Anesi Bra: Ryerson students help women through engineered comfort

The Anesi bra team at the Re-Engineering competition. (Sameera Raja / Ryersonian Staff)

The Anesi bra team at the Re-Engineering competition. (Sameera Raja / Ryersonian Staff)

A group of Ryerson University students have merged couture and engineering technology to create a brasserie that can shape itself to any woman’s breast size.

Five fashion and engineering students worked together to build the Anesi Bra, which conforms to changing cup sizes and shapes by using a using a form of memory gel. It’s diverse enough to work for both older and younger women.

“Other bras can’t accommodate these fluctuations, like during menopause and pregnancy. As with our product, only a rough size is needed. The material will take care of itself to provide a better fit,” said Jacob John, a fourth-year aerospace engineering student.

Anesi Bra won Ryerson’s first Re-Engineering Fashion competition on March 7, and was awarded $1,000 to turn their prototype into usable lingerie. The group will also get to work in Ryerson’s Fashion Zone for four months. The bra will be presented in the IEEE fashion technology showcase on March 17 at the Sears Atrium.

When third-year fashion communication student, Stephania Stefanakou, first met her team members, their ideas of what to create clashed.

“We were very different, I was thinking more of entertainment and red carpet, one person was interested nutrition and another person wanted to do gaming,” she said. “ I did some research and then suggested that we do something that uses shape-shifting material, and we decided to possibly make a dress.”

The Centre of Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CEIE) and the Fashion Zone, held three talks and workshops in the past two weeks to teach students about wearable technology and commercialization.

After the second workshop, strategic designer Renn Scott mentored students to innovate their designs according to consumer behaviour.

“Renn helped us think of target markets: women 50 and over, and women who are pregnant and often neglected by the fashion industry,” said Stefanakou. “From there, we thought of the problems they dealt with, like back pain. (That) led us to think about bras and we were able to incorporate the shape-shifting component.”

The bra uses Technogel and shape-memory alloy wire to contour to the body, and relieve pressure caused by bra straps.

“The materials can intrinsically remember a shape or form, so at a particular temperature, it can become elastic,” said John. “We will design (the alloy) so that it forms a tight fit, and the gel will be flexible enough to move with the body. There isn’t anything else (like it) on the market from our research.”

The team went for something nostalgic yet fashionable by using trends that were popular during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Stefanakou said this could make their target market of mature women “feel young again.”

Scott, who also moderated the competition, said the judges were impressed by the bra’s concept and real-life practicality.

“The aspect of wearables being stylish — and if it can fit into something a person is already wearing — has become more important. Judges were asking the students to design technology geared towards women, or that were gender-neutral,” said Scott.

Runner-up designs included a wearable-band that indicates a student’s stress level through vibrations, glasses to help visually impaired people through sound, and a bag which features a built-in light.

Rafik Loutfy, director of CEIE, and Robert Ott, chair of the school of fashion, hosted the competition to challenge students to produce fashionable but useful technology.

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