Hey Groupthink. I've been working on a project for a while that I've mentioned a couple of times here. Well it finally launched this morning and I wanted to share it with you all.
Let’s talk about underwear. Skivvies. Knickers. They are always there, hanging out under our clothes, yet most of us pay very little attention to them. There is a cycle of generic fashion critiques that comes around once in a blue moon to talk about sizism, racism, and unequal representation, but since we wear underwear every day, it’s really hard to stop putting on your problematic panties and start an underwear protest. Earlier this year a good friend and I decided there was no real reason for why we actively chose the underwear we bought. We just picked them out of a bin because that was what was available to us. We dealt with advertising and marketing that told us we needed to be small, feminine, and light skinned to wear underwear because we had no other options. I imagine if most women stopped and really thought about their underwear – where it came from, how much it cost them, what the models in the stores and in the ads looked like – they would find that they’re dissatisfied with at least one aspect of the marketplace. Although no one has time to think about their underwear every second of every day (let's be real y'all, I spend a lot of time thinking about Sour Patch Kids), it’s worth it once in a while. Because underwear isn't just underwear— who we chose to buy from and how we demand underwear companies treat us and depict us can reflect issues much bigger than any one individual.
Let’s do a rundown of the current underwear shopping experience: If a woman is lucky she can skip the big super centers that carry plastic packs of underwear and shop at her choice of several department stores. If that same woman wants the largest selection possible, she’ll need to be between a size xs and a large and be able to afford prices of $8 and up for a single pair. If she wants to see herself reflected in the company she gives her money to, the qualifications are even stricter: she’ll need to look like a supermodel before she gets the chance to see her undies displayed on an average-sized body. She also needs to love glitter, rhinestones, and sexual innuendo. Oh, and don’t forget neon. Separately each of these shopping restrictions can be a huge pain in the ass—but when they are all compiled together (as they are now in the current market) it makes the average underwear shopping experience more than difficult, it makes it unpleasant. That’s ridiculous. Everyone wears underwear. Everyone. But right now the lingerie industry markets to a select few and it’s way past time for that to change.
Recently, I polled my friends and family about underwear shopping. Regardless of their clothing size or age, their answers were all the same: shopping for underwear and bras is almost always an ordeal and it makes you feel like crap. If you are gender queer or a size outside of the range from “extra small” to “large,” it can feel like you are invisible—and that’s where the company I started with my friend Jasmine comes in. More than any fashion motivation (don’t get me wrong, fashion is my thing) the biggest inspiration for revolutionizing the lingerie industry for Jasmine and me comes from something we were both lucky enough to be told over and over growing up: every self-identified woman deserves to feel comfortable, look good, be respected by the people who are marketing to them, and not pay an arm and a leg to do it. The dollars of the non-supermodels of the world are worth every bit as much as any other dollar and we deserve a place to shop that respects us and will go the extra mile to treat us like the legitimate people we are. In an ideal world, I could go underwear shopping with my mother and my grandmother and we could each buy something at the same place that felt right, fit right, was inexpensive, and didn’t exploit any woman in the manufacturing process. In my perfect world no one would be forced to buy plastic bagged “granny panties” (no judgment!) or fluorescent boy shorts if those weren’t the things they really wanted.
This morning I took thinking about our underwear a step further and launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new line that is committed to accessibility and widespread representation on all fronts. Trace (the project title) holds itself to the standard of making underwear for any person who identifies as a woman—all for prices that are competitive with the big players in the underwear industry. I'm hoping this Kickstarter will get us started on a company that offers wider options to everyone, and though it will take a while for it to get there, I'm so very excited to get started.
If you want, you can pledge to help us through our Kickstarter campaign or not (don’t get me wrong, we’d love any support we can get) but the most important thing I want to share with everyone is a reminder that we don’t have to accept things just because they’re the only options available. It’s okay to expect more from your underwear. Hopefully, Trace can give you the “more” that you’re looking for.
If you want to share this post with friends, I'll be forever indebted. If you feel like you have some pocket change you want to contribute visit out Kickstarter page or our website. If you've got no moolah but want to support the cause follow us on Facebook or Twitter.