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The Evolution of The Sports Bra

Posted by Lizzy Parr on

Now, we don’t know about you, but here at Boobuddy we couldn’t imagine a life without sports bras. Kudos to the women who, until the 1970s, had to sweat and exercise in their everyday bra with very little or absolutely no support.

The evolution of the sports bra dates back 50 years and it’s a pretty interesting story with women at the helm, of course.

1970's

Even though the likes of Jazzercise, mini trampolines and aerobics were a popular form of fitness for many women in the 70’s, there were no specialist bra’s to keep everything in place.

The first ever sports bra was created in 1975 by Glamorise Foundations and was named the ‘Free Swing Tennis Bra’.

Evolution of the Sports Bra

They claimed this bra had more support than a normal bra but as you can see from their advert, the thin straps suggest there are not many dissimilarities between the tennis bra and an everyday bra from that time. 

Women who golf, ski, bowl, skate, sail, ride and cycle were the main target audience with no mention of running, jogging or other strenuous activity.  The advert only really addresses the freedom of movement, comfort and coolness and ignores the issue of support ie. the REAL issue. 

2 years later, in 1977, the “Jock Bra” was born.

Lisa Landahl was a big fan of jogging with her husband but hated the lack of support for her breasts when exercising. She often doubled up on bras or even sometimes wore a bra that was too small for her, all in an attempt to lock her lady lumps in place, we can almost feel her pain just thinking about it.

She was fed up with her bra chafing on her skin, runaway straps and sore boobs while her husband ran freely and supported, wearing a jock strap to keep his privates in place.

One day, Lisa’s sister called her for advice on jogging and was shocked to discover that Lisa wore a normal bra for running and joked “we need a jockstrap for women!”, which Lisa thought was actually not a bad idea.

Lisa then called her costume designer friend, Polly Smith, to ask for help with designing and creating a supportive running bra. After many failed prototypes, her husband came downstairs with his jockstrap over his chest and joked, “here’s your jock bra, ladies!”. Little did he know his joke was about to change the active world forever.

Lisa took 2 jockstraps and sewed them together, crossing over the leg straps to make shoulder straps, the waistband became the ribband, and the supportive aspect became the cups.

Evolution of the Sports Bra

She tried it out and couldn’t believe she’d finally created The Jock Bra, which was eventually renamed to the JogBra, which gave her the support she was missing.

Who knew husbands could be so helpful?

1980's

 Fast forward to the 1980s and Jane Fonda’s workout video launched the aerobic dancing craze that took over the world.

This trend inspired women all over the globe to dance around in front of their television in neon leg warmers and bright, stretchy lycra bodies, which offered no support for the breast. 

Come on Jane, we thought you’d know better than that. 

Evolution of the Sports Bra

1980’s

The sports bra has come a long way but they were still designed for smaller-breasted women and offered little or no support to big breasted ladies.

Renelle Braaten was a hair stylist and fitness enthusiast who loved volleyball but struggled with finding a sports bra that supported her big boobs. Instead of quitting sports because of her frame, she decided to make a change and one evening said to her mum, “get out your sewing kit because we need to make me a better bra”.

She moved away from traditional elasticated materials and instead opted for less-stretchy fabrics and implemented a full-coverage back panel, something which hadn’t been done before. 

This was a new wave of the sports bra and Braaten spent the next nine months perfecting her prototype, all the while testing it out whilst running and working out.

The Enell bra finally hit the market in 1992, but it wasn’t until almost 12 years later in 2004 that Enell became a household name thanks to Oprah Winfrey endorsing it on her TV show.

Evolution of the Sports Bra

1990's

Sports bras were always treated as hidden undergarments that women should be ashamed of. But this all changed in 1984 when Joan Benoit won the first ever women’s Olympic marathon, causing uproar as her lingerie-style bra strap showed as she completed her closing lap.

Thanks to American soccer star Brandi Chastain, who in 1999 celebrated her winning point by taking off her top to reveal her sports bra, this brought attention to sports bras and increased social acceptance. 

Evolution of the Sports Bra

This move by Chastian increased awareness for sports bras but also attracted a lot of criticism from many who said Nike’s sports bras were boring and unimaginative. This prompted many other companies to step up their game and design sports bras that were not only practical but also nice to look at.

2000's

It’s only been 48 years but the sports bra has come a long way and the advancement is only getting better.

Researchers are still studying breast movement during exercise to help improve the technology around sports bras and how to best protect the breasts during exercise. 

Yet, even after 40 years of development, there are still lots of problems with sports bras and they often fail at their sole purpose, which is to support and keep breasts from bouncing during exercise, with many large breasted women having to double or even triple up to achieve optimum support.

Evolution of the Sports Bra

The problem is, most sports bras focus on vertical displacement (bouncing up and down) as opposed to side to side and forward and back, whereas the breasts actually move in a figure of eight motion.

This is where the Boobuddy comes to the rescue. The Boobuddy adds support, comfort and confidence when exercising. It can be worn alone or in conjunction with a sports bra to eliminate the bounce of your boobs.

Evolution of the Sports Bra

We wish we could go back in time and give a Boobuddy to Lisa Landahl and save her from wearing her husband’s old jock strap. Thankfully the Boobuddy is available to you today, check out our latest products here or read testimonials from previous customers here.


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