Bracode - Cracking the code of gradated sizing

Bracode is a humanistic measuring kit that addresses issues of form and function as explored through bra-wearing.


As Stephen Gardiner once said, “the Industrial Revolution was another one of those extraordinary jumps in the story of civilization.” Production facilities lead to the division of labour and mass production which was further supported by IT systems for automation in the 1900s. Today, we are in and the world of IoT, cloud technology, and virtual reality, which can automate even more complex tasks. With the rapid evolution of new technology, there are opportunities to look at the way we make clothes and how they should fit the individual body which cannot always be represented by a standard sizing system. 

The current global idea of modelling a standard sizing system to accommodate everyone divides people by over-simplifying the human body. To force a body into one size or bracket, the notion of individuality is lost. Your ribs that stick out a little or that extra roll of fat under your chest or the fact that you have narrow shoulders is no longer relevant and, should in fact, be disregarded in order to fit into a size that you can wear. There is not currently another option other than to force yourself to fit into these clothes rather than having the clothing fit you. Clothing manufacturers do a fairly good job of selling bras to women, in spite of the majority of women being sold ill-fitting bras. 

Research timeline


By providing individuals with the tools that they need to effectively evaluate the appropriate fit, form, and function of bras, we will change bra fitting into a user-centric process with the potential for addressing personalized needs in the manufacturing sector.

Design Problems 

  • Clothing fit has long been inaccessible for any but the wealthy. 
  • Apparel manufacturing has not seen any major advancements in patternmaking since the 1800s. 
  • Bras don’t fit the user well, the sizing system varies from brand to brand. 


  • Use brand to shape the culture of dress. 
  • Use technology to create a user-centric system that addresses the individual and experience clothing in a new way. 

Design Objectives 

Distill a measurement and educational system that enables bra-wearers to effectively evaluate the fit, form, and function of ready-to-wear bras for the individual.



As part of our initial research, we asked our Facebook friends about their experiences with bras in an anonymous survey.

We had 1576 respondents to our anonymous questions about wearing bras. Our questions were designed to allow us to test our hypotheses on bra wears, as follows: 

  • It is difficult for most people to find comfortable bras to wear. 
  • The current sizing system(s) are ill-conceived and do not service the bra-wearing population. 
  • Bra wearers are very likely to own a higher number of bras than they actually wear. 
  • Bra wearers are open to the idea of a new or different approach to bras. 

Survey results

We were able to learn a great deal about bra wearers and how they relate to the sizing systems that are currently in place. Many comments indicated dissatisfaction with what they are able to access in terms of well-fitting bras.


In the first semester, we conducted a co-creation workshop to gain insight on how people could come up with ways of measuring their own busts by using an array of tools. We wanted to use this time to observe what came intuitively on how to measure their bust without giving much direction and also used this opportunity to have more intimate conversations around bra issues and wearing them in general. The following tasks conducted were as follows: 

  • TASK A: Measure your own bust with any resource (measuring tapes, string, pipe cleaners, unmarked measuring tapes, and gradient tapes provided) 
  • TASK B: Draw your bra & note any issues 
  • TASK C: Bra talk and discussion of obtaining detailed measurement at home; guidance on personal measurement. 

Our participants came up with some creative ways to measure themselves but were unanimously unsuccessful in finding their measurements. An idea that resonated with them was to have a measuring tape that could capture their measurements easily using analog methods. 

The most common pain points expressed verbally and in Task B were regarding bras being generally uncomfortable. Other common problem areas included underwire, and that bras were too tight-fitting around the rib cage. 

Of the 14 participants, five were able to take their own measurements at home with our instructions and provide them to us. 

Through this co-creation, we were able to conclude that bra-wearers are motivated to find more comfortable solutions to their bra needs. We also discovered that there is a low level of understanding of how the human body interacts with bras, and how to troubleshoot poorly fitting bras. Also, the participants in our co-creation were unanimous in wearing bras in sizes and shapes that were not appropriate for their breast and torso structures.


