With thanks to Jane Alden Hodgdon, President and CEO of IBB Designs (the makers of Itty Bitty Bra). Jane kindly shared some insights with me about the AA-cup bra market and her role as the designer and developer of the Itty Bitty Bra collection: a fashionable, comfortable bra range aimed at small-busted women who are “Itty Bitty and proud!”.
What triggered your personal decision to launch IBB Designs?
It began as a personal need. After years of searching, I realised there simply wasn’t a bra on the market that fit me — or the millions of other women in my size range. I eventually decided I had to design and develop Itty Bitty Bra to give people like me a brand they can call their very own.
Why are AA-cup women so ignored by most lingerie manufacturers?
It seems to me that most large manufacturers think it’s more cost effective to serve the mid-range sizes, perhaps wrongly assuming that these are the majority. I was recently told that even the larger department stores are moving away from ordering AA, A, and some B-cups. Consequently these lower ranges are considered niche markets and their potential is largely ignored.
The manufacturers who do supply small-cup bras don’t generally invest in developing the right designs for small-busted women. They equate “small-busted” with “petite” and AA-cup and A-cup styles are often poorly scaled down versions of B and C-cup styles with shortened straps.
How did you develop the Itty Bitty Bra?
The development process took over a year – it was a very challenging, exciting and creatively fulfilling journey. I started with the cup design, which required a considerable amount of time to produce accurately. Because I was unable to find a suitable company in Los Angeles, I then had the mould made by a cup manufacturer in Canada. With the help of a patternmaker in New York, I created the very first sample. And that brought me to a manufacturer who helped me develop the line into a finished product. Today, we produce all the pieces in factories in China. I went there myself a year ago to see first-hand that the garments are made precisely and efficiently.
What new styles are coming soon?
New styles will be added this summer: Removable padded bras in three new patterns — houndstooth, gold paisley, and a navy geometric design — and matching boyshorts. We are also launching a workout bra very soon that has removable padding and matching boyshorts. And we’re developing a bra with no underwire, light padding with convertible straps.
What unique qualities does a small-cup bra need to have?
A small-cup bra needs to be comfortable — with no gapping, no puckering, and no slipping. The cup needs to be specifically designed for “true” AA, A, and B-cup bodies. Also, in my opinion, the design should be made from soft and pretty fabrics that can be worn every day.