I’ve been talking so much about the Love Nature Announcement, that I apparently forgot to announce it formally myself. So… here’s it is. In October I was told, “I am very sad to inform you that the production of LOVE NATURE has been blocked at the moment. We are reorganizing the concept of this line so we are taking some time how to proceed.”
Our most frequently asked for item is an organic or natural fiber bra without underwire that has padding. We’ve had a few close designs, but that perfect bra has eluded us. So what exactly is the issue with getting this holy grail of bras?
We have been lucky thus far to carry the most eco-friendly padded bras in the world. Love Nature, (the Italian company that recently went on [possibly permanent] hiatus), has been making organic cotton padded bras with an interior cotton batt for the padding. Conventional bras use either polyester or nylon for the interior padding, both of which are petroleum-based fabrics. The biggest difference in performance is that polyester can be molded to keep its shape and can be made in a variety of thicknesses. The cotton batting is designed similar to a quilt and can only keep its shape under certain thicknesses (on the lighter side of padding) and with the help of the underwire to support it. Love Nature only made underwire padded bras because their eco-padding required the firmness of the underwire to essentially hold it in place.
The lesson is that you can have eco-padding and underwire or conventional padding and no wire. At this point, it doesn’t seem you can have both.
In 2011, Blue Canoe came out with their Adjustable Soft Bra and Soft Cup Bra. Both of these bras have removable nylon pads that sit in organic cotton “pockets” and don’t touch the skin. These are both pull-on style bras, and in truth, we didn’t think they would do that well. But Blue Canoe is a trusted brand, so we tried them out… and they are flying out the door. There are just so many women who want an organic no wire, padded bra that they’re finding conventional padding and no wire the better option.
That said, allow us to introduce two fantastic no wire, padded bras with fully adjustable straps and 3-position back closures. At the top of this page, you’ll see the Body No Wire Padded Bra and here to the right is the Calais Lace No Wire Padded Bra. Both are made from a unique eco-fabric of white pine tree trimmings and dyed with OEKO-TEX 100 certified dyes. They do unfortunately have polyester padding, though it does not touch the skin.
On a side note, we’ve quietly had a no wire, padded bra with adjustable straps and 3-position back close all along. The Pine Tree Padded Bra has been around since 2009. However, the $80 price tag put it on a very slow sales track. Another issue with this particular bra is that the criss-cross straps in the back make it a bit awkward to put on. It has to first be pulled on over the head before you can secure the back hooks.
The Pine Tree Padded Bra was originally made end-to-end in France. As the company grew, they realized that despite having an awesome fabric their pricing was holding them back. A few years ago they re-branded as Do You Green and started having the garments sewn in Tunisia while keeping their unique fabric production local to where the pine tree trimmings are collected in France.
We took a look at them then, but were holding out hope that they would get a Fair Trade certification. We’ve just touched based again, and are happy to report they’ve gone one step further. Do You Green now has a dedicated factory in Tunisia that allows them to set their own high standards for employees, working conditions and the quality of their garments. It also allows them to offer their unique Pine Tree fabric garments at much more reasonable prices.
Getting back on topic, we’re unaware of any company in the world who has developed an eco-padded, no wire bra. We’re still looking, though. And if you ever see one, please let us know.
In the back of my head, I’d wanted to start my own organic clothing “brand” for some time now. But it took repeated loss of some of our best selling items for me to finally take the plunge. I have to say, my initial trepidation was not wholly unfounded. Designing and manufacturing are a completely different animal than retailing. There has been so much to learn, including a whole new vocabulary that I was completely unfamiliar with. Not unexpectedly, spending nearly 3 months focused on learning something entirely new and thus not spending that time on marketing, press releases, creative newsletters, web updates and other normal business tasks has had its effect on sales.
While it looks like my goal of having the first organic cotton panties for sale before the holidays is definitely not going to happen, we’re now far enough along that I can provide some details of what’s coming. Here’s what we’ve got so far…
There are still some vagaries in the schedule that could cause even more delays, but if all goes well, the initial launch of our new brand, Green Tree Organic Clothing, will be in early 2014. The roll-out of products will be in 3 phases spanning the entire year.
Phase 1: Five panty designs derived from previous best-sellers and a little inspiration, launching in January or February 2014
Phase 2: The addition of panties with lace trims, probably a thong style and possibly our first sports bra and/or cami – some time in Summer
Phase 3: Men’s underwear and whatever else on our list people have been asking for – maybe a simple unisex tee in more color options – hopefully in early Fall
Phases 2 and 3 are *very* vague still and could change. Phase 1 however, is really coming together. Here’s what to expect.
A Classic Bikini and a Hi Cut Brief in 5 colors (black, sweet pink, deep plum [bordeaux], white and undyed natural). Taking heed of feedback we’ve had on these styles, we’ve kept the same basic shape, but are using a slightly heavier fabric that will not only make these softer, but should also make them last longer. I’ve heard and experienced that the versions we currently carry get threadbare faster than some of the other styles. The new fabric has more cotton per square inch, and while it’s a tad more expensive, it should alleviate that issue. We’ve kept the same fold-over elastic styling that does touch the skin, but are using a latex-free version making them accessible to more customers.
|Hi Cut Brief|
For those with more acute sensitivities, we’ll have a Hipster style with completely covered elastic in black and undyed natural and have changed the design to include flat seam stitching for more comfort.
The last 2 are really fun styles and my personal favorites. We’re recreating the printed Eat Organic bikini from years ago and also adding a new printed style called Hearts A Flutter, which will be fun all year round and make a particularly awesome Valentine’s gift. The body is a bikini/hipster hybrid similar to the Eve Panty.
|Printed Panty Body|
I wanted to do the whole process right here in Oregon to keep it local and have more control over the quality. I mostly succeeded. The designs and pattern making were done in Portland. Tags are being produced in Portland as well. The cutting and sewing are being done about an hour away in Stanton, Oregon by a family-run shop that’s been in business for more than 20 years. Both the Pattern maker and cut and sew house are very small, home-based businesses just like Faerie’s Dance. I had to outsource the elastics and after a ridiculous amount of research and time, decided to have our organic cotton fabrics custom made in India.
While I had hoped to find a US-based fabric manufacturer, I found that the minimum orders for each color were substantially higher in the USA. More importantly, even though they were knitting here, all of the certified organic cotton was coming from Turkey or India anyway. (The USA does not grow enough organic cotton to meet its own usage.) By having it knit at the source I was able to get original documentation of the GOTS certification, work directly with a family-owned fabric maker who also does herbal dyeing (a good resource for future projects), and have the fabric made at a reduced price with substantially lower minimum quantities. In the USA, only 2 colors would have been feasible on the same upfront investment.
So that’s where we are so far. I hope some of you find this useful. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions already for Phases 2 and 3, but please keep them coming. The point is to design and manufacture what you are looking for, so please let us know.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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 166,625 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.