Selling apparel has always been a challenge for run specialty retailers more well versed in their core footwear business — and merchandising and selling a specialty category such as sport bras has proven to be even more intimidating. Yet this apparel niche has proven to be a strong contributor the bottom lines of those retailers who make the effort and partner with key vendors that have targeted the female runner.
The Running Event in Austin in December was an ideal opportunity to take a closer look at four of those brands that focus on this often-neglected category. Each offers its own unique style and identity for run specialty and here we take readers on a virtual tour of the sport bra category at TRE.
ANITA: PROVOCATIVE AND UNAPOLOGETIC
Based in Germany, Anita, a fourth generation company, rocks a cutting-edge brand that attracts attention with its sleek, modern styling that is about as sexy-meets-functional as it comes.
Can a sports bra made of alluring fabric really be offered in sizes ranging from A-KK and still provide support? The answer is yes, with Anita laying claim as a true support system for women of all shapes and sizes. Styling, comfort, breathability, fit and function are the key to its allure.
A leader in maximum support, most of the bras in Anita’s collection feature encapsulated cups for added support along with compression for stability. Its air control DeltaPad sports bra shows how well Anita designs for the woman who is well-endowed and looking for support and comfort. The unique use of ultralight breathable mesh along with cut outs at the bottom and sides of the cups keep the skin super cool and dry during active workouts or runs.
- DynamiX Star. This colorful and playful racer back sports bra offers style with maximum support. The padded straps are ergonomically shaped and designed to prevent neck contact. It also features a seamless cup lined with absorbent moisture management fabric, while the breathable mesh back completes the fun, stylish look. From high-impact aerobics to running a 5K, the DynamiX Star bra is there for full support.
- Extreme Control. High function pique fabric makes this attractive sports bra come to life, with features such as three-section outer cups tailored on the outside and seamless on the inside to prevent chafing. Ergonomically designed wide cushioned adjustable straps add even more comfort to this shining star.
Author’s Insight: If the multitude of sports bras Anita has to offer isn’t enough, for the fashionista in you most bras come with coordinating leggings that include massaging features. Let’s just say Anita sports bras and leggings lend themselves to an instant mood boost.
VUORI: NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S SPORTS BRA
The next stop is the Vuori booth — its colorful and hip vibe set the stage for understanding what this athletic brand is all about. To no surprise it is a Carlsbad, CA-based company whose clothing inspires a sense of well-being, happiness and sunshine.
Its unique selling point is a product so versatile it can be worn anytime anywhere — from workout to after-work socializing, Vuori has carved out a niche in the running and athleisure world.
Super soft and comfortable, a combination of functionality and minimalist design sets this bra line apart. The 2022 collection offers a range of bras focusing on low-to-medium impact sports, each with sustainable fabrics that incorporate sports-inspired materials such as Lycra spandex and other synthetic fibers. Many of the bras include cross wicking.
- Yosemite Bra. A light-support comfort bra with a very stylish back. While the front comes with soft removable inserts and offers extra coverage for small to medium busted woman, the strappy back styling is super cute. This style is great for running, hiking, spin, yoga and low-impact sports.
- Daily Bra. The easy core styling of this lined bra features Vuori’s peachy performance fabric, offering comfort while giving medium support when needed. The removable cups are a bonus, while its four-way stretch, quick-drying and moisture-wicking qualities target low-to-medium impact activities.
- Mindset Bra. The newest in the line offers light support and a fashionable splash of pizazz with a crossed strappy back. The fit is designed for comfort while it stays in place during activities, making it suitable for layering and low-intensity to medium-impact sports.
Author’s Insight: Vuori’s hybrid style of bras are as comfortable as they are chic, a great option for women who do not want or need encapsulation or extra support. What really impresses is how Vuori focuses on lifestyle and sustainability. Its bras are so versatile that women can confidently wear them in just about any setting — from running to yoga, climbing or paddling.
BROOKS IN THE RUN BRA SPOTLIGHT
From rising star to Queen of the run bras, Brooks shines so brightly in the spotlight that it makes it hard to see any flaws in its impeccably thought-out and well-designed collection.
Brooks has placed an emphasis like no other company – footwear or apparel – on its run bra and its reputation has risen with such velocity in a market so few companies knew where to even begin. While gaining a strong reputation with its expertise on seamless support, Brooks continues to impress.
- Drive Convertible. Versatility is the name of the game here as this back closure run bra stands out with its comfortable, supportive design. Made of quick-drying polyester blend fabric, the bonded seams and wide bottom band are some of the little details that make a big difference and ensure comfort on any run. The adjustable straps provide personal support and can be hooked to make way for an optional sporty racerback styling or classic scoop back.
- Drive 3 Pocket Run Bra. This sleek pull-over number really has a hold on things. With three pockets cleverly positioned, runners have plenty of secure places to stash their on-the-run essentials. The center back bonded phone pocket provides easy access while the two side mesh pockets comfortably hold even more gear. The Drive 3 features envelope pockets to keep the removable cups securely in place.
- Dare Crossback 2.0. A pull-over bra designed specifically for running, the focus is on the lightweight and breathable molded cups that provide lift and comfort along with security while tremendously reducing bounce. The lengthened bottom band provides even more support and the strategically placed perforations keep runners cool. This stylish streamlined crossback design comes in fun, vibrant colors that are sure to provide an energizing lift.
Author’s Insight: For a shoe company Brooks certainly makes excellent run bras — and don’t dare call them sports bras around Brooks people. There is no end in sight as to how far the brand will go as its reputation in run bras matches its stature on shoe walls at run specialty.
HANDFUL’S CUP RUNNETH OVER
A truly impressive woman-owned company that recognizes the desire for women to support each other while living life to the fullest, Handful’s spirited ladies run a fabulous show. They know first-hand what women want and how to successfully give it to them.
- Y-Back Bra. With its stylish Y-back and ruched front detail, this little number doubles as a layer under a tank or a standalone while out for a run. Made of eco-friendly recycled polyester, it is known for its secure support during high-impact activity and boasts zero chafing. With minimal bounce, it is sure to stay in place and the removable padded cups appeal to small and large busted women alike.
- The Gametime Bra. The Gametime flatters, not flattens. Runners won’t have to worry about holding the girls in place or being subject to harsh fabric rubbing the wrong way. The Gametime bra offers adjustable shoulder straps that allow for a custom fit, while the wide, buttery soft band prevents chafing. Thanks to the front ruching, Uni-boob can go home with Uni-brow because there is no place for her here.
- The Closer. Easy-on, easy-off is what makes this fun strappy sports bra a favorite. No more peeling off a sweaty bra after a run. Along with this front closure bra’s breathable and supportive stretch mesh panels and soft moisture-wicking Coolmax lining, the adjustable length straps offer personalized support while the pad and stash pockets are an added plus. Bonus: An inside security clip keeps the front closed and makes the Closer bra a girl’s BFF.
Author’s Insight: The spirited ladies at Handful design sports bra to cater to every woman’s lifestyle and their designs run the gamut from playful and relaxed to supportive and secure. And their commitment to women goes beyond right-on product — not only do they donate a percentage of sales to the Young Survival Coalition, which helps young women diagnosed with breast cancer, they also give lifetime discounts to breast cancer survivors as part of their Breast Friend Forever program.