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The History of the Sports Bra

The sports bra was invented in 1977, at the height of the women’s liberation movement and the first jogging craze. It was created by a woman named Lisa Lindahl, her friend Smith who had costume-making experience, and was bankrolled by funds that assistant Hinda Schreiber Miller secured from her parents. The trio used a new poly/cotton/Lycra blend of fabric and cross-back straps to create a bra that women could actually run in comfortably. Lindahl mentioned that she wanted one for herself and realized that other women probably did, too. She was right. The women called their creation the Jogbra and began selling it at sporting goods stores, where it quickly became a success. (Notably, Jogbra later became Champion after Playtex bought the brand in 1990.) Other women then began to innovate and improve upon the original sports bra. For example, in the 1980s, dedicated athlete Renelle Braaten and her mother created a sports bra made especially for larger-chested women. Braaten patented the result and her Enell bra later became quite famous — it was endorsed by Oprah in 2004. In 2011, Cynthia Smith founded Lynx and qualified for 3 patents on her sports bra design. It’s clear that the ingenuity of many women helped create the sports bras that we now see in stores today. But sports bras have now become a massive industry, and larger companies like Brooks and Lululemon have also gotten in on the game. Although these larger companies are often not headed by women, thankfully, there is now a wide body of scientific research that companies can use in the development and design of modern sports bras. The research and development process is ongoing and each season, new and improved sports bras are released.

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