MakingaThirdWave

  • Photography by Yoshio Kato (this image and products)
  • Editing & Text by UNIQLO

Our needs change with the generations.

Feeling good and looking beautiful—long seen as contradictory, both are possible with our new wireless bra that frees you from all constriction, for the next generation of style and comfort.

Simple at first glance, the revolutionary cup design deserves a closer look.

On Tanabata, netlike ornaments decorate fronds of bamboo. By cutting alternating slits in folded paper, it can be expanded into a full, three-dimensional shape.

Our needs change with the generations.

Feeling good and looking beautiful—long seen as contradictory, both are possible with our new wireless bra that frees you from all constriction, for the next generation of style and comfort.

Simple at first glance, the revolutionary cup design deserves a closer look.

On Tanabata, netlike ornaments decorate fronds of bamboo. By cutting alternating slits in folded paper, it can be expanded into a full, three-dimensional shape.

An Epiphany of Beauty

To create the bra cup mold, the curves of the bust are modeled using a 3D scanner.

Important discoveries are often found in the unlikeliest of places. The telecommunications technology crucial to the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth we use every day was invented by a Hollywood actress, based on the seemingly unrelated workings of the player piano, while the coffee filters we have favored for over a hundred years were first conceived by a German housewife, who was inspired by the blotting paper in her child’s workbook. As it turns out, one of UNIQLO’s bras has its own unlikely history.

Eliminating the underwire, a constrictive feature long said to be the only way to shape and support the bust, our new wireless design reinvents the bra, from the lines of the pattern to the overall shape of the cups. But a focus on comfort is impractical if the end result lacks adequate support and a flattering shape. This is where the internal cup plays a decisive role. Our task was to create a bra that would adapt to daily changes in the body and each person’s unique bust size, for a fit that never feels constrictive but still maintains a satisfactory silhouette. The development team’s unlikely source of inspiration were the netlike paper decorations known as amikazari, seen throughout Japan each summer on Tanabata. A square piece of paper is diagonally folded several times, then snipped on both sides in an alternating sequence of shallow cuts. When the folds are carefully separated and the tip is pinched out, the paper takes on a full, round shape, as pictured. Styled after a fishing net, amikazari represent a wish to “scoop up happiness.” Like a filling net, the surface of the bra touching the skin fits snugly while expanding as needed, providing just the right support for your bust, however it may feel that day. A self-adjusting cup. That was the answer.

Our first wireless bras were viewed as leisure wear when they appeared ten years ago, but following the 2016 release of the 3D Hold (initially called “Beauty Light”), whose seamless molded construction offers three-dimensional support, wireless bras have become increasingly acceptable for everyday outfits, a game changer for the fashion world. Refusing to choose between comfort and beauty, these “third wave bras” offer the best of both worlds—and their design gained even more sophistication with the introduction of the netlike cup construction in 2019.

But it takes more than a discovery to bring a product to fruition. We needed a fusion of the artisan’s attention to detail and the latest technology. Manufacturing the injection molded cups that form the core of the bra demanded the technological cooperation of the world’s top underwear manufacturer. The factory echoes with the rhythmic sounds of pressurized air being released, as the components of seamless 3D Hold bras are joined together using proprietary bonding methods. Elsewhere, a brick of aluminum is tooled for around twenty hours, to fashion a mold for forming the curved cups, while the temperature and motion of the building are strictly regulated to avoid aberrations in the complex and elaborate process. The setup, in which a mechanical arm repeatedly injects polyurethane resin into molds to form the three-dimensional cups, was adapted from molding techniques used in the automotive industry, in order to achieve a lighter, stronger product.

To create the bra cup mold, the curves of the bust are modeled using a 3D scanner.

The new 3D Hold is the result of refining our self-adjusting cup using fitting data gathered over the course of a year from people in eleven countries of all body types; and while the simple profile doesn’t look so different from the outside, the inner workings have been fully redesigned. The shape expands along the contours of the bust, as when the paper ornaments are pinched into a 3D shape, allowing the cup to self-expand by as much as three cup sizes. The resin closer to the bottom of the cup is extra supportive, while the upper portion of the cup is cut into a wavy pattern, making the fabric less constrictive and providing a smooth touch against the skin.

