In a society where our entrepreneurial endeavors often lean toward sophisticated technologies, its a wonderful thing to see something new thats dedicated to the basics-- like the most basic of them all, underwear. Familiar? Ya, you are. And while we're all walking around, every day, just wearing this stuff- we know we're not alone in saying, these things aren't great. Whether you're feeling "meh" about lingerie advertising, dealing with an excess of material in the back (editor's question: how does a girl with hips to sink the ships end up with that weird flap of material? HOW?) or your just reaching a breaking point with the unethical production standards of clothing today- you know that this is an industry that is ripe for disruption.
Enter Trace, a thoughtful, comfortable, and affordable lingerie line that launched it's Kickstarter campaign this week. Founders, Alexsis and Jasmine, had a chat with us about the launch of their campaign and their mission to create a line of undies (and hopefully more soon!) that has everyone covered.
Where does the name Trace come from?
Jasmine: Origins of Trace are murky, but we were brainstorming one day and we liked how it sounded. We didn't want anything too feminine or hip or young sounding. We wanted a broad appeal, a place we could imagine hearing our moms talk about as well as our best friends. But as time goes on, I really like the word's connection to art, drawing and sketching the shape of the human body. Because that's what this is about, representing all human bodies.
Alexsis: Our big thing is that we want to take our customers seriously, respect them as adults and expand the group of people that the lingerie industry claims as women. After some toying around with the word it also occurred to me that we wanted to provide women with clothing that fit their bodies, not for them to change their bodies to fit our clothes. So we jumped off with an idea of tracing a woman's body first, and using that pattern to make something specifically for her, not making the product first and having the woman who wears it come second.
Trace founders (l-r) Alexsis and Jasmine
What type of product are you planning to roll out first if the campaign is a success?
Jasmine: One bikini, one thong, black stretch cotton. No tight elastic bands and no lines. Expansion to other types of underwear and bras (without padding!) and broader customer base
Alexsis: We'd also love to expand out reach into trans* specific designs in the future, but for now we have to keep it simple and secure funding. Right now our main focus is getting the sizing and patters right and paying attention to the bodies of women of all sizes. We want to guarantee that every pair of underwear is incredibly comfortable and that's going to take time.
Right out of the gate, you guys have established that there is a motivation behind creating this line that goes beyond "we want to make great underwear." Can you explain the social and cultural motivation behind Trace?
Jasmine: Women are not treated well by big retailers and even the fact that you have to make a choice between affordability and being treated like an adult is insulting. We hate the marketing most retailers employ and our design tastes take us toward high-end retailers, which is obviously not a realistic option. You should be able to shop comfortably for the clothes you wear every day and support the work of the people who make what you use.
Alexsis: Most people wear underwear all day, or at least most of the day. When I googled it earlier today, the worlds population came up at a little over 7 billion. Close to half of those people are women-- and you know how many of those women look like victoria secret models, a tiny number. What about everyone else? What about the rest of us? Our biggest commitment is to respecting women in the entirety of the production process. We want to make design, make, ship, and sell underwear without exploiting a SINGLE woman. That means sourcing our materials ethically, paying women fair wages to produce them, and respecting the women we market and sell to by listening to what they say and using models and drawings. that reflect the full spectrum of self-identified women.
You also have also committed to using fair labor facilities and processes in the production of your underwear. Why is this also important to you?
Jasmine: As feminists and as two women making underwear for all women, it just does not align with our politics or company mission to exploit labor (usually female labor in the case of garment production). People should be paid a living wage and people should know where their goods come from and feel good about it.
Why did you opt for a crowd funding platform like Kickstarter to launch your company?
Alexsis: We feel like Kickstarter is the best place to start because we are genuinely interested in feedback and involvement from our investors. You can't make a lingerie line for ALL women based on the opinion of a select few. As far as we are concerned, Trace is about underwear, but it's also a political statement and we want as many people as possible involved. The more women who stand up and say they are unhappy with the current market, the more likely change is.
Jasmine: We feel like this frustration has been faced by most women (or atleast the ones we've spoken to) and Kickstarter is great because it gives you a level of participation beyond just donating. This is a conversation that goes beyond underwear, and changing the marketplace and putting your voice out there to support someone changing the marketplace is important to get more people talking about issues of sexism, sizeism, ageism, and racism that permeate our consumer culture. We want to connect with the people buying our underwear and Kickstarter is such a great community.
For many women the undergarment battle begins at sizing. Does Trace approach sizing in a different way than most lingerie or intimate apparel companies?
Alexsis: We're working on polling as many women as we can about their complaints with current cuts and sizing in underwear. The first step is acknowledging that there are so many different types of bodies out there, the second step is respecting people enough to ask what they want rather than make assumptions. The third step will then be for us to take all of this information to our pattern makers once the Kickstarter campaign is done and work with them to translate that into underwear that isn't just sized up from a XS sample size, but accommodates for differences in how a person's body might move differently depending on their size.
Check out their Kickstarter campaign here and be sure to watch the video, too-- you'll wish being their bestie was offered as a Pledge Reward. Believe in their mission? Then let's fund this worthwhile endeavor! Women! Underwear! Investing!