Who made my Bra? Ideas for building an ethical lingerie wardrobe

As you know, we are in the middle of the Fashion Revolution Week, that’s why I decided to write a post about lingerie (Oh, what a surprise! 😉 ) but this time from the ethical perspective: if you make lingerie at home, I’m sure you’re well aware of the challenges that surround the making of a single garment. Cutting and sewing a bra can take hours, and it demands a higher attention to detail than other garments: a difference as small as 5mm can completely change the fit of the cup!Who Made my bras

Workers at the lingerie industry face all these challenges too, but much more increased: they don’t make one bra a day, they make hundreds! Bras and panties are basic needs and people are wearing and buying them every day… but also throwing them away without thinking about the hours of intensive labour behind them.

So, what can we do to be more conscious and responsible about our lingerie habits? How can we build an ethical lingerie wardrobe?

1. Buy sensibly

  • When buying lingerie, try to find locally made garments (brands that make their garments in your own country are more likely to treat their workers better than the ones that outsource their production, looking for places where the salaries are lower and the laws protecting the workers are very weak) or support indie designers. Also, you can look for bras and panties made with sustainable fabrics.
AYTEN GASSON – Alexia Peace Silk Bralet – Made using 100% cruelty free silk and manufactured in Britain – Image via Ayten Gasson
  • Choose quality over quantity: if your budget can afford it, it’s better to buy one good bra that lasts longer than several low quality bras for a fraction of the price. They will wear out much faster!
  • Be curious: if you’re unsure about the policies of a particular brand or designer, maybe you can find out more at the “About” section on their webpage. And if you aren’t in a “Detective Mood”, here’s a list of… 60 ethical lingerie brands! Enough to get started, right? 😉
LAYLA L’OBATTI for Between the Sheets – Arabesque Bralette – Made in NYC, 100% silk – Image via Betwen the Sheets

2. Make the best of what you’ve got

  • Keep your intimates in good conditions (hand-wash them, do not tumble-dry, etc…), so they last longer.
  • Mend and Repair: if your bras or panties have minor damages, you can try to repair them and extend their life before throwing them away. There’re tons of tutorials about how to make small repairs to your bra!
CLARE BARE – Twice Shy Garter Short – Made in LA from hand dyed bamboo jersey – Image via Clare Bare

3. Or… Do it yourself!

  • Well, that’s one way of making sure that the person who is making your bras is happy with their job 😉 If you know your way around a sewing machine, you can make your own bra for sure!
NAJA – Anais Bra Royal Hound – Naja is a brand who primarily employs single mothers or female heads of households, and uses recycled fabrics and hand-harvested Peruvian cotton in most of its designs – Image via NAJA
  • Don’t be intimidated, the Internet is bursting with helpful tips about bra-making (you can start from this very blog! 😛 But I also recommend checking out amazing blogs like Clothhabit or Emerald Erin) and there are lots of bra patterns (both for unwired bras like the Watson, or for underwired bras like the Marlborough or the PUG’s Classic bra, and maaaany more!). Also, I highly recommend going to the facebook Bra-Making Forum group: those skilled ladies (and some gentlemen!) have the answer to all of your questions 😉
SILVER LINING

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