will get any interest or traction so the MVP gets delayed. As the OP says in the article, if they couldn't have any benefits over a custom bra maker, what were they selling exactly?

Love write-ups like this: applying research methods to everyday scenarios. If you are going to go all out, definitely consider graphene as a candidate material. You can always put "Tactical" in the name and sell to the Defense industry ;)

Graphene fed spiders spin bionic silk


A lot of people in the comments seem to be forgetting that the relationship between quality (or utility) and price is almost never even close to linear, it is approximately logarithmic with price on the X axis. A $350 bra is well into the long tail. There is nothing "value" about it but it's not trying to be a good value, it's trying to be a superb product. The cost is basically just a number when you're at the very top end like that.

There's a lot of focus in this thread on the bras, specifically. But the lessons learned, as described in the article, are much more generalizable, and I found them valuable.

How many of us spend years perfecting products instead of launching an MVP and learning as we go? How many of us build automation before seeking domain expertise when we really should do it the other way around?

The linked article https://medium.com/@hazelynut/why-i-have-a-problem-with-bras... was a very interesting breakdown of what all it takes and why basically all bras are often just bad approxximations.

Something I didn’t see in the article: is their a pricing model for multiple bras? I can imagine that a lot of people who would buy a $350 bra would gladly pay $750 for, say, 10 bras. Or even for a smaller number of bras and a copy of the pattern that they can use to get new bras later from Bra Theory or elsewhere.

This doesn't make sense to me. Ok, so I understand that it is time consuming to take the first measurement, but I would assume that the first bra would be expensive, but all the next ones would be much cheaper (if it's the same model) or getting cheaper and cheaper with each order. What am I missing?

As the article says, they're all custom-fabricated to match the exact dimensions of a specific person. These are one-off, custom bras. There's little economy of scale possible.

It sounds like the plan is to eventually automate fabrication in order to achieve such economies of scale; that they're currently doing it manually in part because they didn't yet have enough information to properly automate.

Maybe I missed in the article but it seems they're not using 3D modeling. Why not, esp. considering the prevalence of cheap 3D sensors? According to Google there are many people working in this area (as well as shoe fitting).

The goal should be to totally smash current custom fit prices, e.g. to ~$50 level, e.g. using a self-serve fitting station at Macy's. Many such stations can be monitored by one person, similar to how self-serve check out stations are monitored in grocery stores.

The above is for mass market. OP's manual approach can still be used as a high-end service for those who can afford it, e.g. pret-a-porter vs. tailor.

I agree with most of your comment, but the difference between bra fitting and shoe fitting is that you don't want to change the shape of your foot. Most women do want to change the shape of their breasts, even if not consciously: for instance, if your breast point outward & spread a lot, the fit of clothing is changed; if you have droopy breasts, you generally want to hold them up, again in the interest of clothing fit if nothing else; if you're involved in sports, you may want to create certain shapes to optimize your participation.

3D fitting would be really interesting, but not straightforward. It's hard to do the nonlinear transformation that would be necessary, partly because density of breast tissue varies a lot and so not all transformation functions would actually be possible. The "bloat" factor outlined in the article would also have an effect -- hormones, salt consumption, water consumption all affect that. 3D modeling might be most useful for placement of underwires, etc.

I'm guessing because there are more dimensions than simply shape of breast that affect the fit of a bra.

I wonder if a machine could be made that inflates/deflates a proxy of a bra until the woman (wearer? Am I assuming gender?) is comfortable. Take the readings of a comfortable fit and construct a bra that provides that support. Basically, you don't care about the shape of the breast, you care about the shape of that individual's comfortable breast and the pressure needed to get it into that state.

Optical measurements are good for rigid objects, but humans are squishy. Accurate measurement for clothes requires some interaction and judgement. We could eventually have robots do it, but cameras alone aren't enough.

She said in the article that they abandoned the 3D modeling idea after the results turned out to be less than ideal. I also cannot really understand how they couldn’t have worked such a thing out though, even given all of the other factors she mentions in the article that they must account for. It would seem that all of the factors could fairly easily be thrown into the algorithm.

AIUI breast size and shape alter, even for fixed body weight. Full 3D modelling might be an over-optimisation?

So the original post[1] commented that there is a combinatorial explosion of possible bras from having, the author says, 10 parameters to work with.

