In partnership with the global athletic wear brand Champion®, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Museum is excited to announce a brand-new exhibit, “Champions of Innovation.”
“Champion stands for inclusion in sports,” said Maria Teza, senior vice president of Champion North America, in an interview with NIHF. “We’re proud to partner with the National Inventors Hall of Fame to honor women in sports and from all walks of life who exemplify an entrepreneurial spirit, and the heart of a champion.”
Honoring Creators and Innovators
To tell the story of the sports bra, which has contributed to equity, health and quality of life for women and girls worldwide, this exhibit highlights its inventors and features artifacts that show its evolution.
One of the artifacts is a prototype replica of the original Jogbra, which was constructed out of two jockstraps. In 1977, when Lindahl had the idea of creating a more supportive bra for greater comfort while she ran, she teamed up with Smith, who sewed the original prototype.
The sports bra was patented in 1979. Miller and Lindahl commercialized the invention as the Jogbra and co-founded their company, Jogbra Inc., which was later renamed JBI.
The Jogbra launched a multi-billion-dollar industry. Playtex Apparel bought JBI Inc. in 1990, and in 1991, Sara Lee — the owner of Champion Products Inc.— bought Playtex and formed the Champion Jogbra division.
“We’re proud to honor the inventors of the Jogbra,” said Teza. “Their groundbreaking innovation not only removed a barrier to women’s participation in athletics, it also propelled an advancement and commitment to women’s health and their place in the sports industry.”
A wall-sized timeline spanning the Champion brand’s history and women’s history in the United States, from 1809 to the present, shows how the brand has continued to raise the bar in comfort, style and innovation. This is further illustrated by another artifact featured in the exhibit: Champion’s Absolute Eco Sports Bra, which includes the latest fabric technologies and is made using mostly recycled materials.
Another key feature of the “Champions of Innovation” exhibit is a panel honoring women in diverse fields who have persevered by meeting challenges with integrity. These icons include Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics; Junko Tabei, the first woman to summit Mount Everest; and Sonia Sotomayor, the third woman and first Hispanic justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Inspiring the Next Makers of Change
With an interactive “Create-a-Champion” experience, this exhibit challenges everyone to be an innovator.
Visitors are invited to swap out pieces of Champion fabric to make their own designs, pair them with a number of inspiring qualities, and then share their creations on social media using #createachampion.
Here at NIHF, we understand that by showing the relationship between design and innovation, we can guide more children to identify as inventors and entrepreneurs. This is central to Camp Invention® and all NIHF education programs, which are designed to promote confidence and creativity through hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and invention.
In our research, we’ve found that while girls are less likely than boys to correlate STEM and their identity as an inventive person, they might approach invention from another perspective, such as design or creativity.
By offering a hands-on design opportunity as part of this new exhibit, NIHF intends to inspire every visitor to recognize their own potential to be an innovative champion.
Learn More About the NIHF Museum
To learn more about our National Monument to Innovation® and how it ignites an innovative spark in all visitors, we invite you to visit our website!