Where do bras come from?

I became curious as to where my money goes if I buy a bra new. A share goes to the retailer, but some also goes to the brand. Most bras I own say ‘Made in China’ on them, so I assume some also goes to the the Chinese factories to the (presumably) Chinese laborers. My impression is that most clothing companies do their manufacturing in Asia (American Apparel is the only American zaibatsu, or vertically integrated company I can think of).  To make things more confusing, many brands have names that are not suggestive of their origin. I thought I’d do some research to find out where bra companies are headquartered.

Here’s what my investigation turned up so far-

  • Wacoal may sound like an English (British or American) word, but it’s interestingly enough a Japanese company! I assumed that they were American due to their market penetration (the brand is the only D-FF brand I see in most US department stores, but do they carry the plus sizes? ).
  • Freya, Fantasie, Fauve, Elomi, Goddess, and Huit form the Eveden group, which I thought were British companies (except for Huit, who were recently acquired from France). Wacoal acquired them last year. My Freya Decos say ‘Made in Sri Lanka,’ so some money is going to Sri Lanka, some to England, and I assume some to Japan.
  • Ewa Michalak is based in Lodz, Poland. They are a small business and ship from Poland. Where is the sewing done? The tags say ‘Product of Poland’. Ewa Michalak is the designer herself, so yes, the money I pay goes to Ewa and her employees who probably live in Poland.
  • All of the Panache/Masquerade bras I own say Made in China, but the company is headquartered in England. Panache is a loanword from the French, as is Masquerade. I guess it evokes French haute couture?
  • Curvy Kate are English, English, English! I’m reminded of Kate Winslet’s quote, were they founded for this?
  • Triumph International are a German company, but their East Asian branch is the one I’m familiar with. When I went to go visit my mother’s family in Taiwan almost all of the bras were Triumph ones. I didn’t see a single non-padded one while I was there. I believe the average bustline in East Asia is smaller. This could be influencing Triumph’s investment in making pretty padded bras that don’t come in plus sizes.
  • When I was growing up, I always assumed Victoria’s Secret was an English brand because of Queen Victoria! Nope, they’re American and headquartered in Ohio. The manufacturing is done overseas.
  • I will mention Fredericks of Hollywood because they have the most transparent name! They were founded by Frederick, and were headquartered in Hollywood! In 2006 they moved to New York City. Their clothing is usually imported. I love their corset designs, shame none of them fit me.

Please let me know if I made any mistakes! I’m curious as to the names behind the brand names, too- what is an ‘elomi’?

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3 thoughts on “Where do bras come from?

  1. Ah yes; I have the pleasure of living in Central Ohio. Victoria’s Secret is part of the Limited Brands (owned by Les Wexner); there are two distribution centers within 5 miles of my home. All you hear on the radio during this time of year is “Part-time seasonal jobs available now at the Limited Brands distribution center…” because VS does a huge amount of sales in general and then you add holiday shopping on top of it. I’ve heard it’s a great company to work for.

    • A shame that they have an employee discount and such a narrow size range…probably prompts the female workers to buy ill-fitting bras.

      I’m glad to hear that it’s a good place to work, though!

  2. Shame about American Apparel, I wanted to support stuff made in America and then I heard about how they abuse their employees.

    My Curvy Kate bras say Made in China

    And I have a Marie Jo bra that says Made in China / Styled in Europe whatever that’s suppose to mean.

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