Have you ever wondered why some brands of bras are expensive, and some are cheap?
Maybe you purchased a bra from a bin, spent as little as $19.99, and wore it proudly for a year before the underwire stabbed you in the chest. *ouch. Maybe you spent upwards of $150, and it was the most uncomfortable bra you've ever owned. *double ouch. Let's unpack the secrets of the lingerie world and why bras are so expensive ranging anywhere from $19 to $190 and upwards.
A piece of lingerie can look relatively simple by design, but you might be surprised to know that there are anywhere from 20 to 50 parts to the standard bra. And each piece plays an integral role in the fit, comfort and level of support.
To name just a few:
- side panel
- strap joint
- and closure
But there's more to the story of why bras are so expensive than just the parts to a bra.
Boob size, shape and body shape matter too. More breast = more support. No
matter the brand, NO one bra fits all. Brands can do their best to serve as many women as possible, but they will never serve everyone. The lingerie company might encompass sizes from A32 to H50 in one bra style, but this is under the assumption that all boobs and bodies are like those they fit the bra on. This is just one of the many reasons why showing products on different body shapes matters. It's not just inclusivity in photography but also visually showing consumers how the bra will look from an A cup to an H cup.
When we think of the problem with (ex)clusivity, we will often hear thoughts about worthiness, the definition (or perceived definition) of what sexy is, and yes, these two points have been a hot topic and are worthy on the negative attention, but there is also another reason that you might not have considered before: the structure of the bra changes based on the size. You might remember when Savage X Fenty received some bad rap a few years ago when a plus-size woman ordered her bra, and it didn't look the same as what was pictured.
Unfortunately for Savage X Fenty, trying to offer the proper support for bigger breasts came with a back lash and forced them to produce the same product no
matter the size. The result? A better return policy for unsatisfied customers. A company of this size can afford to absorb this expense, but a small label simply can not. This can result in up-and-coming lingerie brands with more niche product lines to reduce the cost of bras.
There is one more noteworthy point when it comes to 'why' a brand doesn't include all sizes.
Brands and companies build their voice based on what they call an avatar, their ideal customer. When a company first starts out, one of its main objectives is to generate some revenue to grow its company (and pay off the debt a start-up takes on). This means most brands start with an average size of 34D in North America. You might remember the wave of angry people when Lululemon publicly stated, "Our product and design strategy is built around creating products for our target guest in our size range of 2-12," after a large recall in products (think non-squat-proof leggings) they quickly followed up by the resignation of their foot-in-mouth founder. This backlash was felt so heavily because brands have only focused on this size range for far too long, leaving a LOT of people demanding better representation and choice.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen niche brands pop up, brands that focus on the minority instead of the majority. The opportunity is to capture
business from the consumers who have spent a lifetime being excluded from more prominent brands. Although they are not inclusive, which by society's standards is a non-negotiable, they are receiving the positive attention they deserve.
So why does the price vary and how does a bra get to be so expensive? I'm going to highlight the two main reasons:
- quality of the materials being used
- manufacturing processes
Let's start with #1, the quality of the product because it's a little less to unpack. There is an old saying, "quality over quantity." When you spend a little more on a wardrobe staple, it will (or should at least) last twice to three times longer than its inexpensive competitor. Think shoes, jeans, suit jackets and your bras. This puts less clothing into circulation, which is better for our environment overall. So, although your bra will be more expensive, it will last you twice as long.
The other part, the manufacturing processes, is a big topic. Thanks to our Gen Z's, we are seeing more and more brands talk about this part of their business. They range from fair working conditions, sourcing fabrics, packaging, and how many products they produce. This has influenced how we manufacture as brands, looking for smaller, more boutique-style production practices that increase the price of bras.
Fast fashion vs slow fashion and why you should care.
What are these buzz terms, and why do you care about them? Primarily because of the environmental impact. Fast fashion is less expensive clothing that has a high sell-through rate. You will see the latest trends and seasonal colors because they intend to sell out before the following season. These brands tend to focus on younger generations where quantity is more important than quality and the prices are inexpensive.
Slow fashion is more intimate in its manufacturing processes and its relationship with its customers. Generation Z played a significant role in demanding more transparent manufacturing processes, and this is why you're seeing a lot more ethical brands pop up. It's taken a long time to get here, and we have a long way to go, but it's a damn good thing we've arrived. *air high five*
What should you expect from slow fashion brands? Quality-made products at a higher price tag. You pay for what you get, right? The brands that fall into this category have one main objective – customer loyalty. They exist to make you happy.
So, the next time you're in the market for… well, anything… I invite you to check out the brands' Our Story' page. It's not about where they produce their product but rather how involved they are in the manufacturing processes, how trustworthy are they, and do you feel that they genuinely care about the consumer and their environmental impact? Want to learn more about our story? You can find it here.
Shauna Allan - Shauna is the Founder and CEO of Modern Match Lingerie. She began the company in 2019 after taking a leap of faith. She knew she wanted to create an impact in the lives of women, and knew lingerie was the way to do it. She designs lingerie made to move with the modern woman, without compromising on sexiness, and functionality. Shop the collection here.