Are periods really fun? Of course not! And, to add to the discomfort, we all go through period accidents…from leaking pads to over-filled dangling tampons, we’ve experienced it all. The average menstruation span is roughly 40 years per person (11-51) they say. And, we tackle these like mini warriors; only this is not the battle of the sexes but with one’s own biological phase that is unavoidable. Any person who’s had a period knows that even thorough preparation doesn’t guarantee a life without leaks or stains or slips. In fact, to deal with it, many women even have ‘period underwear’, which was very basic a few years ago to say the least. But in the last few years several new companies have cropped up, offering underwear to help hold pads, wick moisture, and even replace tampons. Here’s an insight into this emerging and possibly fast-growing segment in women’s panties.
What is a period panty?
So, in case you’re wondering what exactly are period panties and when did they come to the fore on the lingeriescape, here’s the lowdown. There are two kinds of sanitary panties—one kind are those that help keeps pads in place, which means they work more as a physical aid. The second ones are those that are made of special materials that help to stave off leakage and help absorb. These kinds can be used for lighter days and can even be used in place of pads or tampons during such times. However, all this depends on an individual’s vaginal moisture levels and how heavy the flow is. Basically, sanitary panties have an inner lining, which helps keep away staining and leakage at the same time offering comfort to the wearer.
“Period panties were introduced in the market to address the problem of leakage during periods. Excess flow led to rashes and stains on outerwear, which is a problem. Period panties come with a waterproof layer, which is generally a form of plastic lamination near the crotch area, which prevents leak on the outer garments,” says Mr Monal Vora, Red Rose.
Ms Deepa Kumar, founder and CEO, Adira says, “Period Panties are used during periods to prevent stains. They are used with pads or any other hygiene product.
While the hygiene products absorb the flow, the period panties hold the pad in place and even if there are any stains due to overflow or crumpling and shifting, the period panties prevent it from staining the outerwear.”
Mr Sunil Nasra, Proprietor, Shree Santoshi Agencies tells us, “They are extremely useful during periods. We’ve been making these panties since around 20 years. Earlier the product was very basic with inner elastic but through the years, the quality has changed and improved a lot. There’s a huge difference between the product that existed 20 years ago compared to present.”
The Lingerie Shop, a website that sells exquisite lingerie too offers these period or sanitary panties. According to them, the goal of launching period underwear, was to make life easier for women during that time of the month. The brand’s menstrual underwear is lined with patent-pending a special technology that’s designed to be moisture-wicking, absorbent and leak-resistant. These panties are designed to be worn as a backup for your tampon, menstrual cup or pad. They can be worn on their own to protect against light spotting. The top layer fights bacteria and absorbs any liquid beneath into the thin layer, in the panty, so you always stay dry.
Mr Ankit of Zoom Reveira, another brand that manufactures period underwear explains, “Period panties are those that a woman needs to wear during those five crucial days of a month. The panty is a regular one but the part where the sanitary pad has to be placed, has a layering so that if there is a heavy flow or even otherwise, the clothes don’t get stained if the lady wears our product. We call these as sanitary panties. But yet, people are unaware of this product; they are only aware of sanitary pads. There are also straps to keep the sanitary pad in place; hence, the pad does not shift.”
“We started manufacturing period panties to resolve the problem of staining and did it for the ease of our customers. So they can be comfortable during their menstrual cycle and enjoy their period at ease. Women and girls start using such panties at the age group if 16 all the way to 50 years. Around 80 per cent are going for it,” says, Ms Radhika Goenka, Owner, The Lingerie Shop.
Says Mr Johnson Thomas, Proprietor, Shappon, “Shappon period panties are completely leak proof and treated with sanitized hygiene function. They help in protecting the user from any kind of stains and the sanitized hygiene functions makes it odour-free and also prevents growth of bacteria. These specialities make the product completely hygienic.”
Clovia’s innovative range has been uniquely designed with soft and breathable cotton fabric. Incorporating stain-resistant and leak-proof lining on the inside, it is all set to change the way women deal with their periods. With funny memes like text on the backside, these delightfully entertaining period underwear will make you chuckle, however heavy the flow is. Designed with quirky one liners and funny doodles, it completely sums up the crappy mood during those crampy days.
