The End of Bgreen or Where Have All the Organic Panties Gone?

In the last few years, we have continued to lose best-selling panty styles.  First the cheeky Eat Organic bikini creators moved on to other ventures.  Then the whole line of PantyBoo bamboo underwear was discontinued.  Perfectly Imperfect, with their adorable lace-trimmed organic cotton panties and cross-your-heart thongs, went out of business.  Ecoland got mired in manufacturing issues and has not re-made their very popular hipster 2-pack in over a year.  The Love Nature Alba Bikini gave way to the more expensive ribbed version.  And finally, we’ve just lost our bgreen account.

After we’d been a wholesale client with bgreen for about 4 years, they decided to start selling retail.  Sadly, a few years on and they’ve now decided they can earn more money and better control pricing along with how their brand is portrayed by ONLY selling retail.  And alas, we can no longer restock any of their products including our #1 bestselling item in the entire store for the last 3 years running – the organic cotton Classic Bikini. 

As a quick side note, I have a lot of respect for bgreen.  They’re a vertically-integrated, eco-manufacturer working entirely in the USA and that’s really commendable.  However, one of the reasons they have a solid brand that they are concerned about maintaining a good reputation for, is that small businesses like mine have been selling and promoting their products and brand for many years.  So being cut out as it were, is very disheartening.

Over the course of the last 7 years, we’ve brought in a whopping 105 different styles of women’s panties. 37 are already permanently gone and 27 of the ones we’re still offering cannot be restocked.  And while my Things To Do List is already quite full, I’ve decided to make designing and launching our own organic panty line a priority.  I’m looking into branding it with a different name, (because I don’t think when we get to men’s underwear many of them will want to wear boxers labeled “Faerie’s Dance”… 🙂 and am hoping to launch the first couple of styles before the holidays if everything goes smoothly.

It will likely take more than a little while to bring in all the styles, fabrics and designs I’ve got in mind.  But the patterns and specs for the first two panties are complete and fabric samples are now rolling in. Thank you all for your continued patronage.  I hope you’ll love the new panties and look forward to getting started on this new venture.

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Give-a-Way: Win a “Sublime” Organic Cotton French Bra

If you’ve been following FaeriesDance.com, you’ll know we’ve recently moved to Oregon.  For the last few months we’ve made offers on 3 properties and been in and out of escrow.  The property search and move have been unbelievably time consuming!  Now that we’re somewhat settled, I wanted to get back in to blogging and sharing information.  But alas, having been completely out of touch for nearly 5 months and still owing the community several videos on bra sizing and fit, I found myself unsure of where to start.

The obvious answer… by offering up a give-a-way!  Everyone likes a chance at free stuff and our new Sublime lingerie line from Peau-Ethique is stunning.  So let’s start with some free products and we’ll work our way back into sharing information.

The Sublime line consists of 3 different bras as well as the first organic cotton corset we’ve ever seen!  The winner will be able to choose from any one of the 3 bras in their size.  Sizes range from 30A to 38DD depending on the style.

Enveloping Underwire Bra
Padded Underwire Bra

No Wire Bra

2 WAYS TO ENTER

  1. Leave a comment on this blog post by Sunday, July 29 2012. You must include an e-mail address or phone number so we can contact you. Drawing will be held on Monday, July 30.
  2. Leave a comment on our Facebook post announcing this Give-a-way.  In that case, we’ll contact you through Facebook if you win.

Either entry method is fine, but only 1 entry per person.  Winners first name will be announced on this blog and on Facebook.

BONUS GIVE-A-WAY!
Help spread the word about FaeriesDance.com’s facebook page.  If we get to 300 “Likes” before the end of the contest, we’ll also give-a-way one of our best-selling Alba bras to a second winner.

