A Show of Support: The Creators of the Sports Bra Are Now in the National Inventors Hall of Fame
By Jake Rossen
In 1977, Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith wanted to find a way to make exercise more comfortable for women. So they sewed two jockstraps together to create a prototype for what would become known as the sports bra, and revolutionized the fitness apparel industry in the process. Brands like Nike, Champion, and Under Armour all market versions of the trio's invention. And now all three of them will be cementing their place in history with membership in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
According to WCAX, the three Vermont residents—who named their creation the Jogbra—were honored during a ceremony at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week for their work on the bra, which had a radical impact on the health of women.
The idea initially came from Lindahl, an avid runner living in Burlington, Vermont, who found that conventional bras lacked the support or design that would make physical exertion comfortable. She wanted a bra with stable straps, breathable fabric, and compression. So she asked Smith, a childhood friend and costume designer, for help.
Smith sewed two men’s athletic supporters together, which Lindahl tested while running. Later, the garment was modified with non-chafing seams and an elastic band for support. Lindahl partnered with Miller to co-found Jogbra Inc. in 1977, with the garment being patented in 1979. The sports bra market grew into a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and their invention is credited with helping millions of women take up running.
Lindahl was CEO of Jogbra until it was sold to Playtex in 1990. Miller stayed with the company through 1997 and later became a Vermont state senator. Smith became a designer for the Jim Henson Company and earned seven daytime Emmys.
The three women will also be honored in May in Washington, D.C. for the Greatest Celebration of American Innovation event.