BRANDS TO BUYCOTT | #37 B.X.M
Words by Christina Dean
Finding a sports bra that fits but doesn’t make you feel like you’re being squeezed by boa constrictor whilst trying to do burpees is a struggle that many bigger busted women will know well. And that’s before you even factor in sustainability to the equation. Enter B.X.M, the only consciously made sports bra brand exclusively for larger cup sizes in the UK.
Founded by Lizzie Gordon after she felt left behind by other sportswear brands who didn’t cater for her size or support level, B.X.M makes supportive, fully adjustable sports bras using recycled fabrics that solve all the problems she had with the sports bras she already owned.
After going on a lingerie design course run by the London College of Fashion, where she picked up information on fabric mills and fastening suppliers, she jumped into B.X.M, launching the brand officially earlier this year.
B.X.M bras are made using ECONYL (fabric made from various bits of plastic waste that’s produced by a mill in Italy) and fastenings that are sourced from Europe. Lizzie was keen not to compromise on the performance aspect of the bras or the sustainability of the fabric, so there’s only one part of the bras that aren’t recycled or recyclable (there is a plastic element in the seams).
She’s looking for an alternative that can do the job just as well but there isn’t anything that exists at the moment, which is “one of the reasons why I would always say we’re consciously made or ethically made rather than sustainable, because there are things about us that are less sustainable and I think it’s important to be transparent about those and that we’re always trying to improve.”
There are two bras in the range, which are both wire-free, made from black 100% ECONYL bonded fabric (that’s two layers fused together so it’s thick and low stretch), have snap fastenings rather than hook-and-eye so there’s no digging in at the back, have hook-and-loops on the straps so they won’t loosen over time, and have thick underbands that grip the ribcage so they don’t need to be as tight. As Lizzie says, “it’s giving you support without necessarily compromising on comfort. Also when you wear it, the elastic isn’t to its full stretch which means the longevity of the sports bra will actually be longer.”
The Limitless High Impact bra (in sizes 32E to 38H), which is ideal for running or HIIT workouts, provides fuller coverage with a higher neckline, and has a liner fabric, a double strap snap closure at the back and double bust elasticated seams to make it structured and supportive. The seaming, developed with her pattern cutter, is a crucial part of making the bras work, as Lizzie explains, “with the elasticated seams, we’ve basically taken the technology used in corsetry where they put boning in the seams and instead we’ve made them slightly more rigid with elastic, so they’re providing support without it being super restrictive.”
The Fearless Medium Impact bra, which is better for spinning or strength training, has a scoop neckline, a racer back with one snap closure, and a single bust seam to make it that bit less structured. And it’s a bestseller for B.X.M as “for a lot of women that have bought it, it’s really having that bra they can wear day to day that’s not wired, or they can wear it for things like yoga or pilates when you don’t necessarily want to wear a structured sports bra.”
The bras took a year to develop, going through five rounds of testing (most products would go through three at most), and they were tested by real women in real exercise situations as Lizzie was keen to ensure that they worked and fitted properly for all the sizes in the range. As well as using real women to test the bras, Lizzie carried that through to the marketing of the brand, saying, “it’s important to me with our brand is making sure that the women we are selling our bras to are seeing women like them in our advertising.”
Bras are very much the core of what B.X.M is all about but the brand is reinforcing its mission of making women, regardless of shape and size, feel good whilst working out with a range of three limited-edition boob and body positivity t-shirts featuring designs by Laura Frances Heitzman. The tees are made using GOTS cotton stock shirts, printed in North London by a company that uses eco-conscious inks, and with only 50 of each available, once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Lizzie is deliberately keeping the B.X.M range tight, as she says, “I made the decision to make small quantities of everything to limit the amount of waste and I’m very passionate about making sure whatever we’re selling is fit for purpose”. This approach enables her to improve the designs based on feedback she gets from her customers and allows her more time to develop potential new products. She’s working on a Low Impact bra, designed for yoga and everyday lounging around, to be released next year to fill out the bra collection, and she’s got bikini bottoms (made from the same material as the bras) in the prototype stage too. Working out has never felt so good.