Biographical / Historical
Hinda Schreiber Miller (b. April 18, 1950-) was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She attended the Parsons School of Design (B.F.A., 1972) and New York University (M.F.A., 1976). A costume designer by training, Miller was one of three co-inventors of the modern sports bra in 1977. She and her co-inventors, Lisa Lindahl and Polly Palmer Smith, made their prototype from a pair of men's jock straps in the Costume Department at the University of Vermont.
Miller started the company, Jogbra, Inc., which she renamed JBI, Inc. in 1977 and ran it until it was bought by Playtex Apparel, Inc. in 1990. Playtex Apparel was sold to the Sara Lee Corporation in 1991. Throughout these transitions, Miller continued to serve as president and became CEO of the Champion Jogbra Division of Sara Lee in 1994. Miller left the company in 1997 to pursue other interests. She later became a Vermont state senator (2002-2013) representing the Chittenden District which includes all of Chittenden County. Miller ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 2006. She is presently president of DeForest Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in small business and the promotion of women entrepreneurs. Miller is married to Dr. Joel Miller and they have one son and one daughter.
The introduction of the sports bra made more sports possible for many American women. Many women were reluctant to participate in sports such as running, basketball, or tennis because of the embarrassment and discomfort associated with the excessive breast motion experienced while participating in sports. The passage of Title IX (1972) and James Fixx's popular 1977 book
The Complete Book of Running
contributed to the increased popularity of sports for women. This increase in women's sports exposed the inadequacies of conventional brassieres for athletic use: weight shifts from bouncing caused straps on ordinary brassieres to slip around or off the shoulder; excessive motion caused friction and chafed skin; and hooks or other metallic elements tended to poke into the skin; excessive bouncing caused soreness.
Lisa Lindahl's sister, Victoria Woodrow, was frustrated by the inadequacy of her everyday brassiere when she began jogging in the 1970s. Lindahl also jogged and met with the same problems. They went to multiple stores and inquired, but could not find a bra that fit their needs--a bra that kept the breasts pressed flat against the chest and eliminated motion. They also wanted something without seams and hooks, wire or other metal elements. Miller and Palmer Smith created a few prototypes. At the suggestion of Lindahl's husband, the two sewed a pair of jockstraps together and found it to be better than any of their previous prototypes. Originally, they called their product the "JockBra" but later changed it to "JogBra", figuring that the word "jock" might be a turn-off for some women. US Patent 4,174,717 for an athletic brassiere was issued on November 20, 1979.
Marketing their new product (with start-up capital lent by Miller's father, Bruce L. Schreiber) was a challenge. According to Lindahl, buyers for sporting goods stores were "squeamish" about displaying bras, which did not look like lingerie, but an athletic garment. Stores that did feature the Jogbra were pleased by how well it sold. Miller placed strong emphasis on the point of purchase advertising and packaging. The Jogbra line of products expanded to include a women's and men's sport brief and the Thermobra and Thermobrief. Soon, a number of manufacturers, including Vanity Fair, Olga and Warner, were entering the sports bra market.