I've always had a bit of a thing about bras. I've loved lingerie from a young age, but I was always frustrated about the lack of 'pretty things' in larger cup sizes. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2006 and required to wear a wire-free bra with a cotton lining for 7 months of treatment, my frustration with bras grew to a fever pitch! So much so, that 5 years out, I decided to do something about it and set up a business called Bras Without Wires, which focussed solely on beautiful wire-free bras, lined with organic cotton, and made in 24 proper sizes.
All seemed well for a while, but the more I learned about fashion as an industry, the more I felt I needed to raise awareness about the impact of fast fashion. In the end, the best way for me to do this, was by trying to create the world's first zero-waste bra. It was years in the making, during which time I left Bras Without Wires to focus solely on this sustainable option which was tremendously challenging. It took years for me to source and custom-make all the seperate components.
Having finally got there, I wasn't sure whether people would actually buy this product. Were people like me who love lingerie, really prepared for the compromise associated with a bra with no spandex? and with un-brushed tree-rubber elastic straps?! We've become accustomed to lingerie that looks and feels exquisite, but which is largely made from synthetic materials that take over 200 years to break down. Would women really put their money where their mouth is?
The Very Good Bra launched via Kickstarter campaign with a modest $20,000 goal which, incredibly, was reached in the first 48 hours, and the campaign went on to sell over 1000 items, closing at 350% of original goal. We were in business thanks to our wonderful influencers and bloggers and backers and true believers! We had great press coverage globally, which led me to think about what next.
It felt like we needed something simpler, a zero-waste solution to everyday life that could apply to different genders and age groups. Thinking about Christmas coming up and the waste involved in that, I decided sleepwear was where it's at. A short survey reinforced our followers' appetite for this idea, and a real will to, even in a tiny way, modify the consumerist behemoth that Christmas has become.
This survey also gave strong cues on preferred colour options (I swear there will be Navy, pink and green if these grey and black sell well!) as well as the styles you'd like.
You may ask, 'why another crowdfund?' Well apart from the financial outlay to launch new products within a new brand, crowdfunding/pre-sales allows us to only make up the stock that you want, thereby minimising manufacturing waste. We've all heard the recent shocking stories about big-name European fashion brands burning excess stock in order to 'maintain' the value fo their brand. Whilst we kind of psychologically understand that as 'brand preservation' due to scarcity, it doesn't sit well with me and would actually put me off buying that brand going forward. I'd prefer the rarity of a great vintage item, rather than one which is rare because the ones just like it that didn't sell got destroyed. We've set a goal, but don't worry, we will manufacture orders in November no matter what.
I hope this idea of a 'compostable Christmas' brings you some joy this year. Your misery has been heartfelt around the inevitable waste and the sense of guilt and ingratitude at a time which was traditionally all about generosity and gratitude. There's more to write on that, but for now, I hope you sign up for updates on The Very Good Sleep, which will launch 28th September.