A bikini by Australian brand The Fold.
A bikini by Australian brand The Fold.

Companies profiting from big boobs

SHOPPING for bikinis and bras is rarely a fun experience, but for women with bigger breasts the struggle involved in purchasing these necessary items can be particularly frustrating.

The founders of Australian swimwear label The Fold, Carly Warson and Stephanie Korn, both 27 and from Melbourne, bonded over this shared frustration.

"We were by the water comparing our swimwear and laughing about how ill-fitting and unsupportive our contraptions were," the pair told news.com.au.

"We bonded over the exhausting and often dispiriting experience of searching for swimwear that catered for our D-plus cup sizes. Feeling frustrated and exposed, we dreamed of finding a brand that made us feel supported and comfortable," they said.

"We couldn't understand why brands were still discounting women's curves by offering a limited size range."

Ms Warson, a 10E, and Ms Korn, a 10DD, took matters into their own hands and launched their edited range of bikinis and one pieces in November last year. The pieces come in D-G cups and feature thick adjustable straps, underwire, a fuller cup and a thicker, supportive back strap.

Their first collection quickly sold out and the second, which launches next month, already has a 1000-plus waiting list.

A bikini by Australian brand The Fold.
A bikini by Australian brand The Fold.

Emma-Jane Hughes and Ashleigh Hill are the founders of another Aussie swimwear label, Lilly and Lime, whose sizes range from a D to a GG cup.

Ms Hughes, 36, a 32D and Ms Hill, 35, a 30FF, both from Brisbane, launched Lilly and Lime in 2016 and have experienced more than 100 per cent growth over two years.

They too were frustrated by the poor size ranges offered by mainstream swimwear brands, so decided to create their own.

"Being big busted girls, we could never find anything that was both fashionable and a great fit in our sizes. Our smaller busted friends seemed to have a much broader selection of swimwear, all in gorgeous prints and styles," the pair told news.com.au.

"As we lay there with ill-fitting bikinis while our friends ran around with stylish and beautiful swimwear we thought, 'Why not fill the niche?'

Both pairs of swimwear designers say creating bikinis in larger cup sizes is difficult because of the level of detail required to create a supportive bikini top.

"It is really technical developing a structure that can hold up the weight of a bigger bust and still be comfortable. We now realise why until now there haven't been many brands that venture in this direction," Ms Hughes and Ms Hill said.

A model wearing a Lilly & Lime bikini.
A model wearing a Lilly & Lime bikini.

The women behind The Fold agreed.

"Larger cup size garments require more support and shape in order to handle more weight, which means stronger materials, increased reinforcement and expert pattern makers. One millimetre can make all the difference between a perfect and ill-fitting garment," they said.

"The time, expertise and expense involved in sourcing up to 10 components, creating new

designs and patterns makes swimwear for larger cup sizes a highly challenging field. This is why swimwear brands have been slow to successfully expand into this area."

While there is no official data on the cup sizes of Australian women, the average Australian woman is a size 14-16. A 2006 report from underwear brand Berlei found the average bra size for was somewhere between a 14C and 12D.

Ashleigh Hill and Emma-Jane Hughes from Lilly and Lime.
Ashleigh Hill and Emma-Jane Hughes from Lilly and Lime.

Bras N Things senior buyer Jessica Lauppe-Guy says the retailer's most popular bra size is 12 DD.

"We have found over the past few years our full cup category of bras has been increasing in popularity each season," Ms Lauppe-Guy told news.com.au.

"Just three years ago, our full cup offering was a much smaller range. But as more women found they needed a larger size in the full cup, they became quite vocal about what they wanted to see in the collections," Ms Lauppe-Guy said.

"So we have absolutely increased our size range and widened our offering to include new shapes for larger bust sizes, giving our customers more variety and choice."

A big issue for women with larger breasts is finding styles that are modern, pretty and sexy. Many customers report being left to rummage through one rack of dowdy beige designs.

Ashleigh Hill and Emma-Jane Hughes from Lilly and Lime.
Ashleigh Hill and Emma-Jane Hughes from Lilly and Lime.

Both Lilly and Lime and The Fold say they focus on creating beautiful, sexy designs that buck this trend.

"It was apparent bigger bus

ted women were crying out for an option specifically designed for their larger busts. But not just any swimsuit: ones that were stylish, well-made and supportive," said Ms Hughes and Ms Hill of Lilly and Lime.

"We believe that our success has also come from having a product that is right. We often receive messages from our customers who have never felt comfortable wearing

bikinis until they found us."

Ms Warson and Ms Korn from The Fold say it makes smart business sense to give these customers what they want.

"Up to 40 percept of Australian women are wearing a DD cup or larger, yet they are

limited to an uninspiring selection of ill fitting, unsupportive and daggy swimwear," they said.

"Women's bodies are rapidly changing and apparel industries are finally beginning to hear the demand from D+ cup size women, like us."



Models wearing bikinis from Australian born swimwear brand Lilly & Lime.
Models wearing bikinis from Australian born swimwear brand Lilly & Lime.