The modern sports bra was invented in 1977.
But it wasn’t at Nike, Adidas, or any other major sports brand.
It was actually at the University of Vermont’s Royall Tyler Theatre, where Lisa Lindahl, Polly Smith, and Hinda Miller first created what would be called their “Jogbra,” by essentially sewing two jockstraps together.
Now Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) is using that nugget of athletics history trivia as the core of a new brand campaign.
The ad comes a month after Dick’s announced its 2020 Women’s Initiative program, which includes redesigning stores to include more room for women’s and girls’ products; a three-year, $5 million grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation to engage 100,000 girls in underserved communities by 2023; and a sponsorship of USA Softball. Company president Lauren Hobart says that the company is also adding to its own line of products, through both the DSG and Calia by Carrie Underwood brands, and working with major brand partners to provide a better, wider selection of female-focused products. Next week in NYC, Carrie Underwood is walking in an all-female fashion show for DSG, featuring trendy lifestyle pieces available from brands for girls and women.
“You see the sports bra wasn’t invented until 1977, but even today, girls are being asked to play in unisex basketball shoes, and a number of other things,” says Hobart. “We are really passionate about trying to create products designed for the young female athletes. We really have woken up to the fact that there are two types of athletes. There’s the younger team-sport consumer, but then there is a whole other group who may not be playing active team sports, who we call the athletic female—who’s into sports, exercise, the outdoors—and we didn’t feel like we were serving them well enough.”
It’s the year 2020, and still too many sports equipment manufacturers are employing the “shrink-it-and-pink-it” approach.
Although there has been a ton of progress on the apparel side, with major brands seeing the lucrative opportunity in the female athletic market, the industry has been much slower with things like footwear for soccer and basketball made specifically for women and girls.
Created with ad agency Anomaly, DSG’s new ad is narrated by (and stars) former U.S. Soccer star and World Cup winner Brandi Chastain. She made the sports bra famous after scoring the winning penalty to beat China in the 1999 World Cup final in front of 90,125 fans at the Rose Bowl, and about 40 million watching on TV. The goal, and that move, made both Chastain—and the sports bra—a star.
But that was 20 years ago.
Hobart is hoping that this campaign and, more importantly, its investments behind it, will help raise awareness and action. “Girls are dropping out of sports at a higher rate than boys, so we felt we had to address the issue from that perspective as well,” says Hobart. “First and foremost is making sure they have the best product possible.
Two of the original JogBras are on display at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to mark the past. Now it’s time that the choices available to female athletes catch up to the future.