The Sports Bra: They Liked to Run But Couldn’t Find The Right Bra. So They Invented One

In the ’70s, the United States was struck by a new trend: running. In New Jersey, three good friends (Hinda Miller, Lisa Lindahl, and Polly Smith) got struck by the bug and couldn’t stop running. There was only one problem: running with a regular bra is painful.

In 1977, as the three friends complained yet again about the chest pain they suffered, one of them proposed: what will happen if we connected two jockstraps? They laughed at the joke, but then they asked their selves: why not?

Miller, a costume designer by trade, sewed two jockstraps together as a prototype, and they realized the great potential of this new invention. Miller has said that in the field of costume design, creativity was the name of the game, so there wasn’t anything that they didn’t think they could do. 

They quickly discovered that the jockstrap fabric wasn’t as comfortable and needed a fabric that would be stronger yet more flexible and airy. Smith went to New York to look for a more suitable fabric. 

With the right fabric in hand, Linda created another prototype, started a company, and divided the shares between the three of them. Miller’s father loaned them $5000, and they were off. To cut costs, they were their first models. They called the bra the Jockbra.

An early ad for the jocksbra
One of the first ads for the Jocksbra. With little budget, they served as their own models.

Although the first sports shops they turned to didn’t know how to react to them and explained that they were sports shops and didn’t sell bras – they were quickly out of stock. An equally amazing fact is that their company was profitable from the first year. 

Big sports companies such as Nike and Reebok quickly paid attention and started to produce similar products, but that didn’t make their product any less profitable. 12 years after they founded the company, they sold it to Playtex, which today is part of the Champion sports corporation. 

In the beginning of March 2020, as the world was busy with COVID-19, they were selected for the Inventors Hall of Fame, along with 11 other people. Not bad for women who just wanted to run with less back pain.

sportsbra inventors
The friends today, as they were inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame