Best Lingerie Stores: Broad Lingerie in Toronto, Ontario
All About Broad Lingerie:
Parfait Team: What inspired you to start a business?
Sam: I’m lucky to have over a decade of experience in the lingerie industry, primarily as a bra fitter working in a lingerie boutique. During that time I encountered thousands of full busted folks who felt like outliers because of their big breasts. As both a fitter and a full busted woman I hated the fact that despite the efforts of some wonderful specialty retailers, many full busted people feel that bra shopping is a stressful, awkward experience and I wanted to find a way to change that! After a brief stint pursuing a career as an objects conservator, I realized that my true passion is and always has been helping people feel better in their bodies and that creating my own space was the best way to do this.
PT: What about the lingerie industry interested you?
Sam: When I was ten years old my Nana got me a subscription to Vogue which cemented my love of fashion. I’m fascinated by the way that combining different fabrics, shapes and colours can create a different mood. But as a curvy, fuller busted woman, fashion and lingerie have not been easily accessible and societal pressures led to me hiding my body. When I was first fit for a bra, a whole new world of beautiful garments opened up to me. Not only did my clothes look better with a bra in the right size, there were actually bras out there that not only fit my body, but looked beautiful doing it. Wearing bras that fit me and made me feel good about myself really increased my confidence. My goal is to help other people have a similar experience.
PT: Your store is located in Toronto, Ontario. How did you decide on the location?
Sam: A combination of sentimentality and practicality! I grew up in the East End of Toronto and it’s a neighbourhood I’ve always loved for its diversity and sense of community. When looking for a location I found that most of the lingerie stores were west, north or central with a huge gap in the true east end!
PT: Tell us about your store name. What inspired the name Broad Lingerie?
Sam: My store name, Broad Lingerie, is inspired by the type of customer who shops at my store. Smart, savvy, funny and laid back. And of course there’s a pun there. Because I’m a full bust specialty store, the type of people who shop at my store have broad chest measurements!
PT: What do you enjoy most about your local community?
Sam: I really enjoy how much everyone wants to support local businesses. People in this neighbourhood know they have to “vote with their dollars” if they want unique independent shops in their area. Most of my customers hear about the store through word of mouth – people have a good experience and they want to share the love by telling their friends and family. I live in this neighbourhood now and like to support local small business I’m looking for a place to eat, drink or shop.
Bra Fitting at Broad Lingerie:
PT: Why is it important for women to get a professional bra fitting?
Sam: While it is possible to measure yourself or crowd-source bra fitting information, the most time and labour efficient way is to go to a boutique. A good bra fitter will have the experience of working with many different body types and will have a range of different styles on hand to experiment with. The immediacy of working with someone face to face means communication can really flow so a person is able to get the best bra for them rather than some sort of idealized “best bra for X size and shape.” A good fitting bra will always be a combination of technical fit, personal comfort and aesthetics. Working together in real-time is the best way to combine the professional knowledge and experience of a bra fitter with the wants and needs of a client.
PT: What do you wish all women knew about lingerie and bra fitting?
Sam: I wish that people knew that lingerie can be whatever you want it to be. That it doesn’t have to be utilitarian and practical if you love bright colours and patterns. That you can wear black lace for yourself and you don’t need a partner to “look sexy for.” That if you hate bows and frills there are more streamlined options out there for you (and you can always snip off the bows!).
As for bra fitting, I want people to know that if they’ve been wearing the “wrong” size for them, it’s not their fault and it’s not because they are a “weird” size. A lot of people don’t know that way more sizes exist than the traditional 32-38 A-D. A lot of stores carry only a limited range but pretend that they can fit everyone. So that’s how you get a person who buys a 36DD when they’d experience a better fit in a 32F. A lot of people don’t know that they can have something that fits and feels better. I hate how the lingerie industry often frames the fact that a person is wearing the wrong size as yet another thing that women need to fix about themselves. The whole “80% of women are wearing the wrong size – and that includes you!” The problem is accessibility – a lack of access to knowledge and options.
PT: You’re committed to offering a diverse range of styles and sizes for your customers. What do you look for when selecting new styles?
Sam: I look for something that fills a gap in our inventory. Sometimes that’s a particular aesthetic we’re missing, sometimes that’s a particular silhouette. For example, a lot of my customers appreciate having wirefree options, but it’s harder to find wirefree bras that support, come in larger sizes and still look pretty. So when Parfait launched their Adrianna bralette it was a sure thing! I also try to look at styles through my customers’ eyes. It’s easy to get fatigued in this industry (“Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”) but I have to remember that my customers aren’t looking at lingerie day in, day out, year after year. So while a strappy bra may feel a little overdone to me, I realize it may be new and exciting to a lot of my customers!
PT: What is the largest bra size you carry?
Sam: We regularly stock up to a 44JJ (UK) but we order larger sizes as needed!
PT: How many bras does a woman actually need in her lingerie wardrobe?
Sam: A person who wears bras frequently should have at least three everyday bras to rotate, plus a sports bra if they’re active. The type of bras will depend on their clothing and lifestyle (so if you don’t wear white or light clothing you don’t need a skin coloured bra!)
PT: Some of us are shy about buying colored bras. What advice would you give to a woman who loves color, but isn’t sure how to incorporate it into her wardrobe?
Sam: I’d let her know that a colourful bra will be invisible under most dark coloured clothing. So a bright purple bra can be worn under dark clothing just like a black bra – except in this situation she gets a fun little secret just for herself. I’d also tell her that if she was feeling a little adventurous, a pretty colourful bra can be incorporated into an outfit like a piece of statement jewelry or any other accessory. For example, a hint of pretty blue lace peeking out of a blue v-neck dress!
PT: What can you tell our readers about the bra fitting experience at Broad Lingerie?
Sam: First off, a fitting is never mandatory. Our motto is “as much help as you need.” We try to tailor our service-style to the needs and wants of each particular client. So if someone prefers to try things on without the help of a fitter they’re allowed to work on their own. If someone gets stressed out by mirrors, we’ll cover the mirror! At Broad, a fitting more about collaboration rather than instruction. The bra fitter has their product knowledge, experience and expertise and the customer has their preferences and lived experiences. By working together they can find the best bra for the customer’s unique wants and needs.
PT: Do we need an appointment for a bra fitting?
Sam: Not at all! Walk ins are always welcome – but on weekends things can get a little busy, so appointments are always available if you don’t have time to wait!
Shop at Broad Lingerie
Store Address: 1763 Danforth Avenue, in Toronto, Ontario M4C 1J1
Phone Number: 647-725-6838
Website: Broad Lingerie