How does it work?
We do have all the information on what are sanitary panties and what sizes and colours they come in but do they actually work? What is their function? And how are they different form the regular panties?
Mr Monal tells us, “Period panties come with a waterproof layer, which is generally a form of plastic lamination near the crotch area that prevents leak on the outer garments. Also, our period panties come with a removable pad, which can be attached to the loops provided on the inside. The loops can also be used to hold other sanitary pads.”
Ms Deepa says, “They are made of special leak-proof, skin-friendly, washable fabric. They also prevent the pad from shifting and crumpling by holding the pad in place.”
“It has a special material, which protects the pad and panties and gives maximum comfort to the user,” explains Mr Dedhia.
Zoom Reveira mainly uses cotton; they get this fabric for the layering specially manufactured in the mill. It’s like the raincoat material used but it’s also very soft.
Clovia’s range is eco-friendly, machine-washable, made of soft cotton, stain-proof, control sweating, and doodle-happy. While Shappon’s period panty’s inner leak proof patch is capable of handling any kind of flow on any given point of time. “But it is still advisable to be used with sanitary pads or tampons,” says Mr Thomas.
Period panties may not enjoy a high level of awareness among women, yet they’ve been around since two decades. Says
Mr Rajesh Dedhia, Owner, Lady Care, “We created this in the year 1994, when just a cloth was used instead of pads.”
Mr Ankit says, “When we started manufacturing the panties, this particular product existed at the time as well. However, customers were not aware of this. We started the company in 1995 and s few years afterward, say in the year 2000, we started manufacturing sanitary panties. This was because of the demand; there was a requirement for this product and the demand came from certain places like Kerala because of the awareness and the high literacy rate of the state.”
“Red Rose has been the pioneer of period panties in the Indian market and has been selling them for more than 15 years now,” noted Mr Vora.
For Adira, Ms Deepa, said that they applied for a patent for period panty in 2009 and have been dealing in the product from a year after that.
Some are relatively new such as Mr Thomas, tells us, “We started manufacturing period panties around three years ago. We wanted to create a product, which is both hygienic and comfortable for today’s modern women.”
Mr Nasra, mentions, “We saw the demand in the market and some other companies were manufacturing as well. Very few companies started manufacturing this product and it’s a very useful one as well. Our profit margins are also very low in this product. This is as per the demands of our customers and they themselves guide us.”
Hygiene and durability
The hygiene factor in these panties is taken care of diligently and they also last for quite some time. Yet, care needs to be taken while washing them. The Lingerie Shop advices that in terms of hygiene and re-usability all you have to do is hand-wash them in cold or lukewarm water and use it from day one continuing to the rest of the other days too. Moreover, wash it immediately after use and hang dry. When used regularly the period panty can be used up to 25 times and is washable up to 25 washes.
Mr Vora explains, “Ideally, the removable pad, which is provided is good for 6-8 washes while the panty can be used for more than a 100 washes without any issues.” While Shappon’s products made of 100 per cent cotton, treated with sanitized hygiene function and pose no hygiene problems to its users and last long as well.
Mr Dedhia mentions, “We have used 100 per cent cotton fabric suiting to Indian climatic conditions. This is the best fabric Indians need and is also best in comfort, use and is easy to trust.
According to Ms Deepa, “Period panties are 100 per cent skin-friendly and hygienic. Wearing them is better for the following reasons—it prevents stains and hence washing outerwear. And, it also prevents staining of soft furnishings like office chairs, sofas, etc. that are not easy to clean. A blood stain can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
She also adds that these panties last for over a year. Every girl needs about 3-4 period panties. But for hygiene reasons, she recommends that they are changes every six months.
Mr Nasra says that hygiene issues largely depend on the user. “It should be washed everyday but otherwise there are no hygiene problems. There is place for the pad as well and there have been no complaints at all; also, very thin fabric used. As for washes, again, it depends on the usage, but usually it lasts for more than 100 to 120 days with proper care,” he states.
“There is no problem at all. Just like women wear pads in normal panties, these sanitary panties ensure that there are no stains and offer security at this level pre-empting any embarrassment for women. It’s especially great for working women. Till now, there have been no complaints,” states Mr Ankit. Zoom Reveira uses a special cloth in these panties; thus, you can use them for 4-5 days. After that, especially during summers, there may be itching as the material used is like the one used in raincoat.
