The outdoor industry began offering a variety of sports bras a few years ago, but only recently has it refined the look, feel and comfort level to be something a woman wears not just for high-intensity activities, but for — gasp! — everyday use.
“Brands classify (sports bras as) low, medium, high, and we all think we want high, but the sports bra experience is more than just impact,” said Product Line Manager for Moving Comfort Rebecca Durivage-Jacobs. “It’s more about how the breast tissue is moving with the individual and her preference for comfort.” Although Moving Comfort has long been known for their high-compression numbers, its new Hot Shot (MSRP $42) provides security, but its minimal back coverage allows for maximum range of motion.
More brands are diversifying their collections, recognizing that a climber or casual hiker has different needs from a distance runner or CrossFit aficionado. The (long-awaited) result: “No banded, mushy, uni-boob look,” Jayme Mechur, senior marketing manager for 2XU, said. The anatomically designed cups in their Ultimate Endurance Bra (MSRP $80) separate the girls “making it look like you’re wearing a regular bra while getting the benefits of a high-impact sports bra,” Mechur said.
The Psyche collection from New Balance also takes into account the different needs of different women, and ladies can find the fit that’s just right for them with their online bra-sizing helper. New Balance’s custom-esque fit aims for strong support with a minimalist feel, as seen in the Seamless Genius I (MSRP $48).
Wool wizards like SmartWool and Icebreaker insist on using fine merino for next-to-skin comfort, even though synthetic materials are used on the outside layer to aid wicking power. “You use wool where it makes the most sense,” explained Molly Cuffe, global creative director for Smartwool. “It helps the body work more efficiently.” SmartWool’s PhD Seamless Long Bra (MSRP $80) resembles a tank but features a bra system far more supportive than the average afterthought of a shelf bra. Body-mapping technology allows for maximum comfort with maximum flexibility.
The “breathability” buzzword has caught on within the category with brands including mesh areas, vented panels or cutout zones. Designed with light aerobic activity in mind, Mountain Hardwear’s Mighty Activa Sportbra (MSRP $40) features peak-a-boo holes for added style with the bonus of breathability. Its soft hand has a cottony feel even though it’s made of polyester. “We know as a woman it’s part of your kit,” Mountain Hardwear’s Senior Product Line Manager for Men’s and Women’s Sportswear Jennifer Zollars said.
And because no woman has time for chafing, added padding in the straps and brushed seams aplenty adorn the outdoor brand bra offerings. Many even are going totally seamless.
-- Courtney Holden