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Made for Quarantine: Startup Helps Small-Busted Women Go Bra-Free in Style

Quarantine dressing is hands down the biggest fashion trend of 2020, and one Philadelphia upstart is aiming to add a degree of polish and ease to the process.

Women’s apparel brand Free Reign is launching with an ultra-comfortable tank top built for bra-free wear. Designed for small-busted women, the Everyday Tank does away with underwires and push-up padding, instead integrating soft, molded cups directly into the shirt’s design.

Founders Gigi Kitei and Liz Cook said the idea for a line of cozy wardrobe essentials for size A and B-cup women was born of their own frustrations with what was available on the market.

“The struggle to find a good bra has been part of our conversations since we were teens,” Kitei told Sourcing Journal. “But even today, the options out there for women with smaller cup sizes are limited.”

Women in this size range face the conundrum of not needing the same level of support as those with larger cup sizes, but still wanting some subtle coverage and shape, she said.

“We know she wants a bra that provides a natural look, feels authentic and boosts her confidence,” Kitei added. “We wanted something that felt like a second skin, so that’s what we created.” The co-founders re-imagined the bra top concept, applying technology to the inner support system that pulls influence from the modern intimates and activewear space.

Free Reign aims to make the Everyday Tank available for sale later this summer. The brand is currently running a Kickstarter to fund its first round of orders, and the campaign surpassed its $10,000 goal in just six hours, the founders said. The company expects to begin shipping the tops in August.

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The Everyday Tank incorporates contoured cups directly into its design.

While the design of the garment is integral to its efficacy and appeal, Cook said choosing the right fabric was a top priority for the founders.

“So much of a garment’s environmental footprint is driven by the choice of material, so we’ve given a great deal of thought to this,” she said.

The Everyday Tank is made with Tencel’s Lyocell—a renewable, cellulosic fiber derived from wood pulp, along with modal fibers and a small amount of spandex for softness and stretch. Cook said she hopes to be able to source bio-based or recycled options in the future.

“We looked at organic cotton early on, but we are producing a seamless garment and we heard from several manufacturers that knitting with cotton on a circular knitting machine is difficult because the fibers break easily,” she said. By contrast, Lyocell fibers are durable and resistant to pilling, ensuring a long life for the garment.

“The synthetic yarns based on fossil fuels, along with our foam cups, are the Achilles heel in our product sustainability profile,” she said, adding, “We’ll be looking for suppliers who can help us replace them with better alternatives.”

What will likely draw shoppers to Free Reign, though, is the product’s versatility and ease of wear. In a world where many women are having trouble finding the motivation to get dressed in the morning, an all-in-one garment offers an attractive solution.

“Before the pandemic, for so many women the first thing they did when they got home from a long day was take off their bra,” Cook said. “Now, with many of them working from home, they’re discovering that they may not have to put one on at all or can explore alternatives that feel better—which has been liberating.”

A newfound appreciation for comfort may be one of the silver linings of this crisis, she said, and Cook believes the shift could be permanent. “Women are going to rethink what garments they put up with, from heels to power suits, and how they put together their wardrobe with pieces that are more practical to everyday living.”

Kitei said she believes women’s wardrobes are ripe for reinvention, and 2020 might be the moment it all happens. “The pandemic has made a lot of people realize that they continually go for the same items of clothing that don’t require a lot of thought—the ones that make you feel like yourself, put together but not uncomfortable,” she said.

Functional, practical clothing is having a moment, she added. “I think it’s something that will last for years to come.”