The Science of Bras: Bra Research on offer to the industry

The Science of Bras: Bra Research

by Michelle Broomes, Lingerie Journal Editor.

After years of investigating the anatomy and biomechanics of women’s breasts and the science behind bras, the University of Portsmouth Research Group in Breast Health is now in prime position to offer practical advice and concrete knowledge to the intimate apparel industry. This is expected to make a remarkable difference in the way in which bras are designed and manufactured, and could be especially significant as it relates to activewear styles and their ability to reduce breast bounce.

As a result of just over a decade of enquiry into breast physiology and mechanics, the Research Group in Breast Health is now offering a two-fold opportunity to the bra industry to collaborate in understanding and producing ideal products for consumers via educational workshops and also product testing, evaluation and development packages.

The objective of the group contributing scientific intelligence to the industry is to offer trialled and tested products to the market, making women more confident that they are buying garments that are backed by genuine research and that are, therefore, primarily fit for purpose alongside other important factors such as fit, comfort, style and feel of the materials employed.

“Scientific testing should be a fundamental aspect of the product development process,” explains Professor Joanna Scurr from the UK’s University of Portsmouth, who leads the research group. “We must understand the requirements of a product before we can successfully develop a product to meet those [expected] demands. Our research originates from our scientific understanding of the requirements of a bra.”

Using rigorous scientific methodologies, this world leading group in breast movement, has studied the impact of momentum on breasts, particularly when exercising and discovered that many women experience breast discomfort during physical exertion, a phenomenon estimated to affect half of the female population in the UK. Notably, the group’s research revealed that 1 in 5 women reported avoiding sporting activity citing their breasts as the cause – a situation that could lead to adverse consequences on their health.

Ably guided by Professor Scurr, the research group went back to the root of the problem, breast anatomy – revealing the minimalist anatomical support that breasts actually have but the great range of motion that they can undergo during physical activity. Breasts can move forwards and backwards, up and down and side to side, according to the research, causing women to experience immediate consequences such as breast pain and embarrassment and long term conditions such as ptosis (sagging). Any information to reduce these adverse consequences, should, hopefully, be well received by the industry and the target market.

Industry professionals can benefit from two specific post investigation measures which the Research Group in Breast Health offers: “The Science Behind Breasts and Bras” bi-annual one-day educational workshops where attendees can get a better understanding of breast anatomy, the challenges with breasts and breast movement and theory of bras. These workshops are expected to bring to the fore the latest research into breasts biomechanics, breast support and bra fit relating to both everyday and activewear styles.

And on a more practical note, the group is also giving lingerie brands and suppliers the opportunity of a collaborative relationship in which it offers three levels of involvement that range from idea to realization. They are Bronze (Bra Testing Package); Silver (Bra Evaluation Package) and Gold (Bra Development Package). These packages have been designed to allow brands to validate their products through sound scientific backing – for example, when it’s time for new product launches and rebranding- thereby increasing product confidence through all levels of the industry and especially trickling down to the end consumer.

For more information on the University of Portsmouth Research in Breast Health contact:
For workshops visit:

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