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Lingerie School: The Sports Bra Project.

Final design technical drawings

I knew from the start that my degree was never going to be easy.  My latest design project was one that I truly struggled with – and not for the reasons I was expecting!

This project was the first one that I just wasn’t able to get excited about from the onset. ‘Contour Fashion’ isn’t just about designing girly and frivolous underthings – we have to tackle the more practical aspects of lingerie too.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not exactly active. Exercise and I don’t get on particularly well, so I’ve never even considered owning a sports bra. When we were assigned the brief to design a sports bra and matching co-ordinate, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy. It just wasn’t something I could relate to. I’ve always thought that since I’m not spectacularly endowed in the chest department, there’s little point in me owning one.

Panache underwired sports bra

As it turns out, that’s a very common misconception. Extensive research has revealed that women with smaller breasts experience just as much pain and discomfort when conducting vigorous activities as women with bigger breasts.

It’s not just pain and discomfort that a sports bra prevents. A sports bra can also help reduce damage to the breasts. Exercise can put a lot of strain on them: if this is prolonged, the ligaments that keep the breasts in place can be damaged and eventually cause them to sag. Whilst such results are significantly more pronounced in the larger-busted woman, women on the other end of the scale are not immune either!

Just these two facts left me slightly shocked. Regardless of how unattractive you may find them, sports bras play a very important and practical role. Thus armed with my new knowledge, I immediately ventured out to buy my own very first sports bra.

Bra by Shockabsorber

Sadly, my awkward bra size left my choices very limited. Limited to just the one style in fact. Nevertheless, I ventured home with my new Shockabsorber and went for a jog. I could immediately tell that my new bra made a huge difference.

Initial inspiration drawings

I now had something akin to motivation. With my new understanding, I could approach the project with a little more vigour! The starting point that we were assigned was that of ‘movement.’ I wanted to avoid the obvious starting point of Olympic sports (as the project brief was linked very strongly with the approaching 2012 Olympics). I chose to look at cars and machinery – I was particularly drawn to the use of panelling and the smooth curves and lines.

Initial designs

After finishing my market research, trend research, and other similar areas I got started on the designing. I’d sourced my fabrics and finalised my colours – time to start sketching! I finally selected a design and started drafting my patterns. After ironing out a few hiccups, I started sewing!

Final design

So here’s my final product: a sports bra and a matching brief. Whilst I’m not entirely happy with it, I must say that I do prefer it to the majority of sports bras that I found on my local high street! The important thing is that I’ve learned from it. I know for a fact that I’ll never go into sportswear but at least I know how to tackle my sketchbook and research for my next project!

Readers: what sort of experiences have you had with sports bras? Are they a necessity in your exercise wardrobe or have you always eschewed them like I once did?

Karolina Laskowska

Lingerie designer. Spends most of her time sewing bras and getting excited by chantilly lace.