I read that there was a similar scenario in the design of airplane cockpits, such that there were enough different dimensions of human variation that it was hopeless to design for the "average pilot": even assuming that each dimension had 80% of pilots within the acceptable range, it was basically guaranteed to be unacceptable for the vast majority of pilots. I read that the solution was to make all the relevant aspects of the cockpit adjustable; and that this was deemed expensive and dismissed at first, but it became obviously necessary and they sucked it up and did it.

A simple, cheap, and effective process for custom-made bras seems ideal if they have it, but if that is difficult, then I wonder: could it work to make as many dimensions as possible adjustable, and then suffer only mild combinatorial explosion on the remainder?

[1] https://medium.com/@hazelynut/why-i-have-a-problem-with-bras... , linked from the article.

This article is full of great advice/experience, and I almost skipped over it as I don't wear bras.

Good article and people are reading way to much into the bra theory, which isn't the lesson here.

It seems to me that the hardproblem here is reliably measuring breasts, and then reliably (and repeatably!) manufacturing the perfect bra.

It is not a question of designing the perfect bra given a set of measurements. It’s more “can we make it perfectly?” And “are the measurements accurate?”

as any seamstress or seamster would tell you, it takes a life time to sew perfectly. It’s a CNC mill where you need to tension the materials and threads just perfectly while you move the x/y table.

And if you’ve ever had a suit measured, you know the person taking measurements needs to be in sync with the manufacturer, otherwise it’s a waste of time.

And for what it’s worth, my partner would not pay $350 for a perfect bra (and I mean perfect!).

Interesting. I wonder if they only do product design tests (design to their best ability and ask for feedback from trial users) or do they hire a mechanical engineer to run FEA simulation through something like COMSOL or ANSYS.

Since the interest here comes from the engineering angle, there's another interesting tool to bring up, Reusable Adhesive Silicone Nipple Covers. If I had breasts, I'd probably wear those instead, for better freedom of motion and heat dissipation. afaict, bras don't prevent breasts from sagging anyway[0]. Looking at the top results just on Amazon's store, there appears to be huge interest developing in using those and I see lots of reviews of women saying they're so happy not to have to wear a bra anymore.

0: https://www.thelingerieaddict.com/2013/11/last-time-tribal-a...

I gotta say, you are speaking as someone who doesn't have a lot of experience.

1) Freedom of motion? I wear a sports bra that flattens out my boobs for many reasons. First is prevention of pain while running, etc. -- that vaunted 'freedom of motion' is highly undesirable as the actual runner, thanks. Second, the flattening effect is honestly pretty helpful for cleans, snatches, and other movement that involve keeping a weight close to the body. My boobs significantly affect bar path and sports bras lessen that effect.

2) Heat dissipation. Dude, it's winter! I want to keep my boobs warm! Cold breasts are truly uncomfortable.

3) Ever been a breastfeeding mom? This is not something that's been brought up in this HN discussion, but remember that people who are breastfeeding are often pretty leaky and have sensitive nipples. Bras allow milk shields to be held in place or are by themselves sufficient to contain small leaks, depending on the type. No one wants to have a meeting with a lady leaking through her shirt, least of all the lady in question.

4) Clothing fit. Clothing is generally mass-produced for a certain set of silhouettes in the US. If you have larger breasts and want to wear mass-produced clothing, wearing a bra will improve the set of options that fit well.

I already said I don't have boobs. How much experience could I possibly have? That doesn't make me an idiot though, and I certainly like boobs. I grew up on 'em. :)

1) sports bra != bra. They're different tools. Many women have brought those up for running, so the point is done and proven. I have no counter point to it.

2) I'm from Florida. But that's really interesting. Tools for body heat retention is an interesting topic. Do you have any other tips for this use case?

3) No. But that's another interesting use case. But wouldn't a nipple only device be simpler and more effective? I just found a tool called LilyPadz which seems to suggest that possibility.

4) You're basically saying that this use case is as a workaround/hack, not a permanent fix. The article is about custom clothing anyway. Maybe an Alvin Toffleresque prediction about mass produced, custom clothing would fit here.

I have larger boobs. And live in a humid climate. I have more boobsweat that you can imagine when nude. My boobs need to stay up and away from my waist skin or eventually it will chafe and die. Also without a good bra I can have severe backaches and migraines.

Which is the more likely scenario?

1. Women everywhere are spending tons of money on uncomfortable garments to cover their nipples, because they don't realize nipple covers exist

2. Bras serve a much bigger purpose than covering nipples (hint - what's a jock strap used for? imagine needing that all day, not just when you're running...)

