A new bra-volution is here and we like it. Like many industries important to women— tampons, pads, shaving and condoms— bras have been stuck in the past, mostly dominated by men and simply inflexible (like bras themselves). But not to worry; after dedicated development and research, ThirdLove is here to save the day (or the bae’s).
Heidi Zak, an MIT MBA grad who has worked in many product-oriented jobs, realized there was huge potential for an innovative lingerie market. Many start-ups were already turning traditional products on their heads, “cutting out the middle man”--as is Boll and Branche's modo-- “to cut out department store pricing”, and provide quality products at an accessible price. So she and her husband, David Spector, started ThirdLove, a groundbreaking bra fitting and selling site with products developed by women, for women. “Women account for over 70 percent of all U.S. spending, and virtually every one of them wears a bra,” Zak said in an interview with Inc. With statistics like that, it's hard to believe it took this long.
The company’s ethos seems to be simplicity and accuracy. After repeated trial-and-error, ThirdLove came up with its best-selling 24/7 bra (and variations thereof). During development, they discovered that most women fall between bra sizes. Not all breasts are created equal: even on the same woman, breasts usually vary a half size from one another. This is duly reflected on the site’s sizing options. As Ra’el Cohen, the company’s head designer points out, "You wouldn't want to buy a shoe that didn't have half-sizes. Why would you want to buy a bra without them?" And feet don’t even change as often as breasts! Cohen has even gone where no woman has gone before in attempting to perfect the strapless bra by “softening the curve of the cup so the breast fills it, rather than spills over it.” No more constant fidgeting.
This great accomplishments were met with obsolescent effrontery by titans of the industry, who were often male. "Ninety percent of the time, you're pitching mostly to men," says Cohen. When Cohen would unveil the startup's prototypes, more often than not the discussions would devolve into Mad Men clichés: male VCs calling in their female assistants and junior-level associates to evaluate the startup's worthiness. After meeting with one top Silicon Valley firm, a male partner told them he didn't want to invest "because 'we invest only in markets we understand'", Zak told Inc. The mind boggles.
Zak, Spector and Cohen persevered and introduced a much needed product and shopping experience to the market at the behest of breasts everywhere.
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Jen Pitt, originally from Brazil, is a Brooklyn based writer and performer. She covers feminism, arts, and Brazilian culture.