There's a certain irony to clothing - it seems to matter because it's seen (everyone wants to look pretty and well dressed, right?), although in reality, it's what's not seen that actually matters.
The 3D Silhouette Analyser can accurately capture measurements even through clothes.
We're not talking just about your body - what the clothes are meant to cover in the first place before clothing becomes something more than just covering up. We're talking about the fact that much as people seem to care about the clothes they're seen in, not many seem to understand that undergarments - what others won't see (unless you do see-through, that is) - can be a decisive factor in keeping you in the shape that looks best in any clothes you wear.
For a start, has it ever occurred to you that you need to keep changing bras throughout your life and that you really can't just wear what you have till it literally falls apart?
Imagine a Matrix-esque moment where gravity is taking its toll on every body part as you are running in slow motion: your screaming mouth is gargling punches of air from every direction and your breasts are jigging up and down in slo-mo as well. It is the latter action we are concerned about - because the more those parts move, the more you will look like Granny Saggy before your time.
"As you age, your 'twins' will sag and point out," said Taizou Kishimoto, manager of the Human Science Research Centre at Wacoal, the household name in underwear. Mr Kishimoto explained that human muscle structure changes as you age, and if your undergarments that are meant to support your body parts don't change, it could result in distorted bones and posture. The more drastic the changes you have faced in your life, such as childbirth or breast cancer surgery, the more attention you must put into choosing your bras.
One of the first names every female thinks of when she treads on the grounds of womanhood, Wacoal was started in Japan in 1946. For over 60 years - as the undergarment industry evolved from concealed simplicity to flashy spectacle (ask Victoria's Secret and Agent Provocateur) - Wacoal has led the field in anatomical research and technological innovation that makes underwear body-friendly in every age.
The Japanese underwear manufacturer has devoted a great deal of time and resources studying changes in the human body.
"In Japan, there is data of around 40,000 women who have been studied over the last 50 years. There are also around 3,000 people in the database that get called in regularly to meticulously experiment new products before they go on sale," said Mr Kishimoto. Wacoal has products for every age group - toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, working women, newlyweds, mothers and the elderly - and there are 10-50 people from each age group within that "monitor" group.
Without this crucial and scrupulous research, it would have been impossible to catch minor differences and trends that crop up. An interesting finding is that the average Japanese woman's breasts are an inch wider apart compared to the average Thai woman.
The Wacoal collection in Japan has over 140 designs.
"Girls these days also need to wear a bra as early as nine-years-old because their bodies develop faster thanks to evolving consumption behaviour," said Thamarat Chokwatana, vice-president of Wacoal products in Thailand.
As breasts consist entirely of fat and tissue and since there are no muscles at all, no exercise can save you. Researcher Mai Sudo explains that in order to keep your breasts shapely and delay sagging, it is crucial that you wear the correct type of bra so your tissue does not stretch.
It sounds simple, but up to 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra according to Wacoal. It's easy to forget sometimes, but when your shape looks right from wearing the correct undergarments, the clothes you wear will also look nicer.
While all this sounds like a logical thing any undergarment company should keep an eye on, not many other brands focus on the bodily changes everyone goes through as we age. Wacoal's research centre invests 200 million baht in research and development each year. Highly sophisticated and costly equipment to make work more efficient is used and gone are the days where tape was used to measure. A 3D Silhouette Analyser is used to capture measurements of women from all age groups. Sensors on the machine provide a 360-degree view and much greater accuracy while taking less time. Three silicon dummies used in the lab are worth a combined 10 million baht.
There are also controlled temperature rooms which can even simulate the heat and humidity of the hottest day in Kyoto.
"If we are testing bra usage in the winter, the person will really have to wear a coat and hat inside it, just like in real life," said Sudo.
Thanks to having an extensive background and knowledge about anatomy, Wacoal also produces sportswear under the CW-X brand, among many other sub-brands. It evolved from the tummy tuckers and is designed to compress your muscles.
"When your muscles are tight and move less, it takes more time for you to get tired, meaning you can exercise for longer," said Katsuyuki Ishida, Wacoal PR. It's these little fruits of research that help us live a better quality life.
What Wacoal has to say about bra fittings:
- Don't just remember your size. Try on the bra before you buy every time.
- People change all the time, so you should check every three months in case you have gained or lost weight during that period.
- Measurements and sizes vary from country to country, so if you are buying a bra abroad you definitely should try it on before you purchase it.
- Don't dismiss it as a ''normal'' thing if the bra has gaps or if it is too tight. Your bra needs to fit perfectly for you to get the most support from it.
- You should not just stuff cloth into your old bras if you have gone through breast cancer surgery. You should get a new bra fitted properly with the proportionate silicon/rubber moulds so it will not ruin your posture and body balance. Your bones will get distorted if your breasts aren't equal in size and weight.
About the author
- Writer: Parisa Pichitmarn
Position: Life Writer