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Bras from the 1970s to Present

The post-”bra-burning” era of the 1970s began to see some of the fastest evolution of the bra, and has brought today’s women a plethora of choices and bra options. During the past 40 years, bras have undergone the most dramatic changes since their inceptions; leaping and bounding lightyears ahead of where they were for the 60 years before. Women today can take advantage of a variety of bra shapes, styles and fabric options that manufacturers offer in order to win a slice of this $15 billion pie.

Advances in Manufacturing Bring Women More Options
In the early 1970s, bra manufacture, like all other clothing manufacturing, moved offshore. This enabled manufacturers to save more money on production while passing on some of the savings to the women who wear them, and more money into development and marketing. The bra industry has become extremely profitable, netting more than $15 billion annually in the U.S., and a huge amount of money overseas.

Because the bra business is so profitable, more and more manufacturers are getting into the act – bringing more options to the women who wear them! Today’s women can choose from a wide variety of fabric types and colors, including technical fabrics, sheer fabrics, lacy detailing and colors that wouldn’t have been possible in the last century. All of the manufacturing updates have made it possible to elevate the bra from a practical garment to a fashion statement in itself – and designers have done just that!

Bras for All Shapes and Sizes!
No, really – changes in manufacturing processes and popular trends mean there really are bras for all shapes and sizes. Since the 1970s, designers have created many different types of bras to produce varying shapes, cleavage and necklines. Manufacturers have used different types of boning, added underwires, created seamed-cups and molded-cups to offer different shapes and support options for women.

Wonderbra Introduces the First Push-Up Bra in the mid-1970s

The ideal of what the bra (and the ideal woman) should look like has changed over the years, leading to changes in bra shape and style. Bras have given women flat chests, pointy breasts, conical breasts and of course the “natural” rounded shape – all as popular demand and the current trends dictate. In fact, the demand for fashionable bras has become paramount, and bras today have come to appeal to fashion and image over fit, comfort and function.

Around 1994, bra manufacturers began moving their advertising away from a focus on functional bras that promise support and foundation to selling lingerie that emphasizes fashion while sacrificing functionality. Many women today wear uncomfortable bras to “look sexy” and appeal to their significant other.

Many of Today's Bras Emphasize Sexiness and Fashion

Bra designers in the past 10 years have come to face a new challenge, though: body mass and bust size is increasing, which creates demand for larger sizes. The average size in a 10-year period went from 34B to 36C, and today many women are wearing D cups or higher. This has led to a demand for larger bra sizes while at the same time designing plunging necklines and creating bras that reduce interference with the lines of outer garments. A tall order? Perhaps. But luckily today’s manufacturers seem to be up to the challenge!

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