Jan. 09, 2017
How often do you pick up a product and think, “I wonder where and how this is actually made?” We ask ourselves that a lot here at ThirdLove, and we strive to provide bras with you — and all of the women who design and produce them — in mind.
If you follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed that we posted a full factory tour on our Story a few months ago. We flew to China to meet with our suppliers and we brought you along for the ride, spotlighting how our factory operates and how each and every little detail of our bras — from the underwire that goes in our cups to the gold hardware detailing — is designed.
We received such amazing feedback from our Story (thank you to all who commented and emailed) and we figured it was time to share the ThirdLove production process with the rest of you. Here is how every ThirdLove bra is manufactured, from the cups to our pleated straps:
First, let’s talk underwire.
While not every ThirdLove bra has underwire in it (we just launched our 24/7 Classic Wireless Bra) the ones that do, like our T-shirt, Perfect Coverage and Push-up styles, are made from fine gauge stainless steel. The stainless steel is hand-dipped in nylon and coated by hand, and then cut into small pieces to form the shape that eventually lives in your bra cups.
Using women’s measurements — and what that means for you.
One of the most complicated — and interesting — parts of making a ThirdLove bra lies in our proprietary memory foam cups. We developed them in-house and based our sizes off of thousands of women’s real measurements, not fit models. In the lingerie industry, it’s standard to use a “fit model”, who is usually fairly petite and symmetrical, and then companies will size up and down to create a range of sizes.
Instead of this old school industry standard, we knew we wanted to focus on perfecting the fit for every woman who wears our bras, not just the one woman who falls in the perfect middle of the size spectrum. So whether you wear our AA cup or a G, we have wear-tested our bras on hundreds of women. To this day, we still have our employees, friends and family try on our bras in their size to see what we can do better.
The difference is in the cups.
In 2015, we found a partner in China who was up for the task of perfecting tricky little details that really make the difference in how our bras fit and feel (read more about our journey to production in this Inc. Magazine article). We make our own bra molds (no industry sizing standards here), and we press our memory foam cups into each of the custom molds. Then, the cups are trimmed — by hand — and cut down for each size and ½ size. The cups are then cut apart and combined with our extra-soft micro jersey fabric and underwires to assemble the first version of your bra.
Padded clasps and little gold details make for one great bra!
We chose to go tagless, and instead print our tag details on the inside of the back of your bra, alongside a foam-padded hook and eye (the clasp). One of my own biggest issues personally was that standard bra tags were scratchy on my back, so we did away with them!
Our signature pleated strap was chosen as much for its beauty as it was its function. It’s the perfect combination of sturdy and delicate and provides just the right amount of strap tension.
Then, we hand-sew the straps on, finish the edges and clip on the ThirdLove logo that falls in between the bust on many of our bras. Once all of these details have been added, each bra is then inspected once again to check for any leftover strings or imperfections.
We believe in women supporting women.
Here at our San Francisco headquarters, we are fairly female-led and staffed. The same goes for our factory – 92% of the people we employ are women, all of whom entirely support their families on the wages they earn from ThirdLove. The average age of these women who put your bras together is 36. In addition to our product differentiators, we knew we wanted to work with factories who also believed in our vision of doing things differently and breaking the mold.