Thursday, June 29, 2006

Revised Design Review

My grandad got all the fame – even his own “Chesty” comic strip in the 1940s. Then my dad got his fifteen minutes of fame in the 1990s when he was worn by Paul Mercurio and then by the Oarsome Foursome. Now though, my brother’s competing with me for the limelight. He thinks Pat Rafter’s pretty great, but when you’re being worn by Sarah O’Hare, everyone takes notice. I’ve had to wait over sixty years, but now it’s my time! It all started when a friend of the family, George Bond, moved from America to Australia in the early 1900s. In 1915 he started a company that imported hosiery and gloves, and two years later he began manufacturing women’s underwear in Sydney.”

It is only in recent years that Bonds Chesty singlets have been available for women, unlike their menswear predecessors, which have been on the market since 1938. Men’s Chestys quickly became a staple in Aussie wardrobes because they were designed to be worn by ‘typical hardworking Aussies’. The women’s Chesty has continued this persona, which has proved popular. Although many other women’s singlets are available, ranging from ‘homebrand’ to designer labels, Chestys are popular because they’re comfortable, cheap, Aussie icons. Being made in Australia, from the natural resource of cotton is also to their advantage, as consumers like to support the Australian economy. Chestys can be pulled on easily because of their single rib knit structure, and because they’re 100% cotton, they allow the wearer’s skin to breathe. The unique wide ‘racer’ straps allow easy arm movement, as the Chesty was originally designed to be worn by labourers and farmhands. Usually worn in a casual environment, women’s Chestys say “our wearer is a ‘down-to-earth’ girl who loves the Aussie lifestyle.”

The cooling cotton content and sleeveless stretch structure of Chestys make them ideal for the hot Aussie climate. Their simple design also makes them inexpensive and thus a great staple wardrobe item. Chestys are also popular overseas because they embody the fun, casual lifestyle of Australians and they’re still comfy in other climates, especially because they’re seamless. Their versatility is another aspect of their universal appeal, because they can be worn to work with a blazer, out partying at night, down to the beach or even as PJs. They also come in many different colours and sizes, with novelty variations such as the printed or ‘hot spot’ Chesty.

However, Chestys can be difficult to wash and dry due to their 100% cotton content, which can cause shrinking and creases. The lack of side seams can also cause the singlet to become out of shape during laundering. Although their knitted structure and range of sizes allow Chestys to be worn by many, they are not flattering for all body types. This is due to their very form fitting structure and exposure of the wearer’s arms and shoulders. This restricts the types of bras that can be worn under the Chesty, which limits their use by large busted women, unless the wearer wants to expose their bra straps. The thin knitted structure of a Chesty, although great for the Aussie climate, can also be quite transparent, which restricts how these singlets can be worn. A further criticism of the Chesty is its mass produced nature, which increases the wearer’s chances of looking just like everyone else. This may be the exact reason it is bought by some consumers, despite its ability to disguise the wearer’s individuality. The Chesty is also easily recognised, which may be looked down upon by some because it is known as an inexpensive, simple design.

The vivid colours, practical design and inexpensive price of Chestys is also recognised as an embodiment of Australia’s casual, down-to-earth lifestyle. With 400 million Chestys having been sold since their invention, this indicates a worldwide love of the Australian attitude. Consumers worldwide appreciate simple, practical designs of any kind (not just fashion designs) because they recognise that there are times when ‘added frills’ are not necessary. The inexpensive price of a Chesty is one of the key reasons behind their success, because they are accessible to nearly every consumer. This indicates that although a large percentage of the world’s population are becoming wealthier, they are still sensible about their finances. People are thinking about the future, instead of just acting spontaneously – being conscious of their spending, and buying practical designs that will outlast the fad. However, of all the women’s Chestys bought in the last few years, many would have been bought for their trend status, while many others would have been bought for their practicality, versatility and inexpensive price. Which consumer are you?

Reference list –
About Bonds [Online] n.d. Available:
Bonds New Womens Chesty [Online] n.d. Available: (photo from here)
Bonds Underwear [Online] 2003. Available:
Chesty Bonds [Online] n.d. Available:
Dores, W. 2005 Hypercolour is Back! [Online]. Available:
Huntington, P. 29 March 2005, ‘Emerging Diva’, Sydney Morning Herald [Online]. Available:
The Australians are Coming [Online] July 2004. Available:
[All accessed 26/6/06]


At 09:19, Blogger frag said...

Hi Lisa, Todd asked me to critique your design review as well; as the person I was meant to review dropped out.

Given that this review is after you have written the second version I thought it would be better to take both of them into consideration and analysis the changes you made in light of the comments you have received.

On initial reading of the first review it starts of quite interesting and the perspective of writing from the singlets point of view is engaging, but, as others have mentioned this vernacular became a little laboured at times. Noting this as you did the second review clearly reads more objectively and this slightly more professional tone did work in terms of helping the review to feel less biased. I would have liked to have seen the review dip back into the ‘singlet narrative’ at times to break up the genre (you sort of expect to hear that voice come back- but it never does). Emily’s comments and the Dale Kerrigan/ Castle idea could have been picked up on and exploited in a very satirical Australian way almost to the point of being an in joke (for Aussies only).

The reviews had a level of historical content that is on one hand an excellent element to pepper in, but this does make it come across like an advertising campaign for Bonds and it is never really lost in the second version. You talked about the cultural significance of the singlet and the company and its iconic status, this I thought really gave depth and another angle to the article. When it came time to critique the design it was only in one paragraph and only on the topic of functionality, I thought it would have been good to see some critique throughout the whole review and even critiquing from other platforms such as the cultural one-, whilst it celebrates the Australian hard working outdoors lifestyle couldn’t you also argue that it send messages that hard labour and working up a sweat is all we are capable of- is there such a thing as the intelligent Aussie? Adding a slightly more rigorous critique while maintaining some narrative and Aussie tongue-in-cheek could have helped, but on the whole I liked it a lot and thought it was one of the most interesting reviews to read.

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