>Bras serve a much bigger purpose than covering nipples (hint - what's a jock strap used for? imagine needing that all day, not just when you're running...)

This doesn't work. Jockstraps were designed for protection a century and a half ago with mostly flawed logic. Today they're mostly used to hold protective cups and not for support.

You'll find the vast majority of men that have played sports in school or pursue an athletic sport as an adult have never owned or worn a jock strap. A properly restrictive sports bra would be the female equivalent and will make a world of difference.

I can run flat out and don't care one bit about my genitals flopping around, my 'moobs' however flop around considerably and in a jarring fashion which actually causes pain and they are considerably smaller than many women's breasts. Watch a woman running with an adequate sports bra, you'll see minimal movement of 2 pieces of tissue wearing considerably more than any man's genitals.

Hi, I'm a woman. #1 is definitely the more likely scenario, based on conversations I've had with other women without large breasts. The only people who like wearing bras are people who feel like they need support for whatever reason. For everyone else, they are complicated nipple covers that you are expected by society to wear.

I'm a man, but this reflects what I hear from women too. Those with larger breast really appreciate the support from a bra. Those with smaller breasts mostly prefer not wearing them (from a physical comfort perspective at least).

These work great if you don't want to have any support. You just have to make sure you don't move around too much or make any sudden movements of your torso because they'll come unstuck. Also, you can't sweat. And don't have sensitive skin, because there's nothing worse than itchy nipples in public. And that's to say nothing about the hassles of cleaning, storing, and reusing them.

Those Amazon reviews are probably fake.

I owned a pair. They were not difficult to clean. You'd just wash them with soap and water when you were some wearing them, and leave them out to dry. The next morning they'd be ready to wear again.

done* wearing them. Would edit but it's too late now.

My wife says that running without a bra is very uncomfortable.

Glue on your skin every day? Bah!

> Launch the NYC experience

> Nude

> Colors

Who’s “nude”? When is the industry going to update this term? If a female person of color outsider won’t, I guess it’s not important to anyone

It's more charitable to assume that this would be a set of six+ colors from pale to deep. You're making unwarranted assumptions.

To respond to your point below, all major manufacturers now make a range of "nude" colors. The range of colors may be stunted, on both ends, but if you've shopped recently you know that a range is easily available.

what's wrong with the term? seems like there can be more than one "nude".

There isn’t in practice so you are soeaking naively for no good reason. A company that wanted to shed the term would say something like “seven skin tones” if they offered more than one “nude”

One would think, if they're doing a custom fitting, they could also figure out what color "nude" is for that specific person.

Skin color comes from just three pigments: eumelanin, pheomelanin, and hemoglobin. There are more pigments than that in the paint mixer at the hardware store.

It probably would not be extremely difficult to come up with a way to automatically generate a custom dye mixture that exactly matches a given skin color, out of just blacks, browns, and reds.

> Who’s “nude”? When is the industry going to update this term?

Reminds me of a scene from some sitcom I can't remember, where a guy is trying to be inclusive, so he says "We employ people of every race here- black, yellow, brown, and normal."

Your definition of nude might be out of date:


You made my point. If it doesn’t mention skin tone then it is likely limited to one color

Love how many men in this thread are acting like they have an opinion that matters about a market AND body parts they can never truly understand.

It would be helpful if you could restate your point with greater nuance.

As currently phrased, it sounds like you're perhaps suggesting men stay out of the conversation entirely.

It is a bit astonishing that there are so many opinions and so few questions.

That's a typical HN comment section though.

One would think a man who holds the same opinion as a woman would be just as capable of having a valid opinion as that woman. Which opinions are held and whether they are valid or not isn't really a function of what body parts one possesses.



Think of a bra as a medical brace. It's worth the investment to get a quality one.


A bad one will:

- cause you constant pain,

- cut blood circulation,

- keep you from being able to run,

- exacerbate back injuries,

- cause skin injuries,

- get colonized by bacterias and possibly fungus,

- create smells,

- cause allergic reactions,

- etc.


A bra isn't only a device meant to look good.

You often pay $60-$90 for a one that seems well made only for it to fall apart after 3 months of wearing.

Paying $350 for one that would fit perfectly and last a long time is not far fetched at all.

But bad ones aren't the competition; existing good ones (even if not as good) are. How much are those?

