Happy Birthday: The Sports Bra Turns 40


They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that was certainly true for the sports bra.

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX – a law that did not actually mention “sports,” but was a game changer in women’s athletics. A few years later, The Complete Book of Running spurred a fitness craze among both genders in the United States.

But women athletes still lacked the support they needed – from their bras. Enter Hinda Miller, Lisa Lindahl and Polly Palmer-Smith, who were determined to end the slippage, chafing, poking and soreness women experienced after exercising in traditional bras. After a suggestion from Lindahl’s husband, the women stitched two, upside-down jock straps together and invented the Jogbra – a revolution in ready-to-wear clothing and women’s sports.

Jogbra was sold to Playtex Apparel in 1990, which became part of Sara Lee Corporation in 1991. It was rebranded as Champion in 1994.

“Before the sports bra, a lack of physical support was a barrier to female participation in sports and athletic endeavors,” said Susan Hennike, president of the Champion brand. “Now, women can easily participate in any sport, no matter how intense. And we are focused on continuing the revolution through research-based product development to meet the needs of our consumers. As new sports proliferate, so will our consumers’ options for the perfect corresponding bra.”

Forty years later, the original Jogbra now resides in the Smithsonian Institute, and no one is saying that women can’t be jocks.



Champion is honoring the sports bra’s heritage with a special-edition Absolute Sports Bra. The red-and-white design features a special “1977” jock tag on the back— a nod to the tags found on jock straps and the year the first sports bra was sold. The “easy on, easy off” product features mesh panels for breathability and elastic straps that cross in the back, but is updated with modern materials and styling. It’s available on www.champion.com and at Kohl’s.Print