On a mission to create comfortable underwear for everyone, Chennai-based brand Tailor and Circus’ found a complementary purpose in body positivity. Underwear for all hit a roadblock when they realised that “The representation in underwear ads was not universal,” Abhishek Elango, Creative Director of Tailor and Circus tells me. To set the tone, they started posting carefully curated, provocative and unapologetic content on their Facebook page before they even launched. Like Taiwanese artist Yung Cheng Lin’s ‘Banana Series’, a photo story that turns the spotlight on female bodies and modification through unsettling imagery. Or Brazilian artist Marcela Sabiá’s inspiring art that consistently breaks taboos and smashes stereotypes about ‘perfect’ bodies. Later, as Tailor and Circus’ product line began to take shape, this positivity extended to their own catalogue and product shots. No photoshop at all, Tailor and Circus is committed to building a brand that resonates with men and women, that didn’t glorify taut stomachs, toned thighs and blemish-free skin.
However, like I said, Tailor and Circus’ strong voice can be traced back to its original purpose–making comfortable underwear for men. Abhishek tells me, “We saw a gap in terms of ‘softness’ so far as men’s underwear goes. We also found a clear distinction between men’s and women’s underwear, where the former was meant to be more functional and less about comfort. So, at first, we wanted to create a brand that was all about comfortable, hygienic and soft men’s underwear.” However, market research and insightful conversations turned their attention to a big problem with women’s underwear as well. Since it’s a highly sexualised industry, the three male owners found that women often find it hard to articulate how their ‘lingerie’ can be made more comfortable and accommodating. So, what started out as “wanting to identify what worked with women’s underwear to adapt it to a brand for men” led to the realisation that most people were uncomfortable with their underwear.
Enter Tailor and Circus, for body-positive, gender-neutral underwear that breathes and looks good. Abhishek describes their primary offering as innerwear anti-microbial, sustainable and fully inclusive.
Sustainability is another important aspect of Tailor and Circus’ identity. A part of the burgeoning slow fashion movement in India, their products are made from a super sustainable fibre, Micro-modal, that Abhishek tells is extracted from the beech wood tree. Partnered with Austrian micro-modal manufacturer Lenzing, everything is manufactured on-site in a closed-loop fashion. Micro-modal is one of the best fabrics to craft underwear–compared to cotton, MicroModal boasts a 50% higher absorbency rate, the structural integrity of the fabric is built to last longer so it won’t lose shape, and it’s extremely soft. Tailor and Circus go out of its way to educate the Indian underwear buyer, sometimes with facts that aren’t easy to digest, about sustainability as well as hygiene. Their products are anti-microbial, Abhishek says that they work with another company called Fresh that produces an “organic, non-metallic anti-bacterial wash” to prevent any kind of infection.
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