Mr Ankit advices to use this product only during those special days and it’s better if you keep changing, i.e., discard them every two months; that’s the maximum time. Only then, hygiene will be retained. Also, these panties have be handwashed, because the material used can tear up in machine wash.
Though sanitary underwear has been around for almost two decades, there’s not much technological innovation done in this sphere. Mr Thomas mentions that period panties till now were just a panty with a plastic sheet stitched on the inner side, which is very unhygienic and irritating on the crotch part. Whereas now, with the technology available, we are capable of making cotton completely leak-proof.
Ms Deepa tells us that the core design has not changed much since they applied for the patent in 2009. “We have a Patent in USA now for the product and it’s expected shortly in India,” she adds.
Mr Nasra says, “About 20 years ago, there was hardly any shape, the fabric was thick, people thought thick material will absorb better. But now this product is made in regular cotton hosiery material, Sinker. There was inner elastic earlier, now outer elastic is used for the product.” Also, though the brand uses cotton hosiery at present, they are now exploring the new waterproof fabric, which much better and of superior quality and is also available.
But, according to Mr Ankit, there has been no technological advancement; they’ve only improved the quality of the material for these panties. “I will do some R&D only when there’s a demand for the product. Nobody gives value to this product right now,” he states further.
Mr Dedhia says that their product is made of 100 per cent cotton. “It is suitable to the Indian climatic conditions, is also best for comfort and use and is easy to trust as well.”
Shappon’s period panty’s inner leak-proof patch is capable of handling any kind of flow on any given point of time. But it still advisable to be used with sanitary pads or tampons, according to Mr Thomas.
Sanitary panties may seem a great product; however, it has its fair share of hurdles as well when it comes to promoting or advertising it. “Advertising of these kind of products has never been easy. We initially had faced hurdles with a few retailers but now India being the fastest growing country of the world the mindset of consumers and retailers is also changing slowly,” Mr Thomas states.
Mr Ankit agrees and says, “Nobody wants to have an open conversation about this. People connect it to religion and feel there should be no promotion about this. When I do branding in a certain area about this product, I get a response that they do sell, but they do not want to promote it. They are more concerned about what the society would think about this. People are scared to talk about this. It takes a lot of time and effort to make this product.”
However, Ms Deepa feels that the topic of periods is still a taboo subject in the country though it’s changing fast nowadays. So, she says that though they had problems initially, they don’t have any now. While Mr Dedhia thinks that this does not apply today and was relevant to the market of a decade ago. He says that advertising for this product is easy now than ten years ago.
Colours, sizes, styles
Period panties may not be as fancy as your regular ones, yet they too have certain variants. The Lingerie Shop has two variants, black and skin SKU Lingerie Shop period panties. They carry all sizes, from XS, S, M, L and XL. In total they do five sizes and they sell them in a pack of two. Black and skin are the colours available at Lingerieshop.com, Amazon.in and Nykaa as well.
Talking about the new product range,
Ms Soumya Kant, VP, Clovia says, “We have all faced that moment of discomfort when one is out, or in a meeting, or exercising, and periods start. With our new range, the stress and anxiety of staining one’s innerwear will be a thing of the past.” She further adds, “We strongly believe that there shouldn’t have to be a trade-off between maximum protection and a beautiful product. Our period panties address that…they provide ultimate support, durability, breathability and comfort during periods and make you smile at the same time. It sure does help to laugh, especially when you’re feeling bummed.”
Clovia combines style with function—it flaunts curve-hugging contours, comes in a hipster style and sits perfectly on the hips without riding up. The inner lining of the panty is stain resistant which provides leak-proof protection from the stains caused by pads slipping out of place. They are available in a variety of rich, dark and vibrant colours, and act as a confidence booster for girls, as many of them prefer wearing deep colours during those days.
Shappon has three styles and eight sizes, which has more than four colours. The sizes available start from XXS that caters to school going girls; the size goes up to 3XL. Shappon also has special names for this product—REDZ, DAYZ and SNUGZ. These three styles are designed while keeping comfort and style in mind. All the styles have an additional variant of pad support as well.
