Sports bras are a complicated beast. We need them to provide the right amount of compression for the activity we’re doing…super tight when we’re running, looser when we’re doing yoga and totally relaxed when we stroll to the farmer’s market as our workout for the day. But since there isn’t a single bra that can accomplish all of these things, we’re often faced with the awkward situation of leaving the gym in a tight-fitting bra, only to feel suffocated. A Reebok designer invented a new fabric that stiffens when you’re moving and relaxes when you’re still. No more feeling suffocated by your bra. They recently launched the PureMove that adapts to your movements, tightening up when you’re moving fast and relaxing when you’re not. It deploys a radical new technology that has the potential to change not just what consumers expect from sports bras, but from the entire activewear industry.
The creation of the bra was spearheaded by Danielle Witek, a Reebok designer who stumbled upon the technology while thumbing through a science journal (something she does for fun). In 2005, chemical engineers at the University of Delaware had invented a new substance called Shear Thickening Fluid, a gel-like solution that takes liquid form when in a still or slow-moving state and stiffens into a solid when moving at high velocities. It was originally designed to be a modern form of armour technology, since you can incorporate it into a protective garment to defend the wearer from items flying at their body at a high speed. It’s since been used in everything, from Kelvar bulletproof vests to NASA spacesuits that protect astronauts from shrapnel.
Since this technology is so new, Reebok had to do a lot of testing to make sure the bra would actually do what it advertised. The company set up a breast biomechanics testing centre with the help of the University of Delaware with 54 separate motion sensors tracking and measuring various parts of a tester’s chest area. This is a far more rigorous approach than most testing facilities in the industry that typically only use between two to four sensors. Over the course of a year, the facility gathered the data required for the scientists and Reebok product designers to develop the PureMove bra.
The bra itself is minimalistic; unlike many bras in the market that have dozens of pieces of fabric, straps and hooks all stitched together to provide support in different areas, the PureMove bra only has seven pieces of fabric, thanks to the fabric’s adaptive quality. This means there are fewer seams, which mean less friction. There are perforations throughout the bra to allow for ventilation and breathability. And Reebok is launching the bra in a larger than usual range of 10 sizes, from XS to XL+, to provide a more tailored fit to wearers. The PureMove will retail for $60, which puts it on the premium end of Reebok’s line, but is considerably less expensive than those sold by luxury activewear brands, which go for over $100.
The activewear industry overflows the market with hundreds of different sports bras every season. Research shows that most female consumers are unsatisfied with their sports bra options and one in five women avoid exercise altogether because they don’t have a sports bra that fits them properly.