Brassiere US Patent no. 236,237 by Waldemar Kops

Brassiere US Patent no. 236,237 by Waldemar Kops. The Underpinnings Museum

Date:  1925

Origin: Patent filed in the United States, document from the Netherlands

The 1920s were a period of great experimentation when it came to the brassiere. In the previous decade, women had largely relied on corsets for bust support. The introduction of a separate garment for bust support offered much greater flexibility and far less restriction than full-body corsetry. Many early brassieres included tapes for attachment to a girdle or corset underneath, for security and smoother lines under clothes.

Waldemar Kops filed a great number of patents for improvements and inventions to brassieres and corsetry, under the brands Nemo Circlet Company and Kops Bros.

Founded in 1894 by Waldemar and Daniel Kops and registered as a company in New York in 1924, Kops Brothers was a corsetry firm with a zeal for patents. The brothers secured at least forty-one patents between 1904 and 1931. It was relatively easy for corset manufacturers to switch to making brassieres at this time because they were typically made from either the same types of lightweight fabrics as corset covers and drawers, or corset-weight coutil which was used for heavy duty styles to control and support the bust.

Textile and clothing historians Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau say in their book Uplift: The Bra in America that the Kops Brothers’ bras were perhaps the most conservative in styling and their ‘wrap-around designs and extensive use of corsetlike adjustments may have appealed to mature women.’ They claim that the Kops Brothers brassieres, Nemo Circlets, ‘had a stodgy image’ before 1924 when Kops Brothers switched their advertising account to a firm known for its market research, in an attempt to address flagging sales. By following the demands of their customers, Kops Brothers escaped the fate of many other early twentieth century bra companies and survived until the late 1960s.

From the collection of The Underpinnings Museum

Museum Number: UM-2017-016


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