As a self-proclaimed sustainability-junkie, the most eco-friendly thing about my lingerie drawer is that some of the bras in it have been with me for, uh, two decades (gross, I know!). My environmental footprint is lower when I purchase secondhand clothing, but I had never thought to consider my intimate apparel purchases until recently. My not-so-plant-based bras were not a big deal until a pitch for the world’s first plant-based bra came across my desk-accompanied by some not-so-great data on how they impact the environment.
Gelmart International, which created Kindly Yours and recently launched it at Walmart, sent the pitch. Intimate apparel is not the only area where sustainability has been attempted, but this is the first company to do it on such a large scale, and with accessibility at the core of its ethos.
Yossi Nasser, CEO of Gelmart International, points out that most efforts to innovate around sustainability begin at the upper echelons of the market. Though the addition of eco-friendly options to the industry is progress in any capacity, Nasser explains that these eco brands tend to be too small to bring about real change. Whenever a new innovation is introduced to the market, it usually starts at the top, where the volume and impact are the least, and then it trickles down to the masses. It puts pressure on suppliers and the rest of the industry to follow suit because [a large manufacturer] started from the bottom up.”
Sustainable efforts at the top of the pyramid are often too expensive for many consumers, simply because the products are made in smaller batches and therefore more expensive. Nasser says that the brand’s partnership with Walmart has allowed them to secure discounts throughout the supply chain due to the volume they are producing to fill the retailer’s many, many stores.This isn’t the cheapest bra available, but it’s the most disruptive bra of its kind that we’ve seen so far, says Moore. (Most Kindly Yours bras are under $14.)
Although Kindly Yours bras haven’t healed every sustainability issue entirely, they’ve taken the step to solve the least eco-friendly aspect of the bra: Many bra cups are made from foam, which isn’t biodegradable. Gelmart have developed bra cups instead of sugarcane made from trial and error, and these can be found in the styles offered by Kindly Yours. In order to further reduce Kindly Yours’ environmental impact, the rest of the bra is made using recycled materials.
“This has been the most challenging project I have worked on in my 40-plus years in the industry,” says Eve Bastug, chief product officer for Gelmart International. Over 80 percent of this cup is made from plant-based ingredients and it took us three years to get there. We still have a lot of work to do, but our experienced team is pursuing the vision of creating beautiful, environmentally-friendly, comfortable products that people will want to wear.”
The no. 1 challenge in the intimate apparel market is sustainability, as Nasser admits as much. In addition to deforestation, sugarcane harvesting also causes environmental problems. But Kindly Yours’ sugarcane is sourced through the Braskem Responsible Ethanol Sourcing program, meaning it meets certain eco standards. Although Nasser believes their current product is a sustainable alternative to mainstream options, Nasser says they’ll continue to develop the product going forward.
All of this sounds pretty cool, right? I’ll be reviewing Kindly Yours’ new line of plant-based bras to see how they compare to regular ones.
Trying a mass-produced plant-based bra-here’s my review
Initial Kindly Yours offerings aren’t the kind of lacey attire you’d wear on an anniversary; instead, Gelmart International’s CMO, Caroline Limpert, says the company’s design focus is on comfort for everyday wear. The brand currently offers a wireless T-shirt bra, a V-neck bralette, and an X-back bralette with no seams. Colorways are offered for each pair, ranging from 34A to 40DD, with an additional size to be released later in the year.
It is with great trepidation that I admit I was dubious before receiving the sample before the launch. As I mentioned, bra fit is so individual that I’m still wearing bras from my teenage years-I’m just too attached to the fit and feel!
The only time I’ve removed my Kindly Yours bra is to wash it begrudgingly ever since it arrived. My chest feels much more defined and comfortable, and it’s also more comfortable than I could have hoped. (The girls are held up high and tight by the bag.)
My old bras aren’t going to be replaced with this one just yet, not because it’s inferior, but because I don’t want them thrown away. In the future, however, if I need to buy a new everyday bra, I doubt I’d choose anything else based on price point, fit, aesthetic under clothing, and sustainable materials, of course.
I’m looking forward to watching the brand continue to innovate because they don’t intend to rest on their laurels after just cracking the cup code to this extent. In addition to setting the example for the rest of the industry, the brand is motivated to continue breaking new ground in order to offer consumers options they can feel comfortable buying. Also on the Kindly Yours radar are loungewear, activewear, and basics, which are the items women wear most.
According to Limpert, Kindly Yours is about being kind to your wallet, kind to your body, and kind to the environment. We are just getting started with [these initial launches].”
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