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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 22 July, 1999, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Battle of the bulges
ultimo bra
The new Ultimo promises great things
A bra war has broken out in the world of women's underwear as companies struggle to come up with new ways to create a cleavage.

After more than two years of scientific development, the newest contender in the market is the gel-filled Ultimo bra, which is about to be launched in Britain.

Its secret weapon is a pouch of gel inside each cup which mimics the movement of breast tissue.

sue nelson
The bra industry is worth 500m a year
Kim Rawlings, a manager with Contours, said: "On the market at the moment, we can have a water-filled bra, we can have an air-filled bra that has a tiny little pump on the side so that you can be bigger, you can be smaller - depends on your mood."

Michelle Mone of MJM International is convinced the Ultimo will prove a winner in lingerie departments across the country.

The prototypes have had to undergo punishing tests in oder to make the grade.

"We have been doing rigorous tests on them for the past few years," she said.

"For instance flying them around the world, dropping them from high rise buildings, putting them in an oven at 80 degrees.

"It is the strongest film you can get on the market. Surgeons actually use it in knee surgery."

gel
A helping handful
But with seven out of 10 women wearing the wrong size, not every one believes you need the latest technology.

Bra fitter Diane Belsham said: "If you are in the correct fitting bra, then you will look a hundred times better. Your clothes will hang better, you posture will be better, you'll feel a hundred times better."

However in an industry worth 500m annually, competition is likely to remain fierce.

Wonderbra is already planning to sue the makers of a water bra, saying the similar name has cost it 2m in lost earnings.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Sue Nelson on BBC News
BBC News' Sue Nelson investigates the technology behind the bra
  Sue Nelson reports for BBC News
The BBC's Sue Nelson: Bras have never been so technical
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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