BENGALURU: Tired of hyper-sexualised advertisements of men and women by underwear brands, city-based start up Tailor and Circus is on a mission to make underwear body positive and inclusive. The first aspect that would catch one's eye while browsing though their recently-launched website are models who look like regular people - no Photoshop, ultra-flat bellies, thigh gaps or six-pack abs.
"We were always interested in the fashion business and zeroed in on underwear because it is a basic necessity. During our market research, we realized that people are uncomfortable talking about underwear, even while buying them. Women and men think it is a taboo and are shy. Why so? This question was on our minds when we began this venture two years ago," says Gaurav Durasamy, one of the co-founders, along with Abhishek Elango and Vasanth Sampathkumar
In order to have people relate to the product, they decided to carry a message of acceptance. "When we were looking to collaborate with models, agencies assumed we wanted fair-skinned foreigners. We wrote to all the female models we wanted to work with and earned their trust. We wanted to give them a safe space, as this could be sensitive," shares Abhishek, adding that the women had a final say in the selection of pictures, based on what they were comfortable with.
The founders say they initially got flak from people for not using the stereotypical models we are used to seeing. On the other hand, their Instagram account was flooded with messages from mostly women customers who appreciated them for portraying regular looking models and advertising plus sizes.
"Underwear is the first and most important piece of clothing that touches our body. However, if you want premium underwear, you would have to pay through your nose and end up with uncomfortable lingerie, especially for women. People end up choosing between this and mass market brands that may be comfortable, but are of sub-standard quality," Gaurav says.
The quality that they pride themselves on,refers to sustainable, cultivated micro-modal fibre from natural Beechwood pulp, sourced from Austria's forests. "There is a perception that cotton is good for the environment, but it is actually a major pollutant. Even though we import the fibre, the final product is not costly. We cushion the cost we incur, as we have our own manufacturing unit," Abhishek explains.
He claims that big brands have several middle players, causing a seven-fold markup that the customer pays for. This he says, is unlike their own, which has a lesser markup.
Ask them how the response has been, and Gaurav says, "It has been overwhelming. So many women have reached out to us. The millennials especially like our gender neutral prints, devoid of any societal bias in colour and design."