In my previous life, I was a computer programmer and all around Math geek, and lately, I have been getting in touch with my roots with a book entitled How Math Explains the World by James D. Stein. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s nice, but what the heck does that have to do with bras or lingerie?” Well, one of the frequent trends I observed throughout the history of the field is how so many brilliant minds of the time hit insurmountable roadblocks on a given problem. In many instances, the failure to progress originates because the men and women tackled the problem using the same tools as their mentors and/or predecessors without imagining another, possibly revolutionary technique. It was only when young, fresh-eyed mathematicians entered the picture that solutions were found (or sometimes proven not to exist). Does this remind anyone of the lingerie world at all? I know I, along with other bloggers and our shared readers, have complained not only about aesthetic retreads across fashion seasons but also how new styles are fraught with the same fit issues as the original. Entire demographics are never represented, and we hear from the titans of the lingerie industry that they just can’t figure out how to help these women or how to address the problems.
Enter industrial engineers Sophia Berman and Laura West. Upon reflecting that the bras have essentially been evolving from corsets, they decided it was time to rethink the problem:
We are both product designers by training. We worked as both consultants and in corporate environments designing and managing for others before we decided to tackle a problem that is very close to home. As two friends who were dissatisfied with bras as they were, we hated how they wouldn’t last long, how they were always a bother and how honestly, they didn’t do much to take the weight off our backs (literally) even with professionally sized and fitted bras.
We started this venture as a side project, with a strong passion for wanting to solve this problem. We became so enamored with where we were going that we quit our jobs to pursue this full time. We’re now about a year in, we have our first collection finalized, and we’re gearing up to launch our Kickstarter.
Our new system of support is unlike anything else on the market today. It was developed from an engineering standpoint, focusing first on function (placing the support where it REALLY matters). From there, we designed a line of classic, beautiful bras that we feel many different women can relate to. We are pairing high tech, innovative fabrics with feminine, modern laces to blend comfort with fashion.
When I heard how they were attempting to not only eschew the traditional underwire design without treading into the full coverage, often-matronly soft cup territory, I was intrigued. As they were finalizing design ideas and preparing for their Kickstarter campaign, they offered me a chance to review a hand-made prototype in my size—a first for my little blog. Consequently, the pictures and fit you are about to see are not the final product, and as such, there are a few areas which are rough around the edges or need improvement. Please be open-minded as you read my initial impressions.
Trusst Lingerie had me measure for the correct size using a pretty interesting technique which I do not see on their website at the moment. Instead of the standard underbust/bust measurements, they wanted me to place my larger breast on a piece of paper and trace around it. From there, I measured the effective root of the breast as well as the perimeter. It was a little tricky to ensure all of my tissue was on one piece of paper, and it may be easier if you have someone who can trace for you. For comparison, I also measured directly on my body and found the measurements comparable. Ultimately, they sent me the 32J which is roughly a UK 32GG. I think I needed a 32K as I do get some overflow if I do a full scoop, but the band feels true to size and quite comfortable. Given that I am wearing a 32H to HH these days, I think the entire system is pretty consistent to what you would expect with UK brands.
Instead of using underwire to tack in the center and encapsulate tissue, Trusst, so named for the trusses in bridges, utilizes a high tech suspension piece made from 3-D printing technology to rest against the ribcage and lift from the bottom. Now, obviously, this is pretty outside-the-box thinking here, but the question remains “Does it actually work?” Based on the prototype I was given, I think they’re off to a great start. The bra does provide impressive lift, and the flexible, 1″ wide side stays keep tissue from becoming too East-West. However, my main gripe is with the shape of the composite. The center does not tack properly, and when examined from the side, a visible lump exists where the harder support piece ends and tissue begins. If the designers tweak the shape of this element, I think we could be looking at a unique product on the market. Furthermore, if the piece sits flatter against my sternum and the straps were either fully-adjustable or shorter, the lump would be more minimized, thus improving the overall shape.
On the positive side, the seven hook-and-eye closures in the back as well as the inherent longline shape feels amazing and extremely supportive. Because of the shape issue, I don’t anticipate using this as “going out” bra, but the comfort is perfect for a lounge/weekend piece. While underwires have never bothered me per se, I did find it refreshing to have the height on the side of a Comexim/Anna Pardal bra without the underwire there, and the support piece did not feel uncomfortable at all even when sitting. In the future, I think I’d like to see them work with its overall shape and maybe create a version which has a narrower center gore for close-set breasts. While the center height is very low (and thus very comfy for me), I think a narrower gore area would help with those shape/fit issues.