Well, I'm not in the premium bra market at all so I couldn't tell. I'm still buying one every few month and enduring the metal wires stabbing me in the chest.

That being said, a quick googling gives all kind of pries.

https://secretsfromyoursister.com/ <- $80-$200

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1976927179/anesi-bra-th... <- 80$ but kickstarter

https://foreveryourslingerie.ca/product/?cName=BRAS&pName=Pr... <- 144$

https://foreveryourslingerie.ca/product/?cName=BRAS&pName=Em... <- 209$

In my eyes, the pricing is similar to comparing a regular hair dryer ($17) to the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer ($399).

Or perhaps a cheap pair of boots ($49) that lasts one winter to an expensive pair ($250+) that lasts a few years.

IF my wife and her "huge tracts of land" put one of these on, and her breasts said, "We're home.", I'd gladly pay it. It sure beats paying yet-another-$85 for a bra that isn't going to be any better than the last one, and then listen to her bitch multiple times a week about how she can't find a bra that fits. Hell, I drop $150 on running shoes that last me three months, $350 for a bra she can get a year out of ain't no thing.

But, man, at that price there's a tall bar to meet. We'll pay for quality, but if it's not up to snuff, it goes back the next day.

Just in case you don't know, do check out https://www.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits/wiki/measuring for now!

With what my wife spends on other clothing, $350 for a bra that fits and is of high quality seems ok. I think this is a good market.

The downvoted into oblivion comment is actually correct: this price point is dead. She is competing not just with the custom shops but with La Perla's custom boutiques where purchases come with a glass of Veuve Clicquot and if that runs out when a person shops than another one or another one.

The only price point that may have space is where VS Apex was for a better fit.

Maybe an ok price in NYC, I dunno. But where I live, there is a somewhat “fancy” bra store, run by a woman who is also very passionate about this subject. $200 there will get you two really good bras, with an expert who will help you find ones that fit perfectly.

Paying lots of money for good garments is certainly a thing. But still there is a limit. So, I wish this business luck.

It's a lot.

But... for something that often costs $80; is generally available only in sizes that comfortably fit a small proportion of the population; and where improper fit means pain all day... worth it if you can afford it.

I for one have been watching this closely, and will probably buy if/when the price hits $150-ish.

Stated goal is 4 customers per month! Are there 4 perpetually bra-frustrated people with unlimited disposable income in NYC? Hell yes!

Apparel is a different world from consumer electronics in terms of pricing.

Is $1400/month raw income enough to sustain a business in NYC?

4 customers doesn't mean 4 bra sales. Women usually own more than one bra.

Ok, but how many bras are they expecting each woman to buy? It's going to have to be a lot for them to spend a whole week working with each customer.

It's a bootstrapping period!

With or without VC funding?

I imagine they’re buying more than one bra.

Yeah, I can't see myself ever paying THAT much for a bra, even if it's absolutely perfect.

Hopefully they can bring costs down eventually through some means. A bra that's 90% perfect at about a third of that cost would be something I would consider.

My thoughts exactly, This should be geeky cool, but a little out of touch with reality (could just be my reality). Even the line about being Tesla and making it an "affordable" $135, I have a wife and three daughters, even at that price it would be unobtainable.

It will be interesting if Women chime in here to express if all that custom fitting (and the technology involved) would be worth the money of that custom fitted bra.

One good bra is easily worth 5 mediocre ones though, if you have an unusual shape. If they don't break down after a few months (handwash only of course), it could be worth it financially.

Chimed in in a sibling comment...

My wife spends $80 to get the proper fit, comfort and longevity she is looking for. I understand $80 is already something of a premium, so 4x that still seems high, but I am sure there is a small market of women who don’t know about, or aren’t happy with, the $80 options. The included service is obviously a benefit, for one.

If you're an "unusual" size (i.e. out side the 32-38 A-DD sold in Victoria's Secret), $80 is about par for the course. And that's not even taking into account comfort.

This is very high, but if it can greatly cut down on the bra churn I have noticed around here, there probably is a market regardless.

An incredibly astute point, thank you for balancing my sticker shock.

More I think about it, more I'm surprised at just how much mass production lowers costs. Even after being aware of the Toaster Project.

Yes. But I spend no less than £400 on a pair of shoes. The shoes will last me decades with proper maintenance and repairs. This doesn't seem strange to me as long as the bras last a very long time.

If they don't last a long time, or if the bra size changes too often, then it is ridiculous, though.