Adira has two main versions, the boxer and the hipsters and have them in plains, prints and lace versions. The brand also introduces a new collection every 5-6 months. Whereas, Red Rose offers eight colours in sizes S-2XL. Also, it offers two main products…one for heavy flow/high active days and another for medium flow/medium active days.
Mr Nasra states, “Now, we will be going for new colours but otherwise there are basic dark colours such as navy blue, brown black. The sizes range from S to XXXL At the centre of the panty there is a waterproof material used now, wherein earlier, there was the basic plastic used. Now we have this material from China, which is also available here and the style is basic with outer elastic.”
Lady Care offers only one product, in which there are six sizes available—M-4XL. These are available in four colours our product is popular as 5 Days.
Zoom Reveira has sizes, S to XXL and it comes in only three colours— black, brown and navy blue. The style is basic and there are no other variants offered.
What women expect
According to Ms Goenka, “Customers expect that there are no stains on their underwear. And they are free to wear it with or without a sanitary napkin; do keep in mind it holds up to two tampons worth of blood panties. Moreover, customers can be rest assured that the style is perfect, doesn’t feel like diapers, the bikini holds up to two tampons worth, leakage resistant and can back up in your heavy days.”
Mr Nasra explains, “People look for good quality, a proper fit, and they don’t ask many questions regarding this product. Also, if the sellers behind the counters are male, they get embarrassed. If there’s a lady, they are more open. While Mr Ankit states that here is no demand as there is no awareness.
“Consumers expect period panties to be comfortable, hygienic and leak-proof. Shappon period panties being 100 per cent cotton fulfil all the criteria,” says Mr Thomas. Lady Care’s customers expect 100 per cent comfort like normal panties; they experience this in the brand’s ‘5 Days’ panty according to Mr Dedhia.
Though low awareness, yet these days, the younger generation seems to be more aware and informed about this unique product. The age group for period panties too is quite flexible as it all depends on the awareness of an individual. Mr Vora states, “The age group is 16-45. It’s a very niche product although now because of increasing health and product awareness, more women are opting for it.”
Ms Deepa too agrees and mentions that they have customers of all age groups…right from 12-13 year old girls who have just reached puberty to women who are menopausal. Yet, she feels that right now the market is in a very nascent state.
“Earlier, it used to be the bigger sizes, like XL, XXL. Nowadays, the sizes that sell are S, M. But all age groups go for this product. The percentage is still less, around maybe only 50 per cent approximately, but I think that will increase,” Mr Nasra tells us.
“Shappon period panties start from XXS size, which can be used by girls of age starting from 10 years. The percentage of women going for it is still very less compared to India’s population, but this because of less awareness of the product for the retailers and consumers,” says Mr Thomas.
Mr Ankit explains, “Teenage girls should actually use these panties. It’s helpful for girls who have just started their periods. Also, the S, M, XL sizes are what sells the most. The demand is less than 10 per cent for this product as most people think that it’s just a matter of five days so why spend on these panties. But, the younger generation asks for these generally.
To conclude we can say that awareness is the key factor for this segment. As Mr Ankit states, that literacy rate matters when it comes to the sale of this product. “Even today, the demand for sanitary panties is more where the literacy rate is high and so sales are high as well. The sales are high in South India even compared to Delhi as people in other parts are unaware of this product.”
We spoke to some retailers to get their perspective about this must-have piece of clothing. Here’s their take on it.
Jigna Shah of Innerlines – Our period panties are imported from abroad and are not local. These panties are not disposable and are like normal panties. You can wear them numerous times but customers are not aware of these products so they do not sell a lot. People don’t come and ask for these panties. If you mention it they will buy it. Out of 100 customers maybe one customer will ask for it. We have only one brand outlet where we retail our products in Thane. The price range starts and ends from INR 250/275 to INR 295. The size we keep are from L to XXL.