While I know the pictures of the bra do not showcase the polished finishing touches you expect from other manufacturers, I think we really need to keep in mind that this is truly a prototype piece which will be improved on in the future. Plus, this had to be hand-made for me, so there are ares where the lace has rolled up a bit or where the strap could be shorter. Having said that, I do find the fabrics to be very soft. PJs could be made of the fabric lining the entire interior of the bra. That’s right. It doesn’t just stop on the inside of the cup but instead extends onto the wings for a comfortable, breathable fit which lessens the pressure on the skin. Furthermore, the delicate lace exterior is also a higher quality and not abrasive. Sometimes laces can feel very scratchy, but this one is lightweight and smooth.
From the prototype alone, I can visualize how much potential this bra has, even from aesthetic point of view. For some reason, I am addicted to black bras lately (maybe it’s the ease of finding matching undies? Eh, I don’t know), and I love the appeal of the lace overlay here as well as the way it extends up to become a sheer cup and then a sheer shoulder. A fully-adjustable strap or a shorter strap may be necessary for future versions to fit more people, but I just love how the sheer lace extends upward. One of the goals with this bra was to support the breasts without relying on the straps, and I have to say the bra does succeed here quite well, meaning there is less stress and tension on the shoulders than in other bras. Fully-finished, I envision this bra to be a stunning combination of sophistication and elegance for the fuller bust.
If any of this has intrigued you, I encourage you to not only visit their website but also read this article where they discuss the process further. Also, consider donating to the Kickstater Campaign:
We are launching our Kickstarter on April 22nd – it serves as a platform to reach as many people as possible during our product launch. We are excited to be giving women the opportunity to be one of the first to buy one of our bras before we sell them through our own e-commerce site.
I know many of us are used to the standard ways bras are made, but I think it’s important to explore alternatives, particularly since many women are forced to settle or struggle with comfort issues because of the current options on the marketplace. When we support small businesses like this one who are attempting to do something different, there’s no telling how we can reshape the face of the lingerie market and what new solutions we will find.
P.S. I did not shoot a video for this piece since it is still in the prototype phase. Once the tweaks are implemented and a final product is released, I would love to reevaluate and then include a video.
UPDATE: Since not everyone reads the comments section, I want to update my post here in the hopes more people will see it. Since launching their Kickstarter campaign, Trusst has received sharp criticism, on several platforms, regarding their support system and the overall shape of the bras. Before I address this, I want to note that I am not attacking any individual nor am I denying anyone the right to an opinion or the right to criticize. I am not here to censor anyone. What I want to discuss is the importance of remembering that we are looking at prototypes from a group of women trying to address a problem they noticed in the marketplace. This is not a multimillion dollar company with large design teams and resources. The Trusst ladies are trying to offer a different solution than what conventional manufacturers already produce, and whether or not you have faith in the prototypes does not change the fact they put their hearts into a business and tried to offer something unique.
The bras we see on the marketplace now are the evolution of styles dating back to the 1950s and have been tweaked and revamped by multiple designers across a long time frame. Trusst is in the early stages of development, and it’s natural to have failings. I am hard-pressed to think of many things which are perfect at the start. These improvements require time, and they require money. Some complaints have focused on the poor construction in some areas, which is a valid point. The strap was twisted on one side, and there were issues with the lace rolling. Again, I feel like this is part and parcel for being a prototype design, especially one hand-made quickly. It’s true they may have sold their products better with a prototype with nice finishing touches and details, and I hope they will learn from this experience in any future PR work. In this line, while many people may disagree with their decision to go to Kickstarter without a perfected prototype, I imagine they probably need more funding to continue forward. I don’t see why it matters so much that the prototype is not perfected. They are not misrepresenting their products, and the photos of the women in the campaign show the bras as they currently are. They aren’t attempting to deceive any of their donors, and if a person sees these designs and thinks it’s not worth their money, they aren’t obligated to contribute.
Having said all of this, I do think constructive criticism is essential to furthering the design process, and I hope people will continue to weigh in with thoughts on how it could be improved. It has bothered me the last couple of days because some people have taken their campaign as an opportunity to mock them for doing something which is exceptionally hard for most us: letting our ideas out into the world and listening to what people think of them.