Did our high school counselors let us down or what?


This is what it is yet, but unlike all the other bra makers, these are on a mission. Maybe they lie about being on a mission, maybe they will fail, but they are reaching for more than any bra company before them.

> Temperature of the measuring tape at time of measuring

Can't tell if this is real or not. I'm fairly confident that the thermal expansion of the measuring tape is not going to make even a tenth of a millimeter difference in precision: does it have to do with the temperature of the skin?

It could be real (more likely a skin effect than a tape effect) but insignificant, but just a pile-on of "differentiating" features.

All I comment is: https://youtu.be/AS8nXc3X-6k

> we have learned through firsthand experience many of the variables behind bra-making. I will name a short list:

> [...]

> Temperature of the measuring tape at time of measuring

Are you sure?

If the measuring tape is made of steel, it expands by a factor of 13e-6[0] for every degree C that it heats up. If you measure first with a 0 degree C tape measure, and then with a 100 degree C tape measure (both of which are absurd and will be extremely uncomfortable), then the second measurement will differ from the first by a factor of 13e-4. A measurement of 100mm will become 100.0013mm. Can you even cut the fabric precisely enough for that to matter?

[0] http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Tables/thexp.html

EDIT: But see replies below: it's more likely that the temperature of the tape causes changes in the shape of the skin.

EDIT2: Also just realised I initially missed out the second factor of 100, so it becomes 100.13mm instead of 100.0013mm, which is almost close enough to matter, but only in the extreme scenario of 100 degrees C change in temperature.

The point of the article was that they were doing engineering for and about people. How the body responds to a cold tape undoubtedly causes much larger distortions than the thermal expansion of the tape itself.

Nobody measures people with a steel tape? Its cloth or plastic.

OK, my mistake. To me, a tape measure is a steel thing that coils itself up. Let's try and find some numbers for cloth and plastic:


ABS heats up by a factor of 100e-6 per degree C. The largest number I spotted was paraffin with 106e-6 to 480e-6 per degree C.

If the tape measure is made of the most-expanding type of paraffin, which is itself the most-expanding material listed, then the 100mm measurement becomes 100.05mm when heated by 100 degrees C. I really don't think a difference of 50 micrometres matters, or is even achievable, in the manufacture of a bra.

EDIT: (But I see the other points now - it's not the thermal expansion of the tape, but the body's reaction to the temperature).

Intercostal muscle tension probably has a bigger effect than thermal expansion of the tape. The intercostals are the muscles that control how close together your ribs are. They're auxilliary muscles for breathing. Diaphragm and core muscle tension will also have an effect. Your pectoralis muscles and trapezius and deltoids will all also have an effect. These are all muscles that control the size and shape of your ribcage. The human body is not a static shell, but flexes and changes shape depending on the tension of different muscles.

When we touch cold things to our skin, we naturally tense up. If your intercostals, diaphragm, and core are tense when you're being fitted for something that is snug against your chest, then when you get it out of the box it will be too tight.

> To me, a tape measure is a steel thing that coils itself up.

So like, when you're talking about or to someone on a topic where you're not even sure about the basics like, "what kind of tape measure do they use?" I would urge you strongly to go into "information gathering" mode, rather than "correct perceived incorrectness" mode.

Who measures people with steel measuring tape? That sounds very cold on the skin. I'm pretty sure plastic or cloth will be more common.

I would guess measurements will change based on the skin's reaction to the cold temperature, or the person unnaturally tensing up, assuming we're talking about steel tape, which is very unlikely.

The better bet is that the tape they're using is made of plastic, which is going to deform much more.

Aha! Thanks. That makes much more sense :)

> If you measure ... with a 0 degree C ... will be extremely uncomfortable

I believe that's all the author wanted to say

Effect on nipples?

350$ for a garment? For an undergarment?! What?! That's 48 hours of minimum wage in my state for maybe 15$ of material IF it includes hand-made lace.

You can buy custom-made corsets for cheaper than this (yes they can be far more expensive but most of that is exotic material cost). You can buy custom made lifting boots/shoes for this that have a considerably higher material cost.

I work in international freight currently, I know extremely well what imported textiles cost including bras, even if these are hand-made in the US per customer there's an awful lot of profit there unless they are made out of unobtanium.

This is a prime example of 'pink tax' in my opinion and/or inefficient manufacturing processes (again, even if hand made) and/or unreasonable salaries.

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