This post was sponsored by Lara Intimates, all opinions and editorial direction my own.
Happy International Women’s Day! On a day that commemorates the movement for womens rights around the world, it feels fitting to be talking about something that many female-identifying people have to think about, boobs. Many of us have them, many of have to figure out how to deal with them.
It also feels somewhat fitting (pardon the pun) to be talking about bras on International Women’s Day, as we’re getting close to 2019 and the 50th anniversary of the Miss America protest. Contrary to popular belief, no bras were burned that day, but they were one of the items protestors used to bring attention to how a male dominated culture traps women with rigid beauty standards, something which sounds pretty familiar despite the extra 50 years. It wasn’t necessarily about demonising bras, but instead bringing light to the toxic patriarchal culture that dictates how a woman should look, behave, feel and think. It was about taking the power and returning it to the hands of women. After all, many of us need or like our bras, but there’s a difference between choosing to wear one and being told to. It’s about having control over our own bodies, thoughts and rights. Doing things on our terms.
And so when it comes to talking about bras, something many of us are keen to invest in when we find the right one, what better movement to focus on than empowering underwear made by women, for women. Bras that actually fit, that don’t damage the planet or the overwhelmingly female workforce that create them, and bras that champion a diverse range of bodies, not just the ones the patriarchy identifies as acceptable.
So today I’m talking about Lara Intimates, my all time favourite underwear company. I’ve vocalised it multiple times, online and off, but these guys are going to be my bra go-to for the rest of my life. And I don’t say that lightly. The brand was founded in 2016 by London College of Fashion alumni Faith Leeves and Cindy Liberman in their final year of university, with the aim of being a new kind of underwear creator. They cringed at the idea of naming a company after themselves, so instead invented Lara: the girl who’s stylish and sophisticated, creative and cool, without having to sacrifice her sustainable values.
‘We make intimate apparel that fits and flatters, provide opportunities to female makers in London and empower all women that believe in a sustainable fashion future’
There are honestly so many reasons to love Lara Intimates. Here’s a few:
Sustainability & Ethics
Lara Intimates are one of the best brands around when it comes to zero waste credentials. Instead of using new fabrics, they decided to tap into the supply of millions of tonnes of waste textiles that other brands and factories send to landfill each year, therefore extending the life of that which already exists. They work with a UK supplier that buys surplus luxury lingerie fabrics from across the globe; the textiles are always in perfect, unused condition and would otherwise have gone straight into a landfill heap! When the supplier occasionally receives an awkward colour (neon green, for example) they’ll have it dyed black by a British dyehouse, and when Lara need a specific colour, for example hot pink, their supplier dyes everything in one large batch to exact colour specifications, helping maintain a perfect colour match on all garments. When it comes to the smaller parts it gets a little more tricky (did you know bras often have 15 pieces or more?) but Lara still does everything they can. Their hooks, eyes and gold hardware comes from the same luxury surplus as their fabrics, and their elastics, strapping, underbands and bindings are made and dyed by a responsible British manufacturer who keep very little stock to reduce waste.
Lara Intimates is also zero waste in house too. They cut bras and briefs out at the same time, and pack pattern pieces together so there’s little space in between, wasting very minimal amounts of fabric. Anything that’s wasted is saved to be shredded and used as stuffing in a new garment, which is yet to be unveiled when they have enough shredded material to release it. But they waste so little that it looks like it’s going to be a while before that happens.
When it comes to production, Cindy and Faith couldn’t find a responsible lingerie factory in England at a price they liked. So, naturally, they decided to start their own instead. Every Lara Intimates garment is made in-house in their all-female Soho studio, which I’ve visited a few times myself now, giving them total control and transparency every step of the way. You can read more about their factory here.
Supporting Women In Business
Lara Intimates was founded by two women while they were still finishing their studies, and in the less than a year since they’ve graduated, they now employ other wonderful women too! Not only is this truly incredible and indicative of how great their company has been from the beginning, but it also shows that you really can produce quality pieces sustainably, ethically and economically at the same time. When you buy from Lara Intimates not only do you support a small business that’s completely owned and run by women, you also help them share their skills and knowledge with others. Lara seamstresses work on a variety of tasks so they learn and practice many different skills, and as the Lara Intimates Factory grows they plan to train more designers, makers and women in London with technical design and manufacturing knowledge. Through this they aim to provide job opportunities to women around the city, and empower all employees with the potential for challenging, exciting and fulfilling careers.
Why wouldn’t you want to support something as great as that?
Lara Intimates is all about celebrating women of all shapes, sizes and identities. The variety and beauty of the whole spectrum of womanhood, that’s their jam. They don’t photoshop any of their models, and you can see their bras worn by a whole variety of women out there, including me! Seeing as they make specifically to your measurements, there’s no body type they can’t fit.
In the spirit of body positivity, I thought I’d mention that this is also the first time I’ve posted about underwear on this blog before, as I’ve been too nervous! And, as if the world knew this was a big step for me, I got my period the day of this photoshoot. Classic. But I decided to take the plunge and do these photos anyway, bloating and all, because I thought that if I wanted to talk about the message, I should do my best to embody it. There aren’t many clothes, never mind undies, that could make me feel strongly enough to still shoot when I felt like I was dying inside. So I think that says something too.
THEY. ACTUALLY. FIT.
Many of us struggle with bra size and fit, either wearing the total wrong size by accident or having trouble finding anything that’s really comfortable. You know who was doing on an extreme level that for ten years? Me. When I first got measured as a teenager I remember being told that no one would make bras in my size (28E, which I’ve recently discovered) because nobody made bras for such a small waist. I was resigned to wearing a 32C, a full four inches too big, for years. I thought that being in a constantly uncomfortable state was just part and parcel of wearing a bra, but turns out I was wrong there. In fact I didn’t even know that cup sizing is determined on a relative level to your band size, which is why my size is E and yet my boobs aren’t actually that massive. Surely you would think this would be more common knowledge, but it wasn’t for me. I was genuinely shocked when I learned my real size last October.
At Lara Intimates, your fit is based on your actual body measurements. You can go into their studio for a fitting, which I did, or there’s instructions on how to do it at home here, and they will make a bra that’s catered exactly to you. I cannot emphasise enough the difference you’ll feel. I’m finally comfortable! When I come home at the end of the day I’m not overcome with an overwhelming desire to get my bra off as soon as possible! I know it sounds like that can’t be real, but I promise it’s true. I’m finally learning that I can actually enjoy wearing a bra, instead of unenthusiastically throwing something on out of necessity. For the first time, my boobs are quite literally freed.
In the photos in this post I’m wearing three different bras (the crop top, the coral bra and the wren bra), which I’ve bought myself over the last six months. Before that I hadn’t bought a new bra in a solid two years; they were all so uncomfortable that I didn’t see the point in shelling out more cash to buy another thing that hurt me. Now, I’m undertaking the happy process of phasing out my old torturous bras and replacing them one by one with Lara pieces. Lara Intimates is the gift that keeps on giving, and for the first time in my life I find myself excited at the prospect of buying new bras from them in the future (seriously, who is this bra loving person because she is new to me). I’m pretty sure I’m going to be wearing Lara Intimates for the rest of my life, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I feel like I’ve taken back control of my own body, and I’m wearing what I want because I want to, not because anyone else is trying to tell me what to do.
So this International Women’s day I’m saying yes to inclusivity, yes to body positivity, yes to female run business, and yes to feeling free in my own skin. Who’s with me?
Photography by Gianna Scavo