On average women own five to eight bras each. And according to a report conducted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2017, which was cited in the Guardian, the fashion industry is responsible for 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year globally – more than is spat into the atmosphere than international air travel. The report also reveals that a truckload of clothing is wasted every second across the world, while the average number of times a garment is worn has deceased by 36 per cent globally in the past 15 years.
The report said more than half of “fast” fashion produced is disposed of in less than a year. Globally, customers miss out on $460 billion of value each year by throwing away clothes that they could continue wearing.
When she heard this, Sydney lingerie designer Stephanie Devine (who is behind Bras Without Wires, an online store selling wire-free bras) reset her approach to fashion. Once she understood the consequences of unsustainable fashion production there was no turning back.
“As a lingerie designer, I knew I had to help in changing the way we manufacture and consume going forward. Now I live by the mantra, ‘buy less, buy better’,” she says.
“I don’t come from the fashion industry, so the more I learnt about how detrimental clothing manufacturing can be, the more I wanted to do something.”
And so the idea for The Very Good Bra was born in Sydney's Bondi. It’s a black undergarment that’s completely biodegradable, so when you’re done with it you can bury it in your backyard. Devine says it’s the world’s first zero-waste bra and while there are a number of well-known sustainable underwear labels, Broadsheet was unable to find any competitors who manufacture zero-waste bras in 24 real cup sizes.
A crowdfunding campaign to fund the production of wire-free and toxin-free lingerie will go live on Kickstarter on May 19. “The fashion industry is the second-largest polluting industry behind oil and gas. I wanted to create something that is pure, that won’t leave any toxic waste on Earth,” says Devine.
Made from a tencel, which is derived from wood, in this case from eucalyptus trees, this bra uses a fraction of the amount of water that cotton manufacturing does (it can take more than 20,000 litres to grow one kilogram of cotton). It also retains moisture and has strong anti-bacterial properties.
“Tencel fibers are softer than cotton and wool. They reduce skin irritation and feel really soft while still having strong fibers. The fabric is completely botanic, chemical free and comfortable,” says Devine.
After breast cancer surgery, Devine struggled to find a bra that was suitable to wear during radiotherapy.
“I couldn’t find the right bra for treatment; [I have a] smaller frame, but I have D-cup-size breasts. It was an absolutely defining moment for me – I wanted [a wire-free bra] in organic cotton that would work for my treatments,” she says.
If the project receives enough funding from its Kickstarter campaign, the bra will go into production and will retail for $89.95. It’ll be available in 24 cup sizes and will come with a pair of matching black boyshorts. Devine hopes the pre-sale of The Very Good Bra will raise enough funds to keep the production running.
“I believe whatever lies next to your skin should be pure and clean, so I would love to do more with sustainable fashion, perhaps more colours or even … menswear. A zero-waste empire.”
To purchase The Very Good Bra or contribute to the Kickstarter campaign visit The Very Good Bra on May 19 this year. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal.