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Cup half full: the lingerie brands ditching padding and underwire | Fashion


Lis Harvey wasn’t surprised when Victoria’s Secret cancelled its annual big boobs and brouhaha runway extravaganza last year.

“There is a new way of thinking about what sexy is today, and it’s very much about being comfortable in your own skin,” Harvey says.

“The parade was very much a fantasy world for men, and that idea of lingerie has changed. It’s no longer about a diamond-encrusted push-up bra for large breasts, it’s about normalising the idea that not just one body type is beautiful. Women were told for so long that if their breasts were not a particular size they were not sexy, but that’s not the case any more.”

Harvey is the founder of Brisbane lingerie brand Nico, one of a host of intimates labels producing wireless bras and smaller cup sizes in response to demand from women who want bras that are elegant, comfortable and don’t try to pad smaller breasts to excess. .

Likewise, Lonely Lingerie founder Helene Morris decided to eschew push-ups and padding from the very beginning – it was a winning strategy. “We started Lonely as a soft-cup label and have always been mindful that everyone is unique.” .

She started making intimates in 2012, as a sideline to her clothing label Lonely, but found demand for the small, wire-free lace and cotton bras swiftly surpassed that for its parent brand. Today, the majority of the company’s sales lie in lingerie, which it offers in 30 sizes from an A to a G cup, and band sizing from 8 to 16.

“Having pieces that suit both smaller and larger busts is something we always consider,” the designer says. “We don’t use rigid linings or non-breathable padding in our designs.”

Often, customers tell her “they didn’t know it was possible to feel this way in a bra”.

On the high street, Cotton On Body now sells a wide range of wire-free bras – that don’t look like training bras. Longline bras trimmed with lace come with or without moulded cups – for modesty not vavavoom volume. Meanwhile, seam-free ribbed bralettes and bandeaus are offered in small sizes, designed to sit undetected under T-shirts and tanks.

Bonds also does an excellent T-shirt bra: its Originals Retro Rib bra feels like wearing your pyjamas outside, and with its 80s styling and range of neon colours can double as a gym crop.

That’s the case for many of the new wave of bralettes and crop tops – they are part of the broader trend towards activewear. Some do double-duty as swimmers, as is the case for Australian brands Bimby and Lo and Matteu.

While many underwire-free bras have a clean, comfortable, sporty aesthetic – the underwear equivalent of formal sneakers – some still emphasise sex appeal.

Ame Nue Intimates, established in 2018 by Pollyanna McNutt and Mira Vukovic, who had the cult noughties fashion brand Mad Cortes, makes highly sensual pieces with plenty of French lace and slippery silks but minimal underwire.

“I haven’t worn a bra with a wire for years now, and I guess people design what they love,” Vukovic says. “I think women of all sizes are starting to ditch the underwire and look for support in other ways.

“Women today want comfort, ease of wear and simple elegance. Bras are an item of clothing you need to wear daily, so they should bring you a certain element of joy – whatever your size.”

Brands to try

Bimby + Roy
Designed between Byron Bay and Melbourne and manufactured in Fiji, this brand of eye-catching, soft and stretchy separates was founded by two sisters who grew up in the Fiji Islands. Manufactured in what the pair claim is the first solar-powered facility in the region, the colourful bralettes and briefs can be worn in bed, in the water or under clothing, with prices starting from $30.

Dion Lee
Dion Lee debuted his first range of women’s lingerie on the runway during New York Fashion Week in 2018. As you’d expect from a high fashion designer, the delicate silk and lace soft-cup bras are made for layering under sheer pieces or revealing a glimpse of lace under shirting. They’re also not cheap – starting at $160.

Cotton On Body
The high street brand has a wide range of bralettes, bandeaus and crops at extremely wallet-friendly prices, mostly under $30. .

Bonds
As well as the retro rib bra, Bonds’ flex it bra ($29.95), wire free, comes with an adjustable racer back.

Lonely Lingerie

This New Zealand brand’s bestseller is the whisper-soft Bonnie scalloped lace bra, which comes in underwire and wire free ($115 and $105) to accommodate and emphasise all breast sizes and is reiterated in different pastels and brights each season.

Matteau
Yes, Matteau is an Australian swimwear brand but its minimalist bikini tops make excellent bras. The Trip Crop Top and Petite Triangle Top (both $135) are the best options for smaller busts and come in sweet Liberty-style prints as well as a range of solid colours. But do note the sizing runs small, so consider going up a size.

Ame Nue Intimates
High end and highly sensual, Ame Nue bras ($180-$200) are cut and stitched in Sydney.

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