5 minutes with Stephanie Devine, Founder of Bras Without Wires
Stephanie Devine has swapped her days in recruitment to serve womankind through Bras Without Wires. Find out why they’re better for your health, wallet and the environment.
Given that 73% of women would choose to wear a wire-free bra if it offered the same support as a wired one – and 63% often sigh with relief when they take it off – I don’t think I’m going to be alone in falling in love with Bras Without Wires.
PLUS, Stephanie is kindly gifting 3 lucky CDK tribe members with their very own Bras Without Wires! For your chance to win one of the best wireless bras around, be sure to enter the giveaway.
I hope you enjoy this interview. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
Stephanie, can you tell us about how your inspiration for Bras Without Wires evolved?
Bras Without Wires started for me just over ten years ago when I received a shock breast cancer diagnosis. I had a biopsy Wednesday, got a call back Thursday and was booked in for surgery Monday morning 7am. My head was obviously spinning around the diagnosis and what it meant, but I also needed lots of practical things to get me through treatment, one of which was a cotton-lined, non-wired bra to wear during radiotherapy. Saturday I went off to DJs and the only such bras in my size (34DD) were either sports or maternity bras, and I’d just been told I would never have kids after chemo. It was just one more slap in the face and I literally left the shop in tears.
I felt that both as a woman and a consumer, I had ceased to exist.
Several years later, just off a long haul flight into the heat of a Sydney summer, I went into a beautiful upmarket lingerie store in Sydney and found myself in front of more lovely maternity bras. When I explained my situation to the assistant – ie, scar tissue, residual swelling post radiotherapy and a burning desire for a DD non-wired that didn’t look like something my grandma would wear, she said ‘there’s nothing for people like you’ and my blood boiled!
I set up the business in 2011 and as time went on, discovered that EVERYONE wanted non-wired bras! As I started to properly launch the business in 2015 with a backer, whenever I called anyone to set up a business account – customs, freight, couriers – each woman I spoke to picked up on the business name and expressed an interest, which is when we really knew we had something special.
So special! And now both you and the brand are thriving?!
I’m thrilled to report that 27th May 2017 marks the ten year anniversary of my last radiotherapy session and therefore the end of treatment. I feel very blessed, particularly as friends around me are diagnosed, and I’m taken back to exactly how the beginning of this extremely challenging and life-changing journey felt. Business has not been without it’s challenges! We had a false first start in year 1 which I feared was the end of the line, but when you truly believe in something it’s impossible to let go.
Getting through the last 2 years has drawn on all my reserves of strength and at times I wonder why I don’t just go and get a regular job again. However, as I said to a potential investor who tried to test my resolve by suggesting I just give up as it’s so hard, without even thinking about it I replied that giving up would be much harder than carrying on, however hard that was to be.
Bras without underwire or padding are not always a pretty sight. How have you created such flattering designs without compromising the essentials must-dos of a bra?
I honestly think that not coming from a lingerie background – but from a corporate career – has helped a lot. My constant refrain is ‘but why not?’! And the answer was frequently that this just wasn’t the way it was done, which proved not a strong enough argument for me! I have come at it from a completely different angle, from cutting up and sewing and stapling bits of material together to create the sort of design I really felt would work in a wireless bra even in larger sizes.
After getting the prototype shape and fit right, for me then it’s just about finding the most beautiful fabrics and elastics I want to work with. I feel straps are often overlooked and our bras are very much designed to be at least glimpsed, if not actually seen on occasion.
How is the comfort factor achieved whilst maintaining the ‘perky’ factor?
For me the key to comfort starts with the broader band which firmly anchors, and despite what people may think, is what provides the actual support (ie – not the wires). From there the foam-lined bras really help where women who’ve had kids feel less perky, giving great shape and support without the hard wires. In addition, our choice to always line with organic cotton (quietly fit for purpose for a woman going through radiotherapy, but great for everyone) means what lies next to the skin is soft, natural and breathable.
Are they suitable to be worn as a sports bra?
I don’t necessarily recommend as a sports bra, I myself wear an M & S sports bra, not pretty but fairly bomb-proof in my size. Our bras are very supportive – Bras Without Wires are great for yoga or pilates, but not necessarily for running. However as a DD or E cup I think something specifically designed and engineered specifically for sport would be more suitable.
Do you make push-up bras without underwires?
We’re all about natural fibres, shapes and comfort with premium style, so we don’t do a push up bra and are unlikely ever to. Women are beautiful as they are and we encourage them to dress for themselves, not to please anyone else.
Tell me more about the materials that are used to make the bras and why these are better for us than those used in conventional bras.
We work with really beautiful european fabrics at present, from France and Italy. We love their ethereal beauty, delicate yet hard-wearing colours, and silver and rose gold elements. We want these bras to wash and wear and last the test of time, so the fabrics we buy are expensive. We’d rather you bought two great bras a year than ten cheaper ones (40% of landfill is clothing – don’t even get me started on that one!). Our lace is Levers lace, made in France on old, traditional machines. Whilst all our bras are unique in being lined with organic cotton, our more everyday bras also have cotton outers. I’m a huge fan of show-off straps and so we often have a stripe of colour or metal. We choose fabrics that are made with minimal environmental impact, and safe and soft next to the skin. We are working on a new Tencel bra because of its super-sustainable credentials as well as its anti-bacterial properties.
Speaking from your experience, for women who are going through breast cancer treatment, how does wearing one of these compare to wearing a traditional (wire) bra?
Wearing a wire is not an option for a woman going through breast cancer – it’s the first thing you are told. You also wouldn’t want to as your flesh is swollen from surgery and radiotherapy, and sticking a hard wire against the tissue of your delicate and struggling lymphatic drainage system is as uncomfortable as it is unhealthy. Unfortunately, once you’ve lived without wire for 6-12 months, you won’t actually want to go back!
Are Bras Without Wires suitable for women who’ve had a mastectomy, and can they still use their mastectomy bra inserts?
We didn’t make specifically for mastectomy as this wasn’t my experience and we couldn’t reach the minimum quantities to manufacture for this speciality. That said, you can buy sew in cotton pockets from the big specialist firms like Ameona to parter with your comfortable, organic cotton bra from us. I know some of our customers have done this successfully.
If women are wondering where to buy mastectomy bras where would you recommend and would you buy mastectomy bras online?
Lastly, what’s next for Stephanie Devine and Bras Without Wires?
Well I’m close to finalising the design on a new, premium, fully compostable range of lingerie, my most exciting and innovative project yet! I feel passionately about the environment and I was horrified to learn that apparel is the second largest polluting industry on earth, behind oil and gas, and that 40% of landfill is clothing, toxic, fast-fashion clothing.
This line will draw attention and awareness to the fact that fast-fashion is killing people and communities globally, as well as damaging the environment. But in typical Bras Without Wires fashion, the aesthetic must also be beautiful and the bras more comfortable than ever. I am incredibly excited about this new project and if it comes off, it will be my proudest and most meaningful achievement to date.
Do you have a question for Stephanie, or thought to share? Pop it in the comment section below.
To learn more about Bras Without Wires and view the full collection, visit the website here.
P.S. Who are 3 women in your life who might also like Bras Without Wires? Help us spread the word and better support the health of not only womenkind but the environment, by sharing this with them now.
P.P.S. We’ve partnered with Stephanie to give 3 lucky CDK tribe members their own bras without underwire. For your chance to win, enter here now.