reports2022/03/19

Starting A Comfort Revolution With My Sister

by Katie McCourt

For the last six years, my sister and I have lived on opposite sides of the world, myself in Vancouver and Amanda in London. We’ve always dreamt of working on something together, but with the distance, time difference and careers in different directions, this seemed increasingly unlikely – until the pandemic.

But, our story doesn't start there. In late 2019, Amanda had spent a day browsing thrift stores with a friend in South London. Likely due to she was reading Fashionpolis by Dana Thomas, she couldn’t help but notice the number of unworn, brand new clothes (specifically t-shirts) that lined the shelves. 

That night, she dove further into fashion’s waste problem and what she learnt completely changed our trajectory of the months ahead. The fashion industry produces billions of t-shirts each and every year, but due to overproduction some studies suggest that as much as 30% of clothes sold are never even worn. Clothes or fabrics that aren’t sold, often referred to as ‘deadstock’, more often than not end up in landfill or incineration.

Disposing of garments that could be reused makes little to no sense. If they can’t be used as intended - why not turn them into something else? Multiple upcycling YouTube tutorials later, Amanda came up with an idea. That’s when she called me and said, “Let’s start a brand called Pantee - pants made from deadstock tee’s!”. 

Immediately hooked by the mission and how it tied so perfectly with the brand name, we got to work. At this point, I should mention that we had absolutely no experience in the fashion industry or in bringing a product to life. Undeterred by that minor detail, we spent the next year researching, networking and bringing our first samples to life.

Our backgrounds are both in marketing, so naturally we put our focus into growing an engaged community, keeping our audience up-to-date with our progress, asking for their thoughts and feedback as we went. Through all the ups and downs, we shared our unfiltered journey and organically grew an engaged audience that were ready and waiting to get their hands on the first ever Pantee collection. Some of those have now ordered their fourth or fifth set of pantees - it’s incredible really.

In November 2020, we launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter as the world’s first underwear brand made from deadstock t-shirts. We made the decision to launch on Kickstarter for two reasons, first to ensure there was demand for our products and avoid ending up with our own deadstock and second to collect as much data as we could on popularity of style, size, color to help us buy more accurately in the future. Within the first 24 hours of launching we were 50% funded and we ended up selling over 400 sets of pantees. 

We launched our website in early 2021 and since then have expanded into using a range of deadstock fabrics, planted over 600 trees with One Tree Planted, and become proud members of the 1% For The Planet Community.

After launching, we couldn’t wait to hear what our first customers thought of their Pantees. When the feedback began flooding in, we quickly noticed a pattern – everyone was calling out how comfy their Pantees were. Of course we were thrilled from a product standpoint, but it also really got us thinking about the idea of comfort and what it means to us.

In today’s world, there’s still too much focus on how women look; it’s time to prioritise how women feel. That’s why we make underwear that puts comfort first - it’s about how you feel, not what others see. And, when you feel comfortable, powerful things can happen. We’re often told the rhetoric that we should be working harder, doing better and constantly pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones with the promise that the pain will eventually transform into success. Perhaps the true key to change is not through anxiety and fear but through acceptance and self-love?

This feeling encapsulates everything we strive for at Pantee. We’re on a mission to ignite a comfort revolution by empowering people to feel truly comfortable with themselves, whether they’re in their comfort zone or out of it, in the hope that this will make a comfortable world for us all.

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