Claire Dumican (@bflycollection) left the UK for Canada seven years ago, where her experiences shopping as an ex-pat inspired her to set up Butterfly Collection. Now, her company provides more affordable lingerie for bigger boobs in Canada, with free shipping across the country. But Claire’s ambitions go beyond lingerie retail: Claire is on a mission to re-educate women about fitting, so that everyone can experience the life-enhancing benefits of properly supportive lingerie. As well as offering a personal fitting service to individuals and parties, Butterfly Collection’s Online Bra School is a fantastic resource for finding a good fit by yourself. And Claire, whilst manning the Canadian front of the global battle, has been an invaluable and knowledgeable support in the war on plus four tousles of recent weeks. Fortunately for us, Claire is as lovely as she is inspiring, and was was kind enough to answer a few questions for busts4justice.com. Check her out chatting boobs, bras and body image below.
What is the lingerie market like in Canada? How does it cater for busty women?
La Senza and Victoria’s Secret dominate the high street. Because La Senza is a Canadian brand it has a lot of customer loyalty here. Neither of these stores is aimed at busty women and currently there isn’t a high street brand that caters to busty women. A lot of busty women have to shop online in the States or buy from boutiques.
What inspired you to set up The Butterfly Collection?
After living here for 4 years I decided I ought to try buying bras here rather than waiting for a trip back home. I knew La Senza and Victoria’s Secret didn’t carry my size, I’m a 32H/34G, so I went to a big department store (the most reputable in Canada). After a cursory browse I asked an assistant if they had bras over a D cup. She looked at me for a moment then said “you mean a double D?” I replied “and the rest of the alphabet.” She shook her head definitively and said “oh no, you’ll need to visit a specialist store.” She may as well have said that I was a freak and needed not to mention my big bosoms in public!
I visited a ‘specialist store’ as directed and they did indeed have my size but they were about $180 each – that’s 120GBP! I went home to find the Canadian equivalent of Bravissimo or Naturally Close. There were lots of companies that would post to Canada but they would have to come across the border which means border fees – not a convenient way to shop for Canadians. My choices were, forever bra shop in England or start an online store for busty Canadians. 18 months later Butterfly Collection was born.
What is your mission?
My mission is two-fold. I want to educate Canadian women about their bra size (the Plus Four Method dominates in Canada) so that they can experience the freedom and happiness of being in the right bra. Secondly, I want to make E+ bras more accessible and affordable for Canadian women so that busty women have choice.
What could lingerie companies do to make things better for curvy women?
I would love North American brands to start making bigger cup sizes and smaller backs. I have a couple of Canadian brands that I love but they don’t do 28 or 30 backs and stop at an F or G cup. The biggest thing I would love to see from lingerie manufacturers and retailers is more education for young women. If we can get 16 year olds interested and passionate about bra size then they could avoid a lifetime of feeling uncomfortable and inadequate in their bra.
What would you say was the single most important thing to consider when fitting bras correctly?
I would say that confidence is really important. I think a lot of women feel intimidated because they’ve been taught to believe that bra fittings are complicated and may ultimately result in an uncomfortable bra that you just have to live with! I want to demystify the bra fitting experience so that it is accessible to women. Bra knowledge is empowering both physically and emotionally.
Do you have any advice for girls feeling unhappy about or pressurised to change their body shape?
Remember that you are a completely unique human being and that is the most beautiful thing about you. The most wonderful moments for me are when a woman who has always felt uncomfortable in her bras and clothes, and consequently uncomfortable in her skin, finds a bra that fits her and rediscovers how amazing her body is and how confident she can feel. Bodies shouldn’t fit fashion, fashion should fit bodies.
Canadian readers near Vancouver can request personal fittings through the Butterfly Collection website, or anyone can check out the excellent Bra School resource for advice finding your own way to a perfect fit.