Leading absorbent textile technology company Confitex is calling for consumer protection in the emerging period-proof underwear market. Since 2015, when Confitex came out with the world's first fashionable range of absorbent underwear, many more brands and manufacturers have entered the market. The sector is seeing inflated, unsubstantiated claims.
The absorbent apparel sector is now at a tipping point, with high-profile brands such as Adidas, Bonds and Victoria's Secret recognising its potential and entering the market.
Period panties are fabric underwear with a built-in absorbent gusset, worn either as a backup to a tampon or menstrual cup, or alone as a non-invasive, eco-friendly method of managing menstruation. It's estimated that the category is already preventing hundreds of thousands of plastic-laden single-use pads, liners and tampons from reaching landfill each year.
But in an unregulated sector characterised by inflated and unsubstantiated claims about absorbency and leak resistance, consumers are often confused and disappointed when the 'leakproof' underwear they've bought doesn't live up to its promises.
CEO Christine Arden says Confitex is committed to building consumer confidence in menstrual underwear and providing transparency and guidance. "We believe in the environmental benefits of period pants and we want the sector to succeed – but we're concerned that the failure of some brands to deliver on their promises will dent the credibility of the entire category," she says. "It's literally the wild west, in that anyone can claim anything.”
"A number of industry players have suggested the sector requires regulation for the protection of consumers. In particular, we back the call for companies to seek third-party verification for their marketing claims – and publish the results openly so consumers can make an informed choice," Arden adds.
When Confitex launched its second-generation range, which includes washable incontinence underwear from the Confitex for Men label, and women's period panties, bladder leak underwear and reusable nursing pads under the Just'nCase brand, the company invested in independently validating the performance of its patented textile technology.
Following extensive laboratory testing, global safety science leader UL granted Confitex for Men trunks and Just'nCase high-cut, lace and full briefs coveted UL Verification Marks authenticating the company's claims in these parameters such as leakproof, total absorbency, absorbency speed, air permeable, odour resistance, no PFOA/PFOS detected, and maintains absorption, odour resistance, leakproof and air permeability performance after 52 washes.
Confitex took a further step in assuring customer satisfaction by choosing to claim a level of absorbency below that allowed by the verified results. "For example, our Extra Absorbency women's briefs have been lab-verified to absorb the equivalent of 15 regular tampons but because we want to over-deliver to our customers in real-life situations, we only advertise their absorbency as 10 regular tampons," says Arden.
Confitex also commissioned independent testing to ascertain the true performance of other popular absorbent apparel brands. Conducted between January and April 2020, this testing conclusively demonstrated that Confitex's textile technology offered the best combination of absorbency and leakproof performance of any product on the market.
This market superiority was reinforced when Confitex's textile technology was named 2021 Product of the Year in the international Plus X Awards, the world's largest award programme for innovation in technology, sports and lifestyle. Confitex also received six out of seven possible seals for innovation, high quality, ease of use, functionality, ergonomics and ecology in the health and personal care category.
Unlike most other brands, Confitex's leakproof absorbent textile is made without a layer of PU plastic, which not only makes it more eco-friendly, but also means it can be moulded, shaped, stitched, heat sealed and tumble dried without affecting its leakproof performance.
UL's vice president and general manager for retail and consumer products, Doug Lockard, supports the call for transparency of product claims. "In any new sector, third-party verification of product claims is important for consumers, giving assurance that the products will perform as promised. Customers rely on packaging, labelling and marketing claims as part of their decision-making process. To create brand trust, it is key that products are tested to verify a manufacturer's marketing claims."
Lockard encourages other period pants brands to utilise UL's testing and verification services designed exclusively for the absorbent apparel industry. "We recommend that products in this sector be lab-tested by a reputable standards company with the results published openly for full transparency."
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)