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Interview with iphiGenia-winner THINX, New York

iphiGenia Gender Design Awardee Evolution

The young company THINX from New York will be awarded with the first international Gender Design Award iphiGenia »Evolution«.

We are keen on learning more about our iphiGenia-nominees work and their idea about gender design. Here are our questions:

What’s the history behind your company?

Thinx, founded in 2013, is a revolutionary period proof underwear company and recognized by Time Magazine as one of the “best 25 inventions” in 2015. The Thinx mission is to revolutionize menstrual hygiene by creating the best and most innovative period solutions; to empower humans and sustain our planet while breaking taboos and changing the conversation around menstruation and reproductive health everywhere.

We make period proof underwear that looks and feels like regular underwear but can be used as a replacement or a back-up to pads or tampons. We have a range of core products in many styles – our most popular are hip hugger, boy short and sport and these come in a range of absorbencies – and can hold up to 2 tampons worth of liquid. Our patented 4-layer technology is moisture wicking, antimicrobial, super absorbent and leak resistant.

Thinx is a feminist company with intersectional values. For those of us with periods, our bodies have long been battlegrounds. THINX is breaking the taboo around menstruation, which means we come up against political issues surrounding women’s health. Equality, inclusivity, and representation are core values at THINX, and we’re wholly committed to standing up for ourselves, our bodies, and others. We’re long overdue for a period revolution, and THINX is leading that charge.

Your slogan claims: »Period panties for modern women«. How would you describe modern women?

Every woman who deals with the complexities of modern life is a modern woman, but the women who stand out for us are those who question the status quo and those who ask if there is a better way – that means questioning human rights policies, government legislation, and taboos around women’s health. Modern women also want modern solutions including products and brands that align with their values and needs.

Why is menstruation still a taboo or kind of negatively connoted?

Woman and girls here in the US and across the world are still uncomfortable with and talking about their bodies, and so are men, politicians, and the media. The taboos around menstruation exist on a spectrum – here in the US, the source might be not enough sex education but in other countries the lack of education is far greater, for instance

  • In 2016, a Nepali girl suffocated to death after she was banished to a small shed while on her period, a common practice in the region
  • In urban India, 43% of girls report using reusable cloth, yet they are often washed without soap or clean water and only 1 out of 2 girls have knowledge about menstruation before their first period

What all of this means is that there’s a lot of work to do in this space, both close to home and abroad.

However, do you think there is a new understanding and new ways of dealing with menstruation in general? Do you think you have contributed to this sensitivity?

Yes, we believe things are changing and for the better. Our products allow you to feel confident and sexy during your period as well as delivering much needed innovation to the category. Our technology in our underwear acts as a replacement or back up to pads and tampons, allowing for more comfort and protection as well as reducing the amount of plastic discarded into the environment.

THINX’s communication approach is both provocative and humorous – why is that?

Our language is provocative because we want people to take notice! We want to have conversations about menstruation so we can normalize it as a natural bodily function for both women and men. For too long it has avoided or unspoken of and we want to change that so that no woman is ashamed of her body. We use humor to engage and to soften the conversation and to appeal to our audience’s sense of fun – although we have a big message to tell it doesn’t all have to be so serious…

What kind of feedback are you getting?

We get so much positive feedback for our customers – like ‘Thinx has changed my life’ or ‘now I’m excited to get my period’, even ‘Thinx is a Lifesaver’ (from a female firefighter who wore our product while on the job). It feels good to hear this as it means we are making a difference in small and big ways every day.

Are there also ugly/sexist comments?

Yes, that comes with the territory, but there will always be that. Our job is to move forward and stay true to our message and our brand.

If so, do men, too, react to your products and your kind of communication?

Yes, men definitely notice us and for the most part, enjoy our messaging and our visual language. Most men are sensible in how they think about our product, they know that it is a better solution and many Dads, boyfriends and husbands buy our product for the girls and women in their lives.

Please tell us about your engagement with the THINX foundation.

We are a mission driven company and our mission is to provide girls in other countries safe places to learn about their bodies and reproductive health. To deepen that commitment, this year we launched THINX Foundation, where our goal is to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with grassroots, local organizations around the world creating a new model for menstrual education.

Thank you THINX, for an innovative and successful enterprise, that already creates better conditions for many real menstruating humans all over the world.

The iphiGenia Gender Design Award will be given to THINX on 12 October 2017 at 7pm at the Cologne Museum of Applied Arts/MAKK.

›› Learn more about the iphiGenia Gender Design Award.


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