Simple and functional. A bra free of ornamentation or unnatural designs, able to conform to any life situation by comfortably adjusting to your unique body type—even after ten years of steady technological innovation, this remains something of a tall order, but our wireless bra is always getting closer. As an item of LifeWear, it has been thoughtfully designed to support the very basis of your lifestyle. By listening to what you have to say, we’ll continue to test out new materials and tweak the pattern at the millimeter level, working toward another modest innovation in the season to come.

After passing a rigorous inspection, a brick of aluminum is precision-tooled, following the spatial data taken with the 3D scanner.

The mechanical arm sequentially injects polyurethane resin into rows of molds. Held at a constant temperature, the resin foams as it takes the shape of the cup.

Wireless Bra 3D Hold

Supported firmly from below, the self-adjusting cup fits comfortably to every body type. The seamless molded construction is designed not to show through a top.

  • Wireless Bra (3D Hold)

Interior of the factory where the wireless bras are made. The tooling process for the molds is conducted quietly by machines.

Diagrams for the cups, created on a CAD/CAM system. Based on calculations of how the shape will change with movement or volume, the number and placement of the radial incisions and the density of material are modified for each cup size.

Injection molded cups, newly adopted in 2019. After testing out over twenty incision patterns using paper models, it was discovered that if concentric incisions are staggered top to bottom, as with amikazari, the form will have a fuller shape.

The Best of Both Worlds

“I like a bra that has a natural fit, but I also want support and lift.” To fulfill this request, we’ve expanded our wireless bra lineup for 2021.

In addition to the 3D Hold, ready for any situation throughout the day, we offer various bras suited for different uses and tastes, from relaxed types with a gentler fit for wearing around the house to active types that give you comfortable support for exercise, but the new “Shape Lift” takes the third wave launched by the 3D Hold one step further.

Without losing the soft touch and wireless freedom, this bra departs from a construction that continuously supports the bust along its contours, instead lifting from below using crisscrossed flexible bands that span the width of the cups while pulling up like a suspension bridge. The result is a shaping power that holds its own against underwire bras. The Shape Lift utilizes a lace design that received rave reviews in other bras for solving the annoying problem of the bust being pushed out to the sides. The goal was not for built-in sexiness or to try to make everyone look like a model, but for a shaping bra that helps whoever wears it feel closer to their personal vision of beauty.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the first “brassieres” appeared in the form of lightweight supportive garments designed to impart shape without restricting the organs, as a pushback to corsets that used steel or whalebone to sculpt the body and create a curvy profile. At a time when restricting your waist and making your bust appear fuller was considered beautiful, this alternative to the unhealthy confines of the corset liberated women. Over the years, the bust shapes of the 1950s, modeled after movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, gave way to the form-fitting styles seen on models of the 1990s, where the cleavage was accentuated. But today, such monolithic “standards of beauty” have been overturned, in favor of body diversity. There is also a growing movement to stop sacrificing health for beauty, focusing instead on healthy living. As the closest piece of clothing to the skin, a bra needs to be comfortable. Whether it’s sexy or natural, you should be able to express yourself the way you want to. Shape Lift satisfies the needs of a new generation of consumers.

Internal structure of the Shape Lift. A unique material, somewhere between plastic and rubber, gives the cup its three-dimensional shape.

A body scanning machine is used to determine how the Shape Lift adjusts the profile of the bust and conforms to the body. This allows for a rounded silhouette, where the bust is not pushed to the sides but rather pulled up at the top, concentrating volume in the center.

Wireless Bra Shape Lift

Available in more refined sizing than the 3D Hold, in every other cup size. A total of five colors, from chic black and navy to light green, pink and off-white.

  • Wireless Bra Shape Lift
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