Have you ever thought about how many bras are sitting in landfill around the world? Most women own several bras, usually made with synthetic materials such as nylon and spandex, and when they’re no longer of use that’s where they often end up… but what if they could break down in your compost heap?! Yes, that’s right, a compostable bra! There is such a thing, thanks to the vision and determination of Stephanie Devine, founder of sustainable fashion brand The Very Good Bra, who is helping to address the massive problem of textile waste with her collection of sustainable underwear and lounge wear.
Explain The Very Good Bra in a sentence – zero waste bras in 27 sizes that are 100% compostable, and will be eaten by worms within 3 months!
What prompted you to start the company? I had an obsession with creating the perfect non-wired bra in a natural fibre, having been unable to find one to see me through breast cancer treatment in 2007. I lost this company through an investor relationship which soured, but that very week in 2016 when I was forced to liquidate the company, I met the man who runs MUD Jeans in Amsterdam, a circular jeans company. This was the first I had heard of the circular economy and the more I learned about the evils of fast fashion, the more I became fixated on the idea of creating the world’s first zero-waste bra.
What have been the biggest challenges so far? Initial challenges were simply sourcing the materials and custom making the things that didn’t exist like compostable hook and eye pieces. At the time of my Kickstarter launch, companies like The Better Packaging had not yet started so even packaging was a big challenge. In the last 18 months the challenges have been more about production. Riots in Hong Kong and COVID-19 globally has resulted in me moving to a new factory and having to constantly have some more in development in other geographic regions, should one country really go down hard for a while.
What do you love most about what you do? I love that I can do something creative, which also makes a difference in the world. Bras are little things, but almost half of us wears one every day and it’s my hope that every Very Good Bra I sell saves its toxic cousin from ending up in landfill for 200 years.
How do you recommend people wash/hang out their Very Good Bras? They should be washed on cold and line dried. The unconventional materials dislike heat and they should never be tumbled. Best to line dry with a Best Peg fixed in the centre of the front band, to minimise stretching!
What’s coming up for The Very Good Bra in 2021? Our new V for Victory style bra lands late this month and then I’m planning to launch a few more colours later in the year and a new Liberty print before mid-year. I’d been planning to work on some nursing bras, bralettes, increased sizes etc, but with COVID I just have to carry on doing what I’m doing until the world settles down a bit!