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Leading Absorbent Underwear Company Confitex Calls For Regulation To Protect Consumers

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We talked to Confitex Founder and Design Director Frantisek Riha-Scott about how innovations in textile technology are changing lives and helping save the planet.

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Confitex?

A: Confitex is a textile innovation company that designs and manufactures environmentally friendly period- proof panties, incontinence underwear and nursing pads. The concept for absorbent underwear was prompted when I started to ponder what to do about answering the ‘call of nature’ during endurance skiing competitions.

The only absorbent underwear available at that time looked like nappies – but with my background in fashion design and microscopic textile technology I knew I could do better!

After two years of research and development, we created and patented Confitex’s unique PU plastic- free absorbent textile technology, which we now use in our own brands, Confitex for Men and Just’nCase by Confitex, and in private label manufacturing for large retail brands. Independent lab testing has shown that our products offer the best combination of superior absorbency and leakproof performance of any reusable brand on the market.

Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?

A: Since Confitex launched its first range at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2015, making international headlines as the world’s first fashionable range of incontinence underwear, the market for absorbent apparel has accelerated to the point that high-profile brands such as Adidas, Bonds, Kimberly-Clark and Victoria’s Secret have released ranges. Period underwear, in particular, has caught the imagination of women looking for a non-invasive, eco-friendly method of managing menstruation.

As early innovators in this new category, we’re excited to see increasing consumer acceptance of absorbent apparel, which is greatly reducing the number of single-use products entering landfill or, even worse, ending up in our oceans.

However, we are concerned that many of the new brands emerging in this unregulated market are making unverified claims regarding the amount their products can absorb without leaking, leading consumers to lose confidence in the idea of menstrual underwear. It’s literally the wild west, in that brands can claim any level of absorbency without needing to provide any evidence.

That’s why Confitex has added its voice to calls for regulation for the protection of consumers. In particular, we back the call for companies to be required to seek third-party verification for their marketing claims, and publish the results openly so customers can make an informed choice.

We are already walking the talk in this area, having invested in extensive independent laboratory testing for our ranges. As a result, global safety science leader UL has granted Confitex for Men trunks and Just’nCase women’s briefs coveted UL Verification Marks authenticating our claims regarding leakproof performance, total absorbency, absorbency speed, air permeability, odor resistance, absence of PFOA/PFOS, and continued performance after 52 washes. These verifications are publicly available We encourage other brands to utilise UL’s testing and verification services designed exclusively for the absorbent apparel industry.

In a further effort to over-deliver for our customers we have chosen to advertise 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 we only advertise their absorbency as 10 regular tampons. This means you can really have confidence in our claims.

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Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?

A: Although period panties tend to receive the most media attention, we are also noticing growth in the number of customers seeking out our absorbent underwear as protection against light-to-medium bladder leakage. Given that one in three women and one in five men experience little wee leaks, and this is becoming more common as populations age, we believe this sector has huge potential for growth. Every day we hear from men and women who tell us our comfortable, discreet and highly absorbent underwear have restored their confidence and changed their lives.

Similarly, our superabsorbent reusable nursing pads have won the praise of breastfeeding mothers since we launched them last year, with many women saying the first night they wore them was the first time they had slept through the night without waking up soaked in breastmilk.

Q: What can we expect from your company in the next six months? What are your plans?

A: We have a continuous programme of new product development, underpinned by extensive consumer research and testing. We are different from most other brands in that we manufacture our products in our own factory to high ethical and sustainability standards, rather than outsourcing production. Our current focus is on opportunities for sharing our market-leading textile technology with large-scale retail partners seeking to add a superior, validated, sustainable product to their private label portfolio.

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Q: What is the best thing about your company that people might not know about?

A: Reusable absorbent products are an increasingly popular option for people wanting to quit single-use paper and plastic products to reduce their impact on the environment. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that most brands of fabric period panties and incontinence underwear contain a layer of PU plastic hidden within the gusset to prevent leaks.

What’s unique about Confitex’s patented technology is that our waterproof layer is textile-based, rather than plastic-based. In textile terms this is an innovation equivalent to the invention of the electric car, meaning that ours is the first and only 100 per cent waterproof, 100 per cent PU plastic-free patented textile technology.

As well as being better for the environment this means it can be both heat-sealed and stitched through, giving our superabsorbent underwear and nursing pads superior leakproof performance when compared to those with a layer of plastic, which shrinks and distorts when heated and leaks when punctured. And for the consumer, it means our products can safely be thrown in the tumble dryer without compromising their performance – a bonus in today’s busy world!

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