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East London inventor creates ‘StrapTrap’ to stop bra slippage


As spring becomes summer, women are facing the perennial problem of wandering bra straps. But annoying and unsightly strap slippage could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a nifty new device developed by East London inventor Hilda Varley.

The StrapTrap, which fits unobtrusively into the shoulder seams of tops and dresses, was shortlisted for the finals of the British Female Inventor of the Year Award 2003, at the Café Royal, Piccadilly, on 24-25th April. The product is now being developed commercially and could be in the shops by Christmas.

Hilda Varley, a mother of two, artist and part time literacy tutor from Leytonstone, has been working on the StrapTrap for over a year. Hilda said: “Sleeveless dresses look great in the magazines but real women wear underwear, and it doesn’t always stay put!”

“The breakthrough came in March this year when I attended the launch of the East London Inventors Club at the University of East London. It was very inspiring to meet Trevor Baylis and enthusiastic fellow inventors. Staff from the Thames Gateway Technology Centre (TGTC) at UEL’s Docklands Campus gave me invaluable help with design, materials and manufacturing, and we have now progressed the idea to the point of production within just a few weeks.”

“I am a creative person and I like problem solving. The hard bit is turning ideas into products, especially on a shoestring budget. The BFIY, the TGTC at UEL and the East London Inventors Club have been brilliant.”

What women say about wandering bra straps

In spring 2003, Hilda conducted a survey of East London women aged 16 to 69 plus. The findings included:
· 8 in 10 women complained of straps showing or slipping
· 8 in 10 women said they notice when someone else’s straps show.
· three quarters said they would pay more for a garment that stops straps slipping

The overwhelming majority of women surveyed said they found slipping straps annoying and unsightly. Respondents’ comments about visible straps included:
· “It ruins the outfit and looks scruffy”
· “Looks horrible – pull it up!”
· “I’d mention it to a friend – it doesn’t look nice”
· “In the past a no-no; it may be fashionable now but still a bit tacky”

Hilda said: “I initially included men in the survey, but the feedback here was mixed, to say the least! They seemed more interested in the problems involved in unfastening bras, rather than the practicalities of wearing them.”

Bola Olabisi, chair of the BFIY and Managing Director of the Global Women Innovators and Inventors Network (and coincidentally a UEL law graduate) said: “The British Female Inventor of the Year award continues to put the spotlight on inventive women right across the country and I am always delighted to see the high standard of entries that finally make it to the Awards Ceremony and I particularly congratulate Hilda.”

Julie Jones of the Thames Gateway Technology Centre and organiser of the East London Inventors Club said: "It is great to see women doing it for themselves in terms of invention. These awards help women gain the recognition they deserve to develop their inventions into successful products. The Club has only just started, but it has proved tremendously popular, and it is fantastic to see it is already making a real difference."

The East London Inventors Club was launched by in March 2003 as part of a national network to help inventors protect their intellectual property rights and develop their ideas into successful products.

Trevor Baylis OBE, famous as the inventor of the clockwork radio, said: “UEL, along with a handful of other universities including Oxford, Nottingham and Derby, is taking a strong lead in helping inventors make the most of their ideas.”

Patrick Wilson | alfa
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