Bra Fitting at Triumph Asia

Abstract: This is a rant about ‘plus four’ and Triumph’s highly questionable measuring tape.

Some months ago, I visited a Triumph store in Asia. This is the measuring tape that the fitter used in order to decide that I was between an 80D and an 85B (UK 36D and 38B). The tape has a strange grid printed on the reverse side. The band sizes on the grid go up to 100 (UK 44) but the cups all stop at E (UK DD).

Image source: photographed by me.

The measuring procedure seems to be:

  1. Measure the customer’s ribcage.
  2. Measure the customer’s bust and turn the tape over at that point.
  3. Look at the grid and choose whichever band size is closest to the customer’s ribcage measurement.

This is a giant fitting fail in so many ways. I mean, that grid — what even is that? According to Triumph, if you have an 85 cm bust, the only possible bra size for you is 70B (32B), no matter what your ribcage measures. The assumption that one bust measurement corresponds to a maximum of two bra sizes is totally ignorant; if your bust measures 85 cm, you could be anywhere from a 24GG to a 34AA depending on the size of your ribcage. Triumph clearly disagrees.

Also problematic is equating the band size (in centimeters) with the customer’s ribcage measurement. This is actually a good idea with UK bra sizes, because a UK 32 band bra is actually 32″ long (or it should be, at any rate). Since Asian bras, however, follow the European band sizing system, they have ‘plus four’ (or ‘plus ten’, I suppose, if we’re talking centimeters) built-in — if you have an 80 cm (32″) ribcage and buy an 80 band bra, it’s actually 90 cm (36″) long, and thus two band sizes too big. (And this is before taking into account how large or small the bras run. It’s only one data point, but I measured the 80D (36D) bras that the fitter gave me, and they stretched to between 38″ and 40″. Thus, if I’d listened to the fitter, I would have wound up buying a bra four sizes — eight inches — too big for my 32″ ribcage. Yikes.)

The fitting method I encountered here is basically an implicit and insiduous version of the ‘plus four’ con — a different, but equally obnoxious, method of deceiving women into buying bras that don’t fit. It seems less suspect because the process involves no explicit adding or subtracting of centimeters, but that grid is pretty alarming. I can just picture the fitters rebutting protesting customers with an “of course it fits you — look, it says 85B right there on the tape!”. Sigh.

I wish people weren’t so stuck in the idea that bands below 32 don’t exist, and that an A cup is tiny, a B is normal, a C is big, a D is huge, a DD is unthinkably enormous, and there aren’t any more letters after that. Really, you can’t blame individual bra fitters for being stuck in the ‘Bra Matrix’, because it’s the manufacturers and designers who create and perpetuate these rubbish bra fitting heuristics. At least the fitter I spoke to wasn’t at all rude or pushy. She did let me photograph her measuring tape, after all, and she admitted that band sizes are a matter of personal preference (though she cautioned me against wearing anything smaller than a 36 band, claiming a 34 would cause back fat).

So I guess that’s all of my spleen vented for today. It’s a shame that Triumph’s size range is so limited, because their bras, from what I saw, are actually pretty nice. They’re about the same price as Freya and Panache bras, but the quality seems much higher. I almost want to buy one and send it to Freya (the quality of whose products seems to be caught in a downward spiral) with a note that says “This is how you make a bra!” … Sorry, did I say I was finished ranting? I guess there was still a little bit of bra-related splenetic vitriol left in the tank there.

1 comment
  1. Interestingly, Triumph is a German company. They have a lot of distribution in East Asia, where the busts seem to be smaller on average (that’s what Mom says, anyway, and why she’s baffled by my bustline). Germany and East Asia seem to be pretty stuck in the bra matrix, unfortunately.

    As for writing Freya, they’ve been acquired by an a Japanese company, Wacoal. I’m curious as to what that will do to their construction/makes.

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