Sachin Doshi of Kathiawar Stores – We sell these period panties under the brand name Red Rose and the price is INR 175. The sizes available are from S to XXL. Sanitary Panties is not ordinary panties…they have MSC that offers maximum soaking capacity; thus, it’s good not only during normal days but even in days of excessive flow, offering extra protection. The super- absorbent molecules go into the pad instantly and keep the top sheet dry, so you feel fresh as ever. Not many people know about these panties. Our panties are usually sold in bulk except for the period panties. These panties are re-usable for maybe 2-3 washes. They have a plastic inner lining but many customers do not like purchasing them as they feel they’re uncomfortable and worry about hygiene issues and prefer pads as they have a softer internal padding. The sales are very stagnant. All ages purchase these panties. The sales of these panties are probably 5 to 10 per cent in one month. Totally, they have three stores.
Mr. Nilesh Chedda of Sentiments
They keep Incare period panties and the sizes we keep are M, L, XL, XXL, while the price is INR 125. We have only one store in Thane.
The market sales for these products are normal. Most brands do not sell or manufacture such panties. Mostly teenagers come to our store to purchase such panties.
Mr. Amitlal Shah of Navrang Stores –
We have two brands of period panties, Red Rose and Bodycare The price point for Red Rose is INR 160-170 in sizes M, L , XL, and 3XL. Red Rose Period Panties offer maximum soaking capacity, not just during normal days, but also during days of excessive flow.
They offer total leak-proof protection for those sensitive days of the month. Sanitary Panties from Bodycare are washable, re-usable and comfortable too. It has got improved leakage protection and comes with water and stain-resistant material. This panty comes with a secret protective shield and has a loop attached, which helps to keep the pad in place.
Bodycare sizes are from M to XXL at the price range is INR 140- 150 each. These panties are like normal panties and can be rewashed and worn.
The market growth in this segment is very stable. Very few customers ask for such products, about around 20 per cent. Women between 30 to 50 years of age choose this product. They have only one store in Hyderabad.
Mr Pankaj Jain of Quality General Store – Brands we keep for period panties are Juliet and Bodycare. Both brands have seen an equal growth in sales in the past few years. The creators of menstrual underwear are becoming increasingly ingenious with their fabric and there are a wide variety of styles and price ranges to choose from. We keep these products in our display and people ask for them and honestly, love both the brands’ products. Not only is it comfortable but it also helps one avoid the leakage problem. Juliet has improved its quality and are making these panties from high-quality fabrics but they are quite expensive compared to Bodycare. Majorly, teenagers demand these panties, but due to increase in awareness older women, between 25-40 years of age, are also asking for this product.
Mr Dipankar Datta, Proprietor, Beyond Desire – We stock Red Rose and Pigeon but we keep very limited stock. Hardly anybody asks for it. Only those who are particular or have knowledge about it ask for it. There’s been no improvement in this segment. Nowadays girls use basic panties but go for good quality of sanitary pads. There are different companies that approach us for this product. But till today, no company has come forward to tell us to keep this item. I had to search for this product. No good brand has ever come across and made this product. Also, I don’t see any different trends in this segment. Only few customers ask for this who are also are repeat customers and not new ones. The age group that goes for period panties depends on something, i.e., if the mother has been using them she advices her daughter to use it. Hence, the age group is 12-16 years and not above. A couple of 20-25 year-olds will also ask but it’s very rare. So, 10 pieces may run for two years and also only S and M sizes run but L and XL hardly runs. As for market share, I don’t think there will be any, maybe just 1 or 2 per cent. Also, I don’t think there will be growth in this segment.
Girls nowadays are not so comfortable because sanitary napkins have improved a lot and are scientifically good. Unless a branded company comes with innovative ideas, using marketing strategies, etc.; then it could be a push for this segment.
Ms Pinky Patadia, Owner La Pink, Gandhinagar – They keep Red Rose and Chinese brands. Mostly school and college girls prefer this product and mothers buy it for their daughters. Young girls need to play so they go for this. Red Rose comes with a washable pad itself. The new trend is that imported products run.
The fabric in them itself is such that there is no leakage; it’s leak-proof and hence no stains. So, Chinese panties sell more and are priced at INR 210. Now, there’s awareness and there will be growth in this segment but can’t tell how much.
Mrs Smita Vishal Shah, Instore, Chennai – We keep Red Rose, Incare, and Lavos in this segment and have been selling them regularly. There aren’t any new trends in this segment and usually middle-aged women ask for period panties. Though we’ve been selling them I can’t predict the growth of this product.