The Bra Lab, a side clasping bra with interchangeable straps, offers a comfortable, easy solution for travelers.
Gina Crevi, owner of two contemporary women’s boutiques in Illinois, noticed her customers were trying on clothes but wouldn’t buy certain pieces because they didn’t have the right bra for them. She had a background in art and design, so she started experimenting with cutting up her own bras to find a solution. Soon, she had sewed a prototype and filed for a patent.
Gina’s bra clasps on the side and comes with an array of shoulder and back straps. Women can mix and match and wear them in a huge number of ways, fitting under tricky necklines and strappy shirts and dresses. The back straps are designed to look like part of your outfit, so showing your bra can go from accidental to intentional.
Once Crevi realized her design would work, she started manufacturing small batches in Los Angeles.
“I got feedback from a lot of women, and they thought it was cool because a lot of bras don’t have supportive cups,” she says.
Unlike bandeaus, lacy bralettes, and other undergarments meant to be seen, The Bra Lab makes bras in actual cup sizes, with actual support.
“Women were struggling with bras that didn’t give support, or fell down,” Crevi says. “We cater to sizes from AA to DDD, with back straps from 30-38 inches, and we and have new cups coming out in G.”
Crevi soon enlisted the help of her sister Jennifer Prado, who had a finance background and stepped in to take over the business side, including logistics and manufacturing.
“I thought the idea was just fantastic,” Prado says. “It’s been a great journey, and has also been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. We’re doing everything from the ground up.”
One struggle for the founders was their lack of background in manufacturing. They had a hard time finding a pattern maker willing to work with a small company, especially on something as difficult as making a bra, which requires very specific molds. Once they found someone though, the company was quickly recognized for its innovative design and things spiraled from there.
Gina Fontanini, a friend and classmate of Prado’s, handles the marketing component of the company and says women love The Bra Lab bras because it allows them to get creative with their wardrobe.
“We try to show options and solutions for women by styling the bra differently in our campaigns, and by allowing them to get really into their personal style by using the brand,” she says. “You can be professional or funky, into vegan leather or romantic and lacy. The whole concept is that you can integrate so many ideas into a look and make it your own, and that’s what women want to do for their wardrobe. It inspires confidence.”
Building up women is part of the company’s mission.
“Our goal is to create a new style philosophy for the modern woman. To make underwear outerwear. Customizable, interchangeable and beyond functional. Fashion 2.0,” a ‘Womanifesto’ on the website reads.
There are two main components that make it work: high-quality design and craftsmanship, and ethically made products that have been sourced responsibly and are fair trade.
The company also has a social component. It works with Girl Talk Girl, which is a digital platform for women to use their mobile devices to tell stories.
“Women all over the world can talk about things they’re going through, and allow themselves to really feel safe in a place concerning issues bothering them, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally,” Fontanini says.
The Bra Lab gives a portion of sales to the organization, which is currently working on a campaign between New York City and St. Petersburg, where girls from across the world talk to each other.
“It helps girls see that no matter where we are, we are more likely than not going through a lot of the same things as other women,” Fontanini says.
The Bra Lab is the only bra of its kind, and Crevi says she is working to expand offerings all the time. It was inspired by ready-to-wear street style, and while that is still the case, she’s also looking at what customers want.
“People really like the lace styles and the black,” she says. “We’re coming out with a push-up, which I think will be popular too.”
The beauty of the new designs from a consumer perspective, is that because they’re interchangeable they can be used with the products you already own. You can buy one bra and keep buying accessories to update your wardrobe.
This is especially helpful for travelers, as you can pack just one bra, then grab the straps you’ll need on your trip, rather than packing four bras when you know you’re going to wear one only once with a specific outfit. They also come with a travel bag, so you can pack it all away nicely.
“The biggest point of importance for us is that we want to be a solution for women to have a supportive option and feel confident,” Crevi says. “We want everything to fit nicely, so women can buy clothes they really love and feel secure. We want you to wear your clothes, we don’t want them to wear you, and we want our customers to be able to portray the natural women within herself.”