How Thinx Balances Sexy And Practical For True Innovation In Women’s Underwear

When your current choices are hot thongs or embarrassing granny panties, there’s room for innovation. The founders of Thinx reveal their approach, and why your underthings have an important social mission.

The women’s underwear space is not one that is routinely or brazenly disrupted. We have yet to see a Wonder Bra 2.0, and the story of derriere compression and uplifting begins and ends with Spanx and now-billionaire founder Sara Blakely.


Which isn’t to say there aren’t needs or wants to be met beyond the aesthetic concerns of chest- and bottom-boosting. That’s where entrepreneurs Miki Agrawal, Antonia Dunbar, and Radha Agrawal, the cofounders of Thinx, have something a little more practical (if all the more taboo) in mind.

The trio were on a trip in India when they started discussing the design failures of women’s underthings–either they’re too pretty to be functional all month long, or they’re of the stodgy cotton variety that you never really want to wear. Then their thinking went to women around the world, 67 million of whom can’t afford or find the disposable products necessary each month, and as a result often miss work or school. Might these two problems have a common solution?

Not yet, as it turned out–and so they created Thinx, “high-performance” yet pretty underwear that’s leak resistant and easily washable. They paired this idea for developed countries with a “one-for-one” Tom’s type model through a partnership with AFRIpads, a Uganda-based organization that creates washable, re-usable cloth pads for women in developing countries so that they can continue school or work on pace with male peers.

To get up and running, Thinx raised over $64,000–130% of its Kickstarter goal. Who would’ve thought that a pair of underwear could solve so many big problems?

Which is not to say that small trials didn’t crop up along the way–marketing around a normally hush-hush topic being one of them.

“Trying to come up with the Kickstarter video itself was just comedy. We came up with so many different angles to tell the story, whether it was reenacting embarrassing moments or making emotional pleas on camera about what it means to empower women,” says Radha Agrawal. “And then we were like, be ourselves and tell our stories, and we really found our voice in the process.”


As the video shows, they managed to pull it off–beautifully.

Bottom Line: You can have fun, even (or especially) with taboo topics.

(Producer: Shalini Sharma // Video/Editor: Tony Ditata // Location: The Yard in Brooklyn)

[Image: Flickr user Kate Sumbler]

About the author

Erin Schulte is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Fast Company, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Entrepreneur, among other publications. You can find her on Twitter @erin719nyc.