Nicole Redone has a pretty cool job. As the Design Director of Bras and Innovation at Nike she’s responsible for creating supportive wonder unders that better help athletes achieve their goals as well as creating advancements in bra technology. How did she nab such a unique position? Read on to find out and visit Nike’s BraHaus pop-up in the Toronto Eaton Centre from August 15th to 19th to find your perfect fit and learn more about Nike’s innovations in bra technology.
FASHION: How did you get into this field of work?
Nicole Redone: I call myself a bra geek. I grew up as a dancer and I could never find the right bra for me. So when I finally found one that I could move the straps in a little bit – it made me feel amazing. I went to school and all of my friends were like, “You look different – what did you do?” I ended up helping a lot of my friends find the right bra. I wanted to study psychology for a while and then realized that you could really make people happy and improve their sense of self-confidence by getting them in the right bra. I ended up going to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and getting a degree in fashion design with a specialization in intimate apparel, which was amazing.
How long have you been making people’s bra dreams come true?
It’s been fourteen years now!
What was the first bra that you ever designed?
The first company I worked for out of college was a licensing company that did Badgley Mischka, so I got very excited to do high-end lingerie. While being there, the same company did Walmart bras, so they asked me to do something for them. When our first sales came out of Walmart and I realized I could make amazing things for prices everyone could afford, it made me realize I want to design for big brands and get things out to women everywhere.
How is designing a sports bra different from designing a regular bra?
Some of the challenges are the same. You always want a great fit and you always want comfort. But with a sports bra, you’re really trying to eliminate bounce, which isn’t an issue as much in day-to-day lifestyle bras. You also want to be sure you’re mitigating discomfort, chafing, movement and you’re really allowing for full support throughout every range of athlete needs. I also think bras are amazing not only because not only are they fashion, which is amazing and huge passion of mine, but they’re also functional which allows you to blend fashion and geeky science and innovation into one thing – which is totally what I’m meant for.
What are some of the innovations that you’ve managed to come up with?
We just launched the Infinity bra, which is our classic bra but it’s adjustable. It’s awesome because it has adjustability at the bottom band as well as the strap, so you can adjust it while you’re wearing it. Women change a lot in their bodies; you can gain weight or lose weight. During your time of the month you tend to be a little bigger. The adjustability allows the bra to flex and move with you as your body is changing. It also just looks really cool, with cut-outs and mesh placements where you have major sweat zones.
Which comes first, the functional innovation or the visual design of the bra?
Functionality is really most important thing. I think a lot about the problems I hear women talk about. For example, getting your bra on and off, needing something really supportive for running but not wanting to have to carry an extra bra; Some athletes carry two or three bras because they’ll do a yoga workout and then they’ll run and get so sweaty, they’ll change their bra multiple times. So trying to solve those things really gives you new ideas. Then when you find the solutions, you look at them and try and see how you can design them into something really cool that she’s really going to want to put on.
Is there something you think that women don’t know about wearing a bra that they should know?
A lot of people feel that they don’t really need support or it’s not that important, but women have ligaments in our chest called Cooper’s ligaments and when they stretch out, they can’t grow back. It’s not like a muscle you can rebuild. When you lose that elasticity, it’s not going to come back. Because that can lead to discomfort, back pain. I really see breast care as a part of wellness. So many women don’t get into the right size bra or don’t find something they like and their bra can be a source of awkwardness and discomfort. Hearing that so many women just can’t get comfortable enough in a sports bra to want to work out — that is why I do the work I do. I really think women should know that there is a bra out there for them and looking to find it is really important.