Period Underwear for Our Planet and All People: Aisle International
The launch of Aisle underwear in March 2020 exceeded the team’s expectations: so much so that one of their biggest challenges was keeping particularly in-demand styles and sizes in stock. By replacing conventional period products which are made largely from wood pulp and plastic with a new line of stylish, sustainable period underwear, thoughtfully designed with inclusivity in mind, Aisle shows how green is good for all kinds of bottom lines.
In Brief, but also in Bikini, Hipster, Boxer Brief and Thong, in 2018 Aisle set out to launch the most sustainable and socially inclusive line of period underwear on the planet.
Understanding that disposable pads and tampons, while convenient and effective, are environmentally unsustainable, and that increasingly young people are embracing reusables in all parts of life, including their period, Aisle saw both an opportunity, and an opportunity to do good.
Conventional period products are made largely from wood pulp and plastic which take hundreds of years to decompose. Aisle aimed to design a sustainable line of period underwear that could not only replace disposables, but outperform them.
Taking their existing knowledge, Aisle updated the aesthetics and functional design of the garments to create a more modern cut and built a consistent visual brand through colours, trims and finishings.
It was important to ensure that Aisle’s fabrics exceeded safety standards, were high performance, and sustainably sourced. Aisle engaged a textile development agency with expertise in manufacturing and developing products to meet the team’s specific needs. Achieving specific performance qualities without using added chemical finishings was crucial. Ultimately their specially designed trademarked textile TrueTex™––which doubled absorbency from the equivalent two tampons to four tampons––fit the bill. On top of this, using recycled polyester instead of virgin polyester sourced from petroleum, means Aisle has been able to divert over 3000 pounds of post-consumer plastic from entering landfills.
Aisle implemented a vendor code of conduct ensuring equitable labour standards for manufacturers, with members of the Aisle team visited the manufacturing sites in Shanghai (China), Phnom Phen (Cambodia) and Taipei (Taiwan) to inspect the sites, confirm the adequacy of their social and environmental policies and explore opportunities for further innovation. And of course all the materials used have up-to-date third-party certification.
On the sales side, Aisle’s digital shopping experience allows them to educate and inform consumers on the performance and impact of the product in greater depth than is possible in a traditional retail environment. A questionnaire helps customers pick out the best products for them. A customer support team provides further information and direct support as needed and all that is working.
The launch of Aisle underwear in March 2020 exceeded the team’s expectations: so much so that one of their biggest challenges was keeping particularly in-demand styles and sizes in stock.
Inclusivity was a core objective at Aisle from the start, meaning that they wanted to meet the needs of traditionally underrepresented segments like plus-sized folks and people on the gender spectrum.
Proving this instinct right, as well as decent, the plus sizes were amongst the first to sell out and their Boxer brief, designed with transmasculine menstruators in mind, was the first to sell out in its full size range.
As a B Corp, Aisle feels that being transparent about their sustainability is imperative. For a greener future we need to reduce, reuse and quantify. Demonstrating a measurable impact drives customer trust, adoption and satisfaction, which encourages customers to make eco-friendly choices. Also in leading by example, and showing their work, Aisle inspires other businesses to embrace sustainable choices in their own practices, just as they have learned best practices from their peers.
Aisle has also worked to support communities with free products to make them accessible to low-income folks, especially during a pandemic. Their goal is to produce positive outcomes for their business, their customers, their community and the planet and that’s got people dancing in their Aisles.