Farming women make up a significant part of the workforce on dairy farms and the right bra is crucial to them being able to go about their jobs. Sheryl Haitana reports.

Rose and Thorne co-founder Sue Dunmore is on a mission to get more rural New Zealand women wearing bras that are comfortable, give a great fit and are affordable.

“Women should have a bra that’s comfy, looks good and that they can afford – bras for the real NZ women.”

Farming women make up a significant part of the rural workforce on dairy farms and the right bra is crucial to them being able to go about their jobs, but having the right bra is not something that is talked about openly.

A poorly fitted bra can be a torment and detrimental to a woman’s health. It can contribute to neck, back and shoulder pain, bad posture, and lead to breast skin damage.

Without the right support, breast ligaments will stretch and they won’t bounce back, Sue says.

“It’s really important to get the right fit. You need to take care of yourself and not just put up with it because you’ve always put up with it.

“It disappoints me women are still wearing the wrong bra. I’d love to help as many women as possible.”

Women’s breasts change size and shape through the years and women should be making sure they are changing their bra accordingly – yet women often go years without buying a new bra or getting a fitting, she says.

“Our bodies change all the time and often the last thing to change is a woman’s bra.”

Born and brought up in Wales, Sue moved to New Zealand with her South African husband Neil after they met sailing in Panama.

Sue got a job working for Fayreform and then Bendon, where she worked for 15 years as creative director, heading up product development and design.

When the company merged with Australian company Pleasure State, Sue left with a restraint of trade.

She took the time to think about what she’d been doing and where there was a gap in the market.

“When you’re so busy on the treadmill you don’t see the wood for the trees,” she says.

When she talked to women she realised how many were wearing uncomfortable bras.

‘I decided we needed to make bras that were not only comfortable, that also looked good and women could afford.’

A recent Rose and Thorne survey of 4000 women found 80% said a great bra gives them confidence to take on their day. But only 27% were very confident that they were wearing the right size bra.

“I decided we needed to make bras that not only comfortable, that also looked good and women could afford.

“I wanted us to design bras that everyday working women don’t feel they want to take off as soon as they get home because they’re uncomfortable, and that also don’t look like nana bras.”

Sue started Rose and Thorne eight years ago wanting to meet three goals; comfort, fit and affordability.

The small company doesn’t have big overheads so they’re able to deliver a moreaffordable bra for the everyday NZ woman. With a lot of the celebrity labels, bras can easily cost $100 – which is too expensive for many women, she says.

Women often stay wearing the same bras for years because they don’t want to go through the experience of going into a store for a fitting.

Rural women often don’t get into town and probably don’t feel like going in for a bra fitting when they do get there, Sue says. That’s why it’s so important these women can buy online with confidence and know they’re getting a well-fitted bra.

Rose and Thorne has developed the ‘Pocket Bra Guru’ which is an online fitting guide to help women identify their best size and fit and give them confidence to buy online.

The company has five different bra shapes, with each shape using its own unique pattern, which is used in every bra. That means once a woman finds the size and shape that fits best, they can buy the same style in any design or colour with confidence and be guaranteed the same fit.

“Bras are a hard thing to buy online, but when you have the right size and the right shape, it’s easy.”

Rose and Thorne were at the Fieldays this year and had a great response to their free bra-fitting service and the Active Bra, which was created with busy rural women in mind.

The Active Bra is designed to keep breasts exactly where they should be throughout the whole day, without the compression of a normal sports bra.

The Active Bra caters for needs that are simply not met in the huge gap between pretty everyday bras and super-functional sports bras that compress the chest to stop the bounce, Sue says.

“For working women, it’s not all about controlling bounce – it’s about providing great support in front to protect from back strain, while keeping the girls in their place, all day long.”

Adding a soft, high-mesh neckline prevents breasts from moving up when leaning forward. Padded, wider shoulder straps provide extra comfort and a double-layered back panel provides extra support.

“I think it’s perfect for rural women – they are the epitome of busy, active women.”

“It keeps your breasts in place, provides comfort on the shoulders and helps with posture. It’s more comfortable and doesn’t create a monoboob.”

The Active Bra costs $45, which is cheaper than a normal sports bra which can cost twice the price, Sue says.