Coats

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October 2021

Period-Positive

In a rapidly growing industry, how are businesses helping to keep people active on their periods?

A recent UK study found that one in four people who menstruate drop out of sports in adolescence, citing their periods as a major factor1.

As well as physical symptoms of discomfort, these young people highlighted feelings of fear and shame around their periods, and what will happen if they experience a leak1. Those fears mean that not only are people unable to pursue that sort of active lifestyle, they’re missing out on the personal growth, teamwork and confidence that playing sport can help to foster2. As the information from these reports settles and the world becomes more comfortable talking all things periods, we take a look at how the industry is responding, what the future holds, and how we can help lead with innovation every step of the way.

Big business

Given that they affect around half the global population, it will come as no surprise that active periods are big news, or that that news is becoming big business. From the success of period underwear (a market that’s expected to be worth $1.3 billion by 20263) there’s a growing demand for activewear that keeps women protected, comfortable and confident throughout their periods.4

As the world’s leading industrial thread manufacturer, at Coats, we have a unique vantage point across the industry and can see changes happening already. Starting as a relatively small period-positive marketplace built by businesses like Pantys and Wuka, we’re now seeing big brands rise to the challenge. From Thinx’ collection of shorts, leggings and one-pieces in light to super-absorbent, to Adidas spearheading the movement for large sports brands5. Plus with our own dedicated research and development teams working on industry-leading threads and yarns, the next generation of activewear is looking to help people stay active while they’re on their periods.

Generally, products can be divided into two categories - those designed to be worn with a pad or tampon, and those designed to be worn alone. Most are designed to answer three main concerns: comfort, leakage and hygiene.

Chinese ladies yoga light clothing

Comfort

It’s been proven that people are more sensitive to pain and discomfort while menstruating6, so it’s important that period-positive activewear keeps the wearer as comfortable as possible. This means a range of extremely soft, hygienic and durable fabrics, designed to minimise chafing, rubbing and squashing, especially around seams. Coats Seamsoft Protect was developed with exactly this in mind - the need for a high-performance thread that’s as hard-working as it is easy to wear, and that will work perfectly alongside anti-microbial fabrics. It’s all about creating pieces that stay comfortable through many wears, many washes, and sustained activity, whether that’s a workout or a comfy night on the sofa.

Leakage

Leaking through tampons or pads is one of the things people worry about most when exercising on their period7. The stress of being ‘found out’ is reportedly very high among young people, so it’s important that activewear works to protect the wearer, leaving them to exercise with confidence. The Stay in Play TechFit collection from Adidas uses three layers for protection: a wicking layer, absorbent layer and leak proof layer in a bonding frame that holds everything together, preventing leaks from product movement8. With over 30 years experience producing feminine hygiene solutions, we’re proud to have developed products that really improve the lives of people on their periods, like our durable Coats Epic Liquifense thread which inhibits fluid penetration through sewn seams, giving the wearer flexibility and confidence.

Hygiene

As well as comfort and protection from leakage, it’s important for period-friendly activewear to be both easy to clean and actively work to combat bacteria, leaving items both stain and odour-free. Think antimicrobial fabrics and yarns that prevent the growth of the bacteria that causes odour and permanent marking. Yarns like our CoatsKnit Protect+ have been developed to inhibit the germs and pathogens that can gather in seams, to help keep the wearer feeling fresh.

Active for Life

Today’s activewear does so much for so many. Designed in unisex styles for anybody who menstruates and wants to stay in sport, the field is constantly evolving and iterating, discovering new ways to help its wearers stay active. The industry is leading the charge to stop periods feeling like something that needs to be hidden, and give people the tools they need to keep themselves happy and healthy, in clothes that support them. As brands continue to develop solutions, so our incredible team will keep innovating and pushing the boundaries, finding solutions that help people who menstruate to stay in sport. It’s a bright future and one we’re delighted to be part of.

Asian lady stretching

The view from customers

"I would love the idea of being able to carry on with my normal day-to-day activities, especially being able to workout when I am on my periods. Having the option of period-proof activewear that is comfortable, leak-proof and hygienic and that avoids any odours really is reassuring.

I would definitely love the idea of a softer and maybe period proof activewear garment so I can continue working out on these days and also continue my everyday routines, like the rest of the month."

1. https://www.womeninsport.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PP-Puberty-Research.pdf?x99836
2. https://thesportjournal.org/article/effects-of-early-sport-participation-on-self-esteem-and-happiness/
3. https://www.voguebusiness.com/companies/adidas-says-it-can-period-proof-your-activewear
4. https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/apr/20/womens-sport-1-billion-per-year-by-2030-study-finds
5. https://www.voguebusiness.com/companies/adidas-says-it-can-period-proof-your-activewear
6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504151003.htm
7. https://www.womeninsport.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PP-Puberty-Research.pdf?x99836
8. https://www.standard.co.uk/escapist/adidas-period-proof-leggings-activewear-stay-in-play-b940899.html