Fashion student takes her environmentally friendly period-proof lingerie to the London catwalk

Sexy and stylish period-proof lingerie that can be washed and worn again and again has been unveiled by a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student on the London catwalk.

HICKEY group shot

Sian with models wearing her collection 

The lingerie collection was designed by DMU Contour Fashion student Sian Hickey, to eliminate the need for tampons and sanitary towels, which are a major source of plastic pollution.

Sian believes her pieces can provide a clean, comfortable and stylish alternative that is good for the environment.

The lingerie was debuted at the annual DMU Contour Fashion Catwalk Show in the opulent surroundings of Freemason’s Hall, Covent Garden, in front of some of the industry’s biggest names.

Sian said: “I think being able to wear beautiful underwear while on your period can actually help to boost self-esteem and make you appreciate your body and the amazing things it can do!”


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Sian's designs hit the catwalk

The four-layer technology embedded into the gusset – which includes anti-microbial cotton - absorbs up to four tampons-worth of menstrual blood.

The knicker material was analysed in the university’s textile testing lab using artificial blood normally associated with medical and forensics students. The material was then run through machine washes at 30C and 70C to test for hygiene.

Sian says the period-proof lingerie can be washed safely at 30C and worn again and again during a lifespan of up to 18 months.

Period-proof underwear is not new but Sian says current designs are unsexy and look like ‘Bridget Jones’ big pants’. She also hopes her designs will get people talking more about menstruation and alternatives to traditional sanitary products.

HICKEY catwalk two

Sian said: “Approximately 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet in the UK every single day.

“Even if period waste is disposed of correctly, using bins rather than flushing, plastic wrappers and applicators do not biodegrade and therefore sit in landfill for centuries. Something needs to change.”

So will women wear period-proof lingerie?

Sian said: “The reaction has been good. Once you explain how my designs work, and how they do not feel different to regular lingerie, people see round the issue of absorbent knickers. People are definitely listening.

“Once you explain how the underwear works and how they are comfortable and just as hygienic as disposable sanitary products people see round the issue of absorbent knickers.

HICKEY catwalk three

“Periods and reusable sanitary products are not talked about enough. There are sustainable alternatives and women need to know about them.

“Taking my designs into production has been talked about a lot and I do want to do this but I think I would benefit from a bit more experience in the industry before I go out on my own.”

Sian has set up a GoFundMe page to also raise awareness of period poverty. She is asking for donations to help Freedom4Girls.

HICKEY catwalk four

The UK charity does not just offer disposable products, but also environmentally friendly, washable reusables and menstrual cups. Girls all over the world miss school and work because of the stigma and taboo associated with their periods or the lack of money to pay for sanitary products.

You can donate to Sian's GoFundMe page here 

HICKEY blood test

Sian carries out a test at DMU textile labs using artificial blood

Each year, final year Contour Fashion students, who learn to design ‘intimate apparel’ such as lingerie, swimwear, sportswear and sleepwear, get to show their collections to an audience of leaders from some of the UK’s biggest fashion brands.

Attendees at this year’s show included H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, Nichole de Carle, Coco De Mer, Gymshark, Boux Avenue, Figleaves, Next, F&F, Pistol Panties and Naturana.

Posted on Tuesday 11 June 2019

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