Demanding More From our Underwear

At Heist, we speak a lot about the way our designs enable women to move. But this isn’t the only reason we talk about movement.

For us, underwear has social meaning. The way we see it, being constricted (or not) by the clothing we wear next to our skin has a whole lot to do with society’s perception of women.

As women, we know that our clothes, shoes, and makeup raise issues in a way that men’s clothing rarely does. We also know that the female body is still perceived as “belonging” elsewhere, with what we wear often being subject to comment or interpreted as a political statement.

This can be seen everywhere, from the highest political office, to the workplace, and adverts we see day to day. In 2017, the Daily Mail reduced a pivotal meeting between May and Sturgeon to a discussion of their legs. Until they were outed in the press, PWC, one of the world’s top accounting firms, demanded that their receptionists wear heels. And 11 years on from the uproar caused by Dolce and Gabbana’s 2007 advert, brands continue to churn out sexist advertising, with any alternative view of the female body being rejected like the dancer’s back in our tube ad, which was censored by TfL’s ad partner last October.

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In many cases, fashion is a way of reclaiming our power. This week, actors at the Golden Globes knowingly chose black gowns in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and harassment as part of the Time’s Up movement. And activism in fashion has been growing, with women using clothing to express their views, from Dior’s "We are all feminists" SS17 collection, to Semaine producing "The right to open arms" t-shirts in support of Planned Parenthood.

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But, where is underwear in all of this? The items worn closest to the female body are never considered. However, just because they’re hidden, it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter. In fact, the choices we have when it comes to the most intimate items of our clothing still reflect a world where what a woman looks like is more important than who she chooses to be or what she chooses to do.

The underwear industry as it stands tells us that it has already defined what sexy looks like, standardising us into categories: “seductive,” “cute” or “practical”. The industry tells us that looking a certain way is superior to feeling good (or at the very least, feeling comfortable).

The industry ignores that women have multifaceted lives, identities and desires. Yet, we all have to wear underwear. And when we stop and think about it, we know that we’re stuck with underwear inadequate to our time. What’s available to us — from shapewear to bras — is simply not good enough.

So, for Heist, underwear is about far more than “looking sexy” or “being practical”. We believe that radical innovation in underwear design can ensure that every woman, every day, is living in underwear that allows her to move exactly as she chooses.

This is our movement.

2018, watch this space.

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