This is Part 3 of our Environmental Series. Read Part 2 here.
The Game Plan (cont’d)
Step 3. Buy wisely/consume smartly.
How Many Bras Do You Actually Need?
According to the statistics, women have 2-3 bras they wear 95% of the time and another 5-8 they never use (poor fit, special occasion only) (source: UK Underwear report 2016, Mintel).
(1) An obvious but often overlooked consideration: does your wardrobe have the capacity for a new piece? (2) Think of clothing in your wardrobe you will be wearing this bra with, and plan for matching briefs, to give it a good run. For example, French women rotate 3 briefs with one bra; (3) Buy designs that reflect quality and durability: check that the material is high quality, seams are neat, and check customer reviews for longevity; (4) Buy customer service and after-sale support; ask what guarantees the seller can offer in case a wire pops out.
Design defines 80% of how durable the product is going to be. In the quest for normalising product obsolescence rates, buying the right design is the most effective single contribution you can make as an individual consumer.
Simple Bra-Buying Math
Scenario A: You buy a £10 bra and wires pop out every 2 weeks. This means you need to buy 25 bras per year. Your total expense is £250.
Scenario B: Same as Scenario A but you choose to repair half of your bras, and so you buy 13 bras and take them 12 times to a repair shop (at £5 per repair). Your total expense is 13 x £10 + 12 x £5 = £190.
Scenario C: You buy 3 bras at £45 (these are well made and have product guarantee). You total expense is £135 but these may last you well over a year.
Buy the Right Size/Fit
Wearing the right size and fit is key to your good experience with the bra. Sizing, however, is often inconsistent between brands and styles. To counter that, you can work with a professional bra-fitter or learn the basics of sizing and fit to be able to choose well by yourself.
Wash after 3–4 wears or whenever it gets soiled. Wash in a washing machine: get a mesh bag and wash with similar colours at +30C on a gentle cycle. Avoid fabric softener as it clogs up the synthetic fibres and impairs fabric breathability. Hang to dry. Full care instructions link. There are also health implications for our skin – learn more here.
Repair Where You Can
The most frequent fault bras have is wires popping out. You can stitch up the wire channel opening by hand, or if the job is more serious, you can send it to us. We do free repairs as part of our product guarantee promise.
The band may feel looser if your weight changes, or straps may feel short/long. We offer free alterations to prolong your experience with the bra.
The Signs of a Bra Being Dead
This is quite difficult to achieve given the high durability of materials used nowadays. The weakest links are the straps and wings losing elasticity, wires popping out, the lining tearing up, and cumulative wear and tear as a result of which the fit no longer works.
When the bra has passed its prime but still can be used, why not wear it for a hiking trip or a gardening session where it will work just the same? The French clear out their entire lingerie drawer once a year.
You can repurpose a bra as a summer flower basket or cut up its foam as stuffing for a throw pillow. If you absolutely must, gift it to a bra bank but be aware of the actual impact it has on your intended audience. The alleged misuse of distribution channels for second-hand bra trade in developing markets is widely documented and some West African states are banning the trade to enable local producers.
Read onto Part 4 here.
On the Photos
WRAP Textiles Sustainability Guide. Credit WRAP.