Even if you’ve never bought a bra, you know how they’re sized: the A–D cup system has been around since the 1930s when undergarment manufacturer S. H. Camp and Co. linked the size of women’s breasts to the first four letters of the alphabet. So it’s a bold move to ask women to embrace a new system that introduces 55 unfamiliar sizes with names like the 4/30, the 7/36 and the 10/42. But Jockey, the venerable U.S. underwear manufacturer, says women needed a new system, citing widespread complaints that A to D sizes aren’t consistent across brands and that they factor in size, but not the shape, of breasts. As a result, an estimated 80% of women wear ill-fitting bras.
Jockey’s new “volumetric” system aims to provide a massive-market “almost custom” fit in 10 cup shapes. (A 4/30 bra, for example, refers to a 4-cup; the 30 is the under-bust measurement that determines strap lengths.) Introduced in Canada in January, the $60 Jockeys sell for about twice as much as the average conventional bra. Given that the global lingerie market is estimated at almost US$30 billion, even a small chunk of that could be big business for Jockey.