Published Jun 3, 2021
Looking not only at design, but understanding the wants and needs of women who have experienced reconstructive surgery, sisters Xuxu and Aida Amoozegar-Montero are aiming to revolutionise the way bras are designed, using a system that will allow women to take more specific, individual measurements, used to create a custom 3D knitted bra for inherently better fit.
Having worked with Wellington UniVentures for some time around protecting their intellectual property, Wellington UniVentures recommended that the sisters apply for the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme. Xuxu and Aida’s drive and ambition to break the mould in bra design and measurement technology, saw them successfully join the programme in February 2021.
Originally from California, Xuxu and Aida moved to New Zealand to complete their Undergraduate studies in Design Innovation and Psychology respectively, at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.
After starting her Master’s in Design Innovation and Industrial Design in 2016, Xuxu began to look at the potential of 3D knit technology, specifically focusing on the design of custom bras. Xuxu’s research found that bra fit is an issue for many women due to size limitations and an inadequate bra measuring system. With over 80% of women wearing the wrong size bra, Xuxu’s Masters validated the need for 3D technology to be applied in a way that could standardise bra fit and comfort.
When Xuxu started working on her PhD, her research focused on developing a new system for bra design and fit. Through her research, she uncovered a gap in the market for women who had experienced reconstructive surgery. Delving deeper into her work, Xuxu realised that bra fit for this group of women went beyond just the design and called to her sister for help in researching the emotional and psychological impact of finding the right bra post-surgery.
Aida, who had just completed her Master’s in Women and Gender Studies, began working with Xuxu and is now focusing her PhD on better understanding the experiences of women post-surgery. Women who require a mastectomy or reconstruction go through a huge change both physically and emotionally and Aida’s research found that there isn’t a lot of information that addresses post-operative adjustments. Through qualitative research, Aida found that post-surgery, many women rely on bras to increase both confidence and symmetry. Not only that, but it’s a chance for these women to regain a sense of normalcy that was lost from the moment of diagnosis. Having a bra that fits is a step away from their breast cancer journey and a step towards the healing process.
Having Aida come on board from this perspective helped Xuxu to create a more accurate system for bra measurement.
The system works by allowing women to take their own measurements at home. An individual’s unique measurements are then inputted into an app and the data is used to create a custom 3D knit bra. Compared to current systems where just two metrics (bust girth and cup size) are required, 12 different data points are entered to create the bra. The 3D technology is applied to create more complex shapes for a better fit.
Xuxu told us: “The project really stemmed from knowing that everyone struggles to find bras. Currently, there is a standard size and shape, and it’s been that way since the first bra was patented over 100 years ago. We want bras to fit women, rather than women to fit bras and we know that 3D scanning and 3D knit technology can help with this.”
The use of 3D knitting in bra design isn’t new, but it’s typically used for camisoles and sports bras and the technology doesn’t advocate for what the shape looks like underneath clothing. Xuxu and Aida’s system creates bras for everyday use, fitting to exact individual measurements and style preferences. 3D knit technology is used all over the world, meaning that the system can be easily applied and at an affordable cost for the customer.
Xuxu and Aida knew that they wanted to use their research to create a product and apply it to real-life situations.
Understanding how the team at Wellington UniVentures could help get their idea off the ground, the sisters began working with the team to learn processes and entrepreneurial skills to transfer the technology. Senior Commercialisation Manager, Ashwath Sundaresan has supported the idea, helping to develop the initial concept and protect the intellectual property. Ashwath recommended the sisters apply for KiwiNet’s Emerging Innovator Programme to better learn the ropes around commercialisation.
Xuxu shared: “The Wellington UniVentures team have been incredibly encouraging and have helped us to understand the potential in our work from the offset. Ashwath has kept our project moving to ensure that every stage aligns with our end goal. In February, we were accepted onto the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme and we’re excited to receive business mentorship to help take our work from research findings to useable technology.”
“The Wellington UniVentures team have supported Xuxu and Aida since the very start of their journey. Meeting them in 2018 and seeing the potential in their project, we have seeded support through not only the development of their technology, but in helping them to better understand the commercialisation pathway. Many researchers are often unaware of the different routes they can take, and I think it’s great that we can provide this resource right from the beginning as their ideas take shape.” Ashwath explained.
Read more about the project here.