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Bras, Bras, Bras! Episode 2 – The History of the Bra

Discerning the true history of the bra has taken longer than expected as there is quite a bit of conflicting information on who wore bra-like instruments, starting when, and how they evolved into today’s modern bra.  One of the interesting facts that I was able to uncover is that there is no evidence that women in the 1960s ever actually burned bras in protest.  It appears to be a myth, but I’ll get to that in order.

It is widely believed that Minoan Civilization living on the island of Crete from roughly 2700 BC – 1500 BC were the first to wear breast-enhancing garments.  Note that these weren’t actually bras as the breasts were generally left uncovered as depicted in this Minoan snake goddess image on the left.  However, the garment lifted the breasts giving them both form and support.

In both Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, women’s breasts went mostly uncovered.  The ancient Greeks did have a type of bustier called an apodesme which consisted of thin wool or linen ribbons.  Some sources say it tied under the bust for support while leaving the breasts bare, while others claim it tied around the bust but was only used for sport to provide support.

By 300 AD, the Roman Empire was using a type of bikini for breast support in sports.  The “bikini girls” mosaic found in the Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily depicts women in garments that look very much like modern day bikinis engaged in everything from weight lifting to discus throwing and ball games.

Sources on Roman women’s clothing also mention the Fascia, a bra-type garment that was tightly tied around a woman’s breasts.  Some authors state the garment was actually used on younger women specifically to restrict breast growth, but I was unable to find corroborating evidence in historical references.  In the 13th and 14th centuries, breasts were being de-emphasized as much as possible.  The first corset-like garments had come on the scene, but were meant to flatten and minimize the breasts.  An edict of Strasbourg dated 1370 states “no woman will support the bust by the disposition of a blouse or by tightened dress.”

The Renaissance Era brought about a breast enhancement revival with the development of the corset, which cinched the waist and pushed the breasts up to increase the cleavage.  Corsets were made with flexible material such as leather or cloth and then stiffened with boning.  The boning could be made from whale bones, reeds, wood, steel or even ivory.  Modern corsets are still made for Renaissance Faires today and usually have plastic boning.

World War I marked the end of the corset era.  Women started working in factories for the first time, and corsets could be cumbersome and dangerous.  Both the US and Britain discouraged women from buying corsets with steel boning, as the metal was needed for the war effort.  Several reports claim that in 1917 the corset boycott saved 28,000 tons of steel – enough for 2 battleships.

The first American brassiere patent was issued in 1914 to Mary Phelps Jacob, who had sewn together two silk handkerchiefs with some ribbon to create something she could wear with her evening gowns that was more comfortable and would not show. 

It was labeled the Backless Brassiere.  There is an earlier patent from 1859 on a prototype bra made by Henry Lesher of New York.  However, his invention had inflatable pads and was actually designed to help women who had uneven breasts look more symmetrically round.  It was also designed to soak up perspiration.  So it wasn’t a support or enhancement garment per se.

During the 1920’s women were wearing bandeau-style bras that held the breasts in and down causing the boyish silhouette associated with the Flappers.  However, Ida Kaganovich, founder of Maidenform, felt this flattened look was going against nature.  She is credited as the designer of today’s modern bra, including the modern sizing method broken into band and cup measurements that are still used today.

In 1928 Ida’s Maiden Form dress shop sold 500,000 bras that were designed to separate and support the breasts.  Within a decade, Maiden Form bras were sold in department stores worldwide.  Up until 1997, the Maidenform brand remained a family own business.  Today, it’s traded on the New York Stock Exchange under MFB.  Unfortunately, Maidenform doesn’t currently make any organic cotton or sustainable bras.

There is a charming report from 1942, during the second World War, in the diaries of Hermione Llewellyn whereby Hermione claimed in front of the Duke of Gloucester that the war-induced rubber shortage would be worse for woman than men because rubber was so widely used in women’s undergarments. A month and half later, she received a package from the Duke. According to her diary, “A magnificent parcel, covered in tape and seals, arrived for me from India. Inside were two pairs of old-fashioned corsets with bones and laces. They were sent by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. Nick and I had an argument as to how one should thank one of the Royal Family for a present of corsets. Whichever way we put it looked disrespectful. Finally, we sent a telegram saying: ‘Reinforcements received. Positions now held. Most grateful thanks.’” (Thanks to Grace from Newport who sent me this lovely story.)