Logo System

The logo references technical methodology and the inspiration of a quantifiable system. The choice of a mono-type font supports this, while the rainbow references the spectrum of human bodies. The hexagon shapes are a callback to the hex code colour system favoured for web graphics, for which I had developed a colour output system for in the fall semester, while the whimsical placement of the hexagons evoke a celebratory balloon bouquet while inferring that bra-wearers have a variety of sizing needs that can be addressed with the bracode system.

The wordmark and the hexagon rainbow design can be used separately. 

The wordmark can also be reversed out from the approved gradient or from the hexagon rainbow when used with a dark background or may stand alone on a black background. 

The wordmark is printed in white vinyl on transparent surfaces that overlay the hexagon gradient, the approved gradient, or dark environmental backgrounds, but is rendered in black vinyl if the transparent medium appears over a white background. 

Image Handling 

The visual treatments for photography that support the brand make use of the bracode gradient through a specific art direction and photo editing system. 

Bras are depicted in groups in order to keep the focus off of specific types of bras. 

People are not used in an objectifying fashion. 

A mask is created using a selection criterion that allows for a lossy capture of the tonal value of the image and then overlaid on a black and white version of the picture, effectively eliminating details in the darker regions while highlighting details in some of the lighter areas. 

This is overlaid over a cloud variant of the bracode gradient that is created on an image-by-image basis. 

A copy of the mask is applied to a white layer on top, which gives us more contrast; a blown out negative, where the high and low points on the curve allow the gradient 

Social media: reaching bra-wearers

Encouraged by the success that I had with the original survey which I disseminated over social media, it is my intent to launch Bracode social media presence as a series of social media and meme-style posts that people can share. The contents of these posts will initially be simple follower acquisition posts, and then will be followed up by troubleshooting snippets for bra-wearers. 

The Bracode kit would be launched along with a website that enables entry of personal measurements using the kit, and provides feedback on sizing. 

Bracode Kit Development

Soft Tape Measure 

This measurement device is a twist on a traditional tailor’s measuring tape. 

The tape is divided into two sections, with the same measurement system on each side. 

The measurements increase by 1 inch or centimetre on each side, but the numbering doubles, allowing the individual to measure from the centre of the tape rather than the end of the tape 

The measuring tape goes up to 110 inches or 280 centimetres to allow people of different sizes to use the system without modification. 

The colours will help the individual match the sides of the tape correctly with the sticker system, which allows for the analog collection of all of the necessary measurements to determine their size and recommended fit of bras. 

A paper pattern will also be made available online so that everyone can use the method so long as they have access to a printer. 

Exhibition Development

Showcasing bracode 

The bracode project was exhibited during the grad show, and consisted of: 

  • a series of hanging acrylic hexagons and acrylic letters for signage, with instructional information inscribed 
  • a table or plinth to showcase the kit, and the component pieces of the kit 
  • a dress form to display the kit in action 
  • larger than life-sized bras with descriptive tags for decoding the purpose of the different bra structures
  • takeaway cards and tape measures for Industry Night.

Exhibition Kit 

The handsewn exhibition kit is intended to showcase the brand and functionality of the bracode system. Originally developed in paper, and then in cardstock, I opted for a sewn approach to refer back to the apparel basis of this system. The kit is made of: 

  • Vinyl fabric and lettering 
  • Acrylic end pieces 
  • Cardstock 
  • Hook and loop tape and elastic bands 

The kit is designed to hold: 

  • 1 bracode measuring tape 
  • 1 bra band stretch tester 
  • 1 set of instructions 
  • 1 bra anatomy and troubleshooting guide 
  • 1 set of bracode measuring system stickers


There are two types of stickers for use in the kit: 

  • Hexagonal stickers for placement on the user’s body to assist in placing the measuring tape 
  • Tear away stickers that correspond to kit instruction letters (A-G) on them, which you place and tear according to the included instructions. 

The stickers are used with the bracode measuring tape. These two combined allow the individual to take numerous necessary measurements in quick succession while maximizing the success rate of taking these measurements 

The Exhibition