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FemTech and the evolution of period products

Digi x Refinery29 on the recent boom of period-ready sportswear


Banner and Thumbnail:  @meg.boggs and @modibodi on TikTok

We spoke to Refinery29 about the innovation over the years when it comes to period products such as the rise of ‘period-proof’ underwear, democratisation of menstruation knowledge on socials, and now major sportswear brands such as Puma and Nike taking the plunge. Read on for more!

R29Have you seen an increase in period ready sportswear?

Digi: In the mid-2010s at the peak of the ‘period revolution’ we saw a boom in period activism and innovation, investment in FemTech startups was at an all time high, injecting much needed funds into a category that had seen little innovation for decades. Since then there’s been a decline in innovative period products, until recently where we’ve seen major sports brands like PumaNike and Adidas all release ‘period-proof’ activewear.

R29What do you think has triggered this increase?

Digi: From a product perspective, ‘period-proof’ underwear and clothing has been pioneered by smaller start-up brands — a material innovation that the big sportswear brands would have been closely watching to develop their own technology in order to stay competitive in the market.

From a cultural perspective, platforms like TikTok have democratised menstrual information —  a subject that has been historically under researched, now experts are able share information that empowers people with periods to better understand their bodies through practices such as ‘cycle-syncing’, leading to an increased need for functional period-proof activewear. 

R29As there has been a need for this for a long time, why do you think this is only a recent addition?

Digi: Whilst there has been progress over recent years, unfortunately there is still a lot of stigma attached to periods. Even in medical settings, issues pertaining to women's health are hugely underfunded and under researched, so in corporate settings where most investors or directors are men it can take some time to push these products through. 

Read the full article by Sadhbh O'Sullivan here.

✨ Contributing Fairies

  • Deanna Middleton, Design Strategist