Every year $8 billion dollars worth of sheer tights/pantyhose end up in the landfill after only one or two wears. Ripping sheers is as easy as accidentally catching them on a fingernail, or simply pulling too hard while putting them on. Our goal is to replace these disposable products with Sheerly Genius, which has been tested to last up to 50 wears.
We have been working on this for about 12 months so far and it has been quite an adventure. When I started out I didn’t think we’d be developing our own fiber and machines, but that’s what it ultimately took.
The first fibers I looked at were aramids, like kevlar, which of course were attractive for their strength. To be considered sheer (as opposed to opaque), a pair of tights needs fibers that are 30 denier or less. Denier measures the thickness or fineness of a fiber. I quickly learned that the lowest denier kevlar came in was 1000 denier! So it was a non-starter.
It turned out that none of the fibers on the market today were both fine and strong enough to make an indestructible sheer product. Ultimately we had to develop our own fiber: a finer, colored version of the non-dyeable polyethylene fibers used in higher end bulletproof vests and climbing equipment. To use these fibers we had to retrofit circular knitting machines with new feeding systems and blades, because the fibers are so strong they break typical knitting machines!
My background is in software and manufacturing - building and selling two companies prior to Sheerly Genius. But this is my first journey into textiles. In my last startup I worked directly with many hardware companies, but became increasingly skeptical of the trend in IoT towards “connected” anything. One thing I love about this project is that we’ve been able to innovate in wearables without being connected.
Fun Fact: Half of our backers on Kickstarter so far have been men!
I’m looking forward to talking manufacturing, textiles, and crowdfunding. Can’t wait to hear your ideas and experiences in these areas. Also happy to answer any questions about our journey in developing the product so far!