In 1947, Frederick Mellinger of Hollywood invented the first push-up bra dubbed The Rising Star.  By 1964, Louise Poirier of Canada had develop a deeply plunged, laced push-up bra dubbed the Wonderbra Model 1300 that largely resembles current designs.

There is some belief that bra sales and development stalled in the 1960s and 1970s due to the bra-burning protests of the feminist era.  However, according to Snopes.com, there is no evidence of actual bra burnings.  In 1968 feminists protested the Miss America Pageant by throwing items of their oppression into a “freedom trash can.” Among these items of oppression were girdles, high-heeled shoes, some bras, copies of Playboy magazine, and hair curlers.  However, the items were thrown out, not burned.

In 1977 Hinda Miller and Lisa Lindahl created the first sports bra by sewing 2 jock straps together and calling it a Jogbra.  In the1990’s two profound influences on bras emerged.  Madonna wore her cone bras out in public, and is credited with changing the public perception of undergarments.  More importantly, several manufacturers, including Blue Canoe, started making bras and underwear out of organically grown cotton without modern chemical finishing agents. 

Today our bra options are nearly endless and happily, more and more manufacturers are getting on board with producing sustainable bras.  The padded, push-up bra of the late twentieth century is now available made from breathable and soft organic cotton with low impact dyes.

Want to know more about the bras history? If you’ve got $28.95 burning a hole in your pocket (and you’ve already purchased all of the organic bras you need from FaeriesDance.com J), you might consider the comprehensive history book, Bra: Webster’s Timeline History, 789 – 2007.  At 194 pages long, you should get a bit more detail.

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Bras, Bras, Bras! Episode 1 – Bizarre Bra and Breast facts

I was planning to start off the formal series with the history of the bra (which dates back more than 4000 years!). But in my research, I came across such a wide array of bizarre information that didn’t really fit anywhere in the series that I decided to start with a list of fun facts.

  • Approximately $16 billion dollars are spent annually on bra purchases worldwide. That’s $16,000,000,000.
  • The average woman in America owns 9 bras.
  • On October 27, 1999, two women were reportedly killed when lightning struck the underwire in their bras. This wasn’t the first report of bras attracting lightning. In 1982, the Rome News-Tribune reported a similar incident, and there are references to 1991 underwire strike as well.
  • According to National Geographic, women’s breasts average from 10 ounces to 20 lbs.
  • Annie Hawkins-Stone holds the Guinness Record for having the largest natural (no implants) breasts at size 102ZZZ and weighing in at approximately 56 lbs.
  • The worlds longest bra chain comes in at 166,000 bras. This may seem like a trivial record, but several organizations around the world, including GirlGuiding NZ are using their attempt to break the longest bra chain record as a way to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. You can donate unwanted bras to them and at the end of the record they will send all of the good condition bras to women in need in Africa, Haiti and the Pacific Islands.
  • Despite rumors that wearing an underwire bra can cause breast cancer, scientists, including the director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, say that’s simply not true.
  • Researchers are designing and have patented a bra that can detect breast cancer in the very early stages of development.
  • Japan’s Triumph International lingerie company has some outrageous bra ideas and has come up with anti-smoking bras, heated bras to prevent colds, and bras that turn into shopping bags.
Photo Source: Japan Today
Check back next week to learn the long history of the bra.
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Bras, Bras, Bras! A Series on the History, Sizing, Fit and Functionality of the Bra

Lately the vast majority of the customer questions we’re getting are about bras.  What size bra should I get? Underwire or wireless? Padding versus No Padding? International sizing?  Which styles have the most support? Which are latex-free? Which are best for my body shape? Etc., etc. 

Our last give-a-way – for the allergen-free bras – got more entries than any other contest we’ve ever run.  And of course, we all know how difficult it is to find clean, organic bras that are chemical free and sustainably produced.

So I’ve decided to offer up a series on bras, focusing on organic cotton and sustainable bras, of course.  Over the next month or so, I’ll be providing everything (that I can think of) you’ve ever wanted to know about bras.  So here’s what I have in mind.  Please leave a comment if there’s something else you want to know and I’ll make sure it gets in.

  • The History of the Bra: Where it came from and how it has evolved.
  • Bra Sizing: How to determine what size you are and the conversion to international sizing.
  • Top Bra Styles by Body Type: Which bra “features” flatter your body.

For today, let’s start off with my story.  So, how did FaeriesDance.com get to have (what I’m pretty sure is) the largest selection of eco-lingerie in the country?  The story goes like this…

Before I became environmentally conscious about everything, bra shopping was my secret salve.  Whenever I’d get depressed about something or needed a quick pick-me-up, it was off to the mall for the perfect bra.  Underwire, push-up, plunge, padding, lace, it was all good.  My lingerie drawer was better stocked than some restaurant kitchens.  And it never failed me.  As long I could find a good bra, life went beyond just bearable to fabulous, even if only temporarily.

You see there’s something luscious about wearing stunning lingerie – even boyfriendless – because lingerie is your own little secret.  Work can be overwhelming, the house can be a mess, you can argue with your family, but underneath your clothing, where no one else can see, you have… ARMOR.  That’s right, beautiful, sexy, feminine, armor.  The perfect, outrageous purple lace bra is as good as a bullet-proof vest when it comes to deflecting negativity.  And if the day happens to be going well anyway, that quick trip the rest room and peek at your hot pink panties will bring an extra smile to your face every time.  I like colors.  Oh sure, I’ve got white and nude for those days with a crisp white collared shirt, but any big sweater was always hiding something bright and cheerful.

But then I started learning.  I learned about the pesticides used in crops and what it does to the water, soil and wildlife in the area.  I learned about chemical finishing agents and what they do to the workers who handle them, the towns that have to deal with the toxic wastes and even the impacts on our own bodies as we wear them.  I learned about sweatshop labor, about appalling working conditions, subsistent wages and 6 year olds working 12-hour days.  I saw our culture being controlled by energy needs, and oil, and terrorists.  And suddenly, I couldn’t go bra shopping anymore and chinks developed in my armor.

So what’s a girl to do faced with the destruction of our planet, our home and our way of life?  Well in my case, I opened my own eco-boutique specializing in organic bras.  Now, not only am I my own best customer, but with my armor restored, I want to help all those other women who need better, more luscious, sexier, prettier under armor without all the bad stuff.

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Your favorite lingerie – satin, lace and Formaldehye?

Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  So it might surprise you to find out that there’s probably formaldehyde in your underwear, albeit at very low levels.

Formaldehyde has been used for years on a variety of clothing as a finishing agent.  It contributes to the stain-free, wrinkle-free and static-free properties of a garment.  The low levels of the chemical used in clothing have historically been considered safe.

However, last year Victoria’s Secret got hit with a lawsuit after one woman started developing welts and rashes after wearing one of their bras.  The lawsuit snowballed and there is now a class action suit against Victoria’s Secret.  I’m not sure that this is really a “fair” lawsuit, since you’d very likely find the same chemicals in bras purchased from the mall or any *mart store.  Additionally, some people are very sensitive to certain chemicals, while others may wear the same garment for years without issue.

All that being said, even if formaldehyde is harmless at low levels and can be removed with a few good washings, do you really want it in your underwear?  You may not be chemically sensitive, but… yuck!  Let’s not get all gloomy now, though.  FaeriesDance.com quite happily offers more than 3 dozen panty options and 2 dozen bras all sans formaldehyde.  Now that’s something to dance about.

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