Modernizing Bra Design
Roopinder Tara posted on February 11, 2016 |

A woman who wants to run distances has two disadvantages compared to men: her breasts. The bigger they are, the more of a problem they become. Over the course of miles (26.2 in a marathon), a body is subjected to repeated impact. Feet hit pavement at 160 to 200 times a minute with a shock that is transmitted throughout the body. 

Women bodies are changing. Bra design has stayed the same. Trusst Lingerie seeks to update bra design with support from underneath. Picture from Trusst.

Women bodies are changing. Bra design has stayed the same. Trusst Lingerie seeks to update bra design with support from underneath. Picture from Trusst.


It’s hard on the knees and any unsupported flesh, be it flab or breasts. You’ll see little of either among the fastest runners.

What is the average woman to do if she wants to run? The conventional answer has been to strap on a running bra. But a women-led start up, using CAD and 3D printing, may have a better answer.


Running With It

Sports bras aren’t a good solution, according to Pittburgh-based Trusst Lingerie founders Laura West and Sophia Berman, who are at SOLIDWORKS World. Sports bras tend to flatten the breasts across the chest, they said. While that would reduce the overhanging mass, the forces required to do so compress the chest. How’s a runner supposed to breathe?

Figure 2 – Wear, don’t leer. Men feel what

Figure 2 – Wear, don’t leer. Men feel what "full figured" women have to put up with. Click to see full video on YouTube, shown at conference.

Trusst does not (as yet) make a sports bra. The company is thinking of it. It is more concerned at the moment with generations of women—who along with the rest of the population have gotten bigger—and an archaic bra design that failed to keep up.

The average bra has gone up two sizes, according to Trusst.


It's All About Trusst

Laura and Sophia are in Dallas to promote their fledgling company. Founded in 2014, Trusst was a successful Kickstarter project, raising $80K after asking for only $25K.

Trusst defies conventional bra design by doing away with the underwire. A mainstay in most bras, the underwire, made of a hard material such as metal or plastic, fits under the breast close to the chest. Straps hold the underwire against the rib cage while fabric transfers the weight of the breasts to the shoulder straps. This support prevents downward motion of the breast. Little restraint is provided against upward motion, such as would occur when running.

But for some women, size is a problem while stationary.

Enough With the Joke --This is Serious Business

The average bra size in the US has increased three sizes in the last two decades, said Sophia Berman. She, along with Laura, is doing her best to stay serious in the face of a male interviewer who misses no opportunity to insert every possible lame joke. You can feel the collective cringe at the keynote session on the first day of SOLIDWORKS World.

Trusst bras have no underwire. Instead, a plastic support hidden in the fabric supports the breast. I picture a cantilever support, but they say it’s a truss support. The company is secretive about the exact shape of the plastic part but claims that 80 percent of the support comes from this piece. Gone are the problems of underwires, in which mass is mostly supported by the shoulder straps, they said. “Full-figured” women complain of shoulder straps that not only dig between neck and shoulder but lead to back problems.

Using CAD for Undergarments

Laura and Sophia are both industrial designers. They have been using SOLIDWORKS for the past six months for the design and 3D printing of the plastic support.

Figure 3 – Trusst support piece analyzed for stress with SOLIDWORKS Simulation. (Image from video shown at SOLIDWORKS World.)
Figure 3 – Trusst support piece analyzed for stress with SOLIDWORKS Simulation. (Image from video shown at SOLIDWORKS World.)

The company sells three models, which start at $100 and go up to $130.

The engineering community, mostly male, has turned its attention to bra design before, though maybe not always for the right reasons. The most famous case is Howard Hughes, aerospace engineer and later mad billionaire recluse, who supported actress Jane Russell for the filming of The Outlaw. Hughes’ interests were more about Russell’s appearance than her comfort, however. The actress is purported to have shunned the uncomfortable contraption during the filming of the movie.

For now, female runners can only hope that Laura and Sophia will be successful in selling their design to women who are standing and walking—and then turn their attention to those who want to go faster.

For more information, see www.trusstlingerie.com.

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