But Make It Accessible: Intimately.co

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If you enjoyed my last inclusive lingerie post, where I interviewed the team behind Elba London, you’ll want to keep reading. Today I’m interviewing Emma Butler, founder of Intimately.co, a US-based web store that curates lingerie where, as they say, fashion meets function. Hi Emma! Tell me a little bit about your business! My lingerie is for everyone – really everyone. Some brands say they are clothes for the everyday woman but still exclude women with disabilities. Intimately.co is focused on including everyone, no matter their size or abilities. We hope to launch our own line within the next year that will fill the gaps in the markets for lingerie that meets the needs of more disabilities. We want everyone to feel sexy in their lingerie, but also comfortable no matter their ability. What’s your background and why did you decide to start Intimately.co? I’ve always been interested in fashion – I grew up watching Project Runway, always sketched, learned to sew, and produced two collections when I got to Brown that walked the school’s runway show. So, I always knew I wanted to do something with apparel design. I didn’t know however that I would spend my time doing adaptive apparel design until I got to college. About ten years ago my mom was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and it affected what she could wear and how she got dressed. After meeting more friends at Brown who had the same condition as my mom and the problem of easy dressing was bigger than her unique story, I realized that I could mix my love for fashion with my love for my mom.  How did you go about choosing your curations for the site? I based the company on two principles: functional and fashionable. Each clothing option I chose needed to be functional for diverse women, not just able-bodied women, and needed to have superb reviews. I don’t want to curate anything unless its the best of the best, The next criterion was whether the garment was fashionable. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful in their clothes. What can we expect to find when we visit Intimately.co? The site is comprised of products from SlickChicks, Elba London, Wings Intimates and Dear Kate. We also have a community section that features stories from women of all backgrounds and abilities. Women can talk about sex, dating, love and fashion— think of it as a more inclusive “Cosmo.” Can you tell me about some of your favourite products that you feature? I personally love the SlickChicks underpants as they are really comfy and easy to get on. A lot of my following uses a wheelchair and so I always get comments about how easy SlickChicks are to get on and how it helps shorten their dressing routine. It’s always great when we don’t have to worry about putting on underwear and can focus on things that empower us and the activities we love to do. I’ve noticed that some of your products don’t have the most inclusive size range – is this something that you’re working on? Yes right now some of the brands we curate do not have the most inclusive sizing, and while we cannot enforce that they create more inclusive sizing we intend to with our own line. When we launch our own line we anticipate having a vast range of sizes and range of skin tone colors for matching bras and underwear.  Do you think there are any barriers to creating more inclusive lingerie designs? If so, what can be done to overcome them? If not, why do you think more mainstream brands aren’t including inclusive design as part of their ranges? One issue that makes it hard for large companies to create inclusive clothing is the manufacturers. Manufacturers have a certain set of systems in place to create clothes that they have been perfecting for the last 100 years and innovative clasps and seam placements haven’t been part of that process.  In addition, it can take a lot of capital to make good adaptive products because these brands would need to allot of R&D in order to create the best adaptive garments, then prototype and iterate and then find the right manufacturer (which could mean changing manufacturers). There are also just prejudices in the fashion world that encourages fashion brands to focus their marketing efforts on thin able-bodied white women. A lot of the brands you feature aren’t necessarily the most accessible price-wise. Is finding cheaper adaptive lingerie a challenge?  It’s absolutely a challenge to find price accessible lingerie. Part of the problem, is when redesigning any type of clothes in a non traditional manner (i.e a bra with front clasps versus traditional bras with back clasps) manufacturing companies raise the price. The way of sewing and molding these products aren’t in the system of these old manufacturers and so they demand for more. Hopefully as adaptive apparel becomes more mainstream, manufacturers will change their old ways of constructing clothes and be open to new ways of assembly, this will lower the price. You don’t have a disability – how will you be working with disabled people throughout this project? Although I’ve started Intimately.co, I realize that it won’t be my place in the long term to run a company like this. I was fortunate enough to have the resources to start Intimately.co, but I hope to grow my team to include all women with disabilities or close ties to someone with a disability. I hope eventually Intimately.co‘s leadership will be made up of a diverse group of women with various disabilities and abilities. Are there any brands out there that you’d love to feature on the site but currently don’t?  I’d love to work with Evelyn & Bobbie, a bra company that has supportive bras from for curvy women while still being sensory friendly and easy to get on. Expanding the size range and color tones of the products we sell is important to me and they do both of those things well. You’re